I attended a training to become an IMP3rove Guide three weeks ago. IMP3rove is a program financed by the EC attempting to teach SMEs how to better approach innovation management. At the core is an online survey that is based on the A. T. Kearney’s house of innovation and looks at 5 innovation dimensions (innovation strategy, organization&culture, life cycle, enabling factors and results). The real advantage of this survey is the fact that you can rank yourself against the other companies who did the survey already (3000 so far) and get a feeling for where you stand in relation to the average and the top 10%. Reports are generated automatically after you have answered the 43 questions and can be generated selecting different criteria such as industry, age of companies, country origin and size.
I think this is a very vaulable exercise not only for SMEs but also for larger corporations and should be done just before you start addressing innovation management issues so that you can check if the measures you undertake show results 12 months later when the system invites you to do another survey.
The benchmark is free of charge and also totally anonymous. Only you will see the reports and data, noone else. It is recommended though you do the survey with an IMP3rove Guide like myself. That way it is faster and most importantly you will have the support after the reports have been generated in analyzing the results. A workshop is conducted then where the consultant shows a SWOT analysis and works out recommendations on what could be done to improve things.
There were a few critiques so far that I heard about this program and that I would like to address now:
- too theoretical for SMEs: I think this is not the case. the infos asked in the survey is available for any company who is in business a few years and spending about 2hours on this is absolutely worth the time based on the value you obtain. at the least what one gets is a nice status report and a possibility to reflect things in innovation management in a very structured way. I think though that medium sized companies up to a few thousand employees should also do this benchmark and would gain a lot too, so not only SMEs.
- EU standardization approach: this is really not the case here. do not fear that bureaucracy kicks in only because this is coming from them. not at all. one can compare with others of course only if all provide the same info but even if the organizer would maybe like it to become a common standard, the fact that financial institutions so far have not really jumped at it make it clear that this is not happening.
- consultants entry to win clients: of course this is possible but quite frankly I have a hard time believing that any consultancy could enter an engagement purely with this. it can be used in broader projects as a start Ok but I doubt it is helpful to win clients.