Tuesday, September 10, 2024
9:45 AM - 10:15 AM
Location Name
More to the Story than Performance Measures

Utilities are accelerating the development and adoption of new ideas across the water sector through both formal and informal innovation programs. While these programs are positively impacting their utilities, they often struggle to clearly measure and convey the value of innovation. In a global survey, only 35% of utility staff believed they are effectively measuring the impact of their innovation efforts (WRF Project 4642). Innovation leaders often rely on performance measures to prove program impact. Most programs track activity metrics (e.g., number of ideas, number of participants) and productivity metrics (e.g., time in phase). A few programs attempt to measure impact, however assessing incremental improvements over business as usual, qualitative impacts (e.g., morale, perception, customer experience), or near-term benefit of long-term projects can seem highly subjective. The Building an Innovation Narrative project, funded and directed by over 35 water and wastewater utilities across the world, found integrating powerful storytelling tactics with performance measures builds credibility and successfully communicates the impact of innovation. This ultimately creates an innovation program that is supported by staff and aligned with leadership expectations contributing to a more agile culture. Storytelling creates an emotional and personal experience for the listeners. Stories help staff see themselves being innovative which contributes to changing and building the culture at an organization. These stories communicate the value of the innovation program which then can be supported by performance measures. This relieves the pressure to find the perfect measure and allows flexibility in reporting. Based on guidance developed through this project, this presentation will equip executive champions and innovation leaders to effectively align communications and performance measures with their strategic priorities for greater impact and influence at their organizations.