A Comprehensive Guide to Innovation Accounting

In the fast-paced world of business, innovation is the engine that drives growth and success. But how do organizations ensure they're not just spinning their wheels, but actually making meaningful progress? That's where Innovation Accounting comes in – it's the compass that guides companies through the complex terrain of innovation, helping them stay on course and achieve their goals.

Understanding Innovation Accounting

Innovation Accounting serves as the GPS guiding organizations through the ever-shifting landscape of new business ideas and innovation projects. Innovation Accounting isn't just about crunching numbers; it's about gaining insight into the performance and impact of innovation initiatives. It provides a structured framework for tracking progress, making informed decisions, steering the impact of innovation, and keeping senior management aligned with the company's innovation endeavors.

The Importance of Innovation Accounting

In today's competitive landscape, innovation isn't just a nice-to-have – it's a necessity. But traditional metrics like revenue and ROI only tell part of the story. That's why organizations are increasingly turning to Innovation Accounting to gain a more holistic view of their innovation efforts. While revenue remains a key measure of innovation success, Deloitte's 2023 Survey of Innovation Excellence highlights the growing recognition of the need for additional non-financial metrics. Incorporating measures such as innovation pipeline and brand value provides a more holistic view, essential for sustaining long-term competitiveness.


Key Principles of Innovation Accounting

There are several key principles that underpin effective Innovation Accounting:

1. Funnel View

Drawing inspiration from venture capital, Innovation Accounting advocates for a funnel view, where projects are assessed at different stages of maturity, from ideation to implementation. By taking a funnel view approach, organizations can better assess the progress of each project and allocate resources accordingly.

2. Stage-Gate Process 

Innovation is inherently risky, which is why it's important to have a stage-gate process in place. This allows organizations to evaluate the viability of each project at various stages and make data-driven decisions about whether to continue investing, stop or pivot to something else.

3. Assessing Uncertainty

Innovation is all about dealing with uncertainty, but that doesn't mean it's a shot in the dark. By systematically assessing the level of uncertainty associated with each project, organizations can take calculated risks and increase their chances of success. Innovation Accounting emphasizes assessing uncertainty levels across four dimensions – desirability, viability, feasibility, and strategic fit – to de-risk ideas gradually.

4. Assessing Potential

Innovation isn't just about generating revenue – it's also about creating value for customers and stakeholders. That's why it's important to look beyond financial metrics and consider factors like brand impact, sustainability, and social responsibility when measuring the potential of innovation initiatives.


How to Get Started with Innovation Accounting

Implementing Innovation Accounting isn't always easy, but it's worth the effort. Here are some tips for getting started:

1. Define Your Goals

Before you can start measuring your innovation efforts, you need to know what you're trying to achieve. Align innovation goals with organizational objectives, whether it's creating new business, transforming the workforce, or enhancing sustainability.

2. Start Small, Iterate, and Validate 

Rome wasn't built in a day, and neither is a robust Innovation Accounting system. Begin with a few key metrics, iterating over time based on insights. Keep the process lean and actionable.

3. Consistency Across Portfolio 

To effectively manage your innovation portfolio, it's important to have consistency in how you measure progress and success. This ensures that all projects are evaluated using the same criteria and enables better decision-making about resource allocation.

4. Engage Key Stakeholders

Innovation isn't just the responsibility of the innovation department – it's a company-wide effort that requires buy-in from across the organization. Make it your responsibility to educate senior management and key decision-makers on early-stage validation and decision-making to ensure buy-in and alignment.

5. Continuous Improvement

Innovation is a journey, not a destination. Continuously monitor and evaluate your innovation accounting practices, and be willing to adapt and evolve as needed to meet the organization's evolving needs and stay ahead of the curve.


Innovation Accounting is the secret sauce that separates successful innovation departments from the rest. It’s about more than just crunching numbers; it's about driving strategic decisions and fostering a culture of continuous innovation. By adopting a structured approach to measuring and managing innovation, companies can unlock new opportunities, drive growth, and stay ahead of the competition. So don't just innovate for the sake of it – innovate with purpose, and let Innovation Accounting be your guide to chart a path toward sustained growth and success.


To learn more about how rready can help you to start tracking progress when it comes to your innovation efforts and implement the right structures, book a demo or contact us today. 

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