Measuring innovation capabilities and behaviours in the Great Britain rail industry


The future financial and environmental sustainability of rail, as well as customer experience, will depend on innovations in the industry. Significant market trends, e.g. carbon reduction and increased demand, also require innovative solutions. In order to be able to demonstrate improvement in capability around innovation, it is crucial to have a shared, rigorous measure of innovation capability.

A central GB railway agency engaged Strategy& to help ensure the GB rail industry is prepared to realise its strategic and technical vision by:

  • Developing a company self-assessment tool to determine existing and required innovation capabilities, current gaps, and opportunities to improve
  • Developing an assessment methodology and tool to determine the level of innovation capability across the industry as a whole

How we helped

Company assessment

The initial phase of Strategy&’s effort was to develop and pilot a cloud-based self-assessment tool to measure the innovation capability level of individual companies:

  • Detailed charts were developed to define innovation capability across six key themes: competitive environment, strategic alignment, internal innovation activities, external innovation activities, organisation and culture
  • Hypotheses and corresponding questions and answers were developed within each of the six themes, based on industry interviews and Strategy&’s experience
  • An interactive results analysis model was developed to enable organisations to understand where their innovation capability currently stands and where they want it to be in the future
  • High-level, theme-based action plans were automatically generated based on an organisation’s lowest performing areas; these were further supported by a detailed guidance document
  • The self-assessment was piloted with 3 rail companies and workshops were run with each company to present results and provide guidance for developing a detailed action plan

Industry assessment

The second phase of the project was to develop an assessment to measure the overall innovation capability of the industry:

  • A separate industry dynamics assessment survey was developed, targeted at industry bodies, comprising questions covering each of the six key innovation themes
  • A series of metrics (key performance indicators) were devised, relating to each innovation theme, in order to measure progress over time
  • These assessments were presented, together with compiled results from all of the company self-assessments, in an overall industry innovation capability “dashboard”

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Strategy&’s efforts produced an assessment tool that will empower the GB rail industry and individual firms to improve innovation support and capabilities, and inform future strategic decision making, by implementing a shared and rigorous innovation assessment approach. The assessment tool is currently being rolled out to companies across the industry.

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