Measured Innovation and the Consumerization of Eye Teeth

One of the ways I try to break out of a creative slump is with a late-night surf around the technology section of a popular crowdfunding site, where inventors seek spare change to launch their one-in-a-million idea that will make them a million. Some are breathtakingly simple, others are downright strange, and all are waiting for the dollars to vote.


It was there that I ran across a proposal for an Internet-enabled, wireless toothbrush that uses a sensor attached to an ordinary toothbrush. When a kid starts to brush their teeth, an accelerometer measures force patterns, then uses the wireless circuit in the sensor to send a signal to mom or dad’s phone, which then starts buzzing and making monkey noises to notify them of Junior’s hygiene habits. The inventors also propose adding sensors to track interactions with other everyday objects, from walking the dog to putting the lid down. Seriously.


Contrast that inspirational “a-ha!” moment with the observations in Deloitte’s annual Technology Trends report. It notes that “innovation is shifting from ‘eureka’ to an institutional discipline…” as part of a movement to measured innovation.  The report challenges CIOs to lead the charge for innovation while bearing in mind the multiple meanings of measured innovation. These include disciplined growth, measured outcomes and refined approaches based on results.  


Innovation can tread a fine line in organizations, where the best ideas may lose support because of an inability to prove value. Sometimes it’s just a bad idea, but other times it is because an organization doesn’t have the capability to track and measure it in the first place. One of the advantages of using a single solution to monitor the evolution from wild brainstorm to feasible product is that it can be continuously refined as its value is being measured. This balances the need for delivering a competitive game-changer, rooted in an unconventional or out-there idea, with the practical need to justify its existence using conventional metrics.


One place where it’s legal to vote early and often is with investment and revenue dollars, so it isn’t much of a stretch between seeding a startup that sees a big future in monkey-cheeping, phone-connected toothbrushes and an organization challenged to select and invest in The Next Big Thing. Having a seamless, controlled way to capture new ideas – however crazy they might be – and a systematic approach for selecting, investing and reporting back to the business regarding their progress are key considerations for organizations of any size. Managing the complete process in a single solution, from idea through delivery, makes it more likely that the best ideas can realize their full potential.


Listen to the recent Webcast “Encouraging Better Project Management Behaviors Through Metrics” with guests Atul Kunkulol and Donald Dickson of J.D. Irving Limited. Learn how J.D. Irving, Limited’s IT Division has implemented a wide range of project measures looking at how well active projects are aligned for success. These measures make it easier for portfolio managers, sponsors, project managers and team members to manage their own behavior and quickly identify opportunities on projects.  

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Lisa Sass

Lisa Sass is a Senior Principal Product Marketing Manager for CA Technologies, focused on Project and Portfolio Management (PPM) solutions. She has spent much of her IT career in marketing, project management and professional services after getting hooked on the power of emerging technologies as a senior corporate training executive. Before joining CA Technologies, Lisa led IT transformation and integration projects for global companies in financial data services, media, telecommunications and managed infrastructure, including developing Cloud migration strategies before it was cool.

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