It happens here: Consumer-centric Innovation in Charlotte and beyond

Beware of innovating against old metrics by Nheeda Enriquez
July 24, 2009, 11:43 pm
Filed under: empathy, innovation trends | Tags: , , , , ,

stitchesDuring a family brunch back home in NJ, my sister the ER doc bemoaned how police investigators would get in her way when she treated violent lacerations.  They’d be in her face, demanding to know “HOW MANY STITCHES?!  HOW MANY STITCHES?!” so they could include the number in their reports.

Lack of compassion for a busy hospital aside, we agreed that the number of stitches was a terrible way to measure a stab wound’s severity.  My sister said that the number required to seal a cut had more to do with its location than its length.  (Faces require more.)  And in some cases, you might use adhesive to close it instead.

The story makes me think of how an outdated or inappropriate metric is sometimes used to evaluate whether or not an innovation is worth doing.  Many companies look to traditional ROI or NPV calculations to determine financial return, as they should.  But for really new initiatives that may not have been tried before, don’t forget to brainstorm the non-obvious key performance indicators.

It’s actually be a fun exercise to ask: “If this wacky new bike merchandising solution is successful, how might we know?”  The first answer is always, “we sell more bikes.”  But it might also be “increased time spent in store by customers,” “number of cell phone pictures taken of said bike rack showing up google maps,” or even “number of complaints by annoyed employees having to deal with telling the story of new bike display.”

2 Comments so far
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I think this is a good debate that is going on around the social media sphere. ROI is an important metric, but is currently hard to measure with SM. Someone will eventually have to figure out how to apply ROI there or will have to come up with a new, more appropriate one.

I like the bike store metaphor. Thanks!

Comment by Leo Wurschmidt

Measuring innnovation is hard and most people don’t do it well ( There are lots of examples of how measuring the wrong thing leads to poor behavior. Here’s one from a hospital:

Comment by Jonathan

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