EWI Logo on Product Example

Wannabe Innovator?

September 15, 2010


It hit me in the middle of a strategy meeting.

“It” was an idea for what I thought was a unique use and redesign of a technology EWI had recently patented. I have been spending time over the past year, and a lot of time the past month, putting together and evaluating business plans related to the patent so I’m familiar with the process, and can reasonably explain the technology in somewhat lay-person’s English.

Let me back up a half step… I’m the CFO at EWI. I started out in public accounting and have spent the majority of my professional career (close to 20 years) working with and for software and IT technology companies. Nowhere in my background was I qualified to do welding… In fact I couldn’t (and still can’t) even solder a copper pipe.

OK, back to the meeting and the “revelation”. As I continued to nod along with the discussion in the room, I was busy sketching out my idea and writing a description in a cross between business-plan jargon, and a lame attempt at techy-speak. I also shot an email to the engineering team leader asking if he was going to be around later. When the meeting was over, I packed up to head off to a school function. Stuck in traffic, I was checking my email and Matt had responded he was around to talk. I called him and half embarrassed, said “I think I have an idea”. Now, Matt and I have worked well together off and on for three years, but I have never had a non-business or operations suggestion or discussion. “Go ahead,” he said. I quickly ran through my idea, told him I sketched something out, and described why I thought it was both feasible and had financial merit. As I’m talking I’m thinking Matt’s saying to himself, “Why the blank is an accountant talking to me about ‘an invention’ using my technology?”

At the end of my three or four minutes of rambling (still driving), I laughed and asked, “So what do you think?” There was definitely a pause on the phone. He then said something that was oddly energizing. “That’s pretty interesting… That’s actually really interesting…”