To innovate at large companies, proponents of user-centered design need to go off the radar and develop a solution that meets the needs of the business while delivering something management never could have imagined.
Medical device designers that champion the use of human-centered design—especially at large companies—often find themselves fighting a constant uphill battle.
In addition to the importance of allaying fears often associated with medical device interaction, user-center design can enhance the patient experience, increase patient compliance, and improve patient outcomes—benefits that offer a competitive advantage, particularly in the age of Obamacare.
But creating a mutisensory experience, conducting extensive ethnographic research, and agonizing over a color palette may seem like a waste of time and resources to management, which wants to get product to market as fast as possible and start making money.
“The more we can do in any patient environment to put them at ease and for us to understand what their care pathway needs to be, the better it is for the company, the more efficient it is, and the less money it’s going to cost,” explained Bob Schwartz, general manager of global design at GE Healthcare, during a panel at the AdvaMed 2015 conference in San Diego this week. “The hardest thing to do is convince the business that all of that matters.”
One tactic is for designers at big companies to apply the old “show, don’t tell” philosophy and demonstrate the true value of design thinking, according to Schwartz. He advised designers to seek out a senior leader at the company who is struggling with a challenging business problem and use design tools, techniques, and strategies to help solve that problem. The key, he stressed, is to make it about solving the problem and earning trust—not yourself.
To innovate, Schwartz said, designers have to work at achieving buy-in from other disciplines, such as engineering and marketing. “You have to take the tools and the techniques you use to innovate and bring others into the circle; we call it recruiting the army we don’t control.”
Ultimately, though, designers may have to go rogue. “If you work in a large company, if you’re an innovator, you have to be willing to get a bloody nose. You have to be willing to take some risks and—I say this with love in my heart—you have to be a little subversive,” Schwartz said. “You sometimes have to do things under the radar in order to bring the business things they never imagined were possible. And after the beatings subside because you’ve [actually] been delivering on the business, they become badges of honor and the fear goes away.”
Shana Leonard is the vice president, content, at UBM Canon. Reach her at [email protected].
[image courtesy of NUM SKYMAN/FREEDIGITALPHOTOS.NET]