by Mark PhilipMay 21, 2012
MP Consulting talks about new product development and innovation, and the impact of third party expertise and creativity.
I want to talk about a real world example of accomplishing the so-called impossible with a little innovation and great teamwork. Back in the early 1990’s, I was sent out to Japan as General Manager by my company, Baxter International, to help develop a new market using a novel therapy for patients with end stage renal disease (kidney disease). At the time, most patients received hemodialysis in a special center, where they were hooked up to a machine three times a week to clear their blood of toxins that had built up due to their kidney disease. The therapy was very effective, but patient’s lives were disrupted by the attending the clinic three times a week, and just before their therapy they felt awful due to the build up of toxins.
My company had spearheaded the development of a novel new therapy known as Ambulatory Peritoneal Dialysis or APD, which provided dialysis continuously while the patient went about their normal life. The impact on patient’s lives was transformational, freeing them up to participate in every day activities and because the therapy was continuous allowed them feel well most of the time; a real innovation. The only problem was they still had to hook up to a machine to replenish the fluids in their peritoneum, and the machine was rather large – the size of a washing machine.
In Japan, the average house size is not large enough to house such equipment; most Japanese families live in a very small space, often with just one main room that doubles up as living space in the day and a place to sleep at night. The APD machine we had was just not practical.
Instead of a washing machine size we needed a shoebox -sized machine for the Japanese market. I flew back to the USA and met with the development guys, who after a lot of discussion, and questioning me about function and design, they concluded it was impossible to make a shoebox sized APD machine that would have the same or similar function to the existing machine used in the USA and Europe.
Not satisfied with this outcome, I asked the head of development if I could go outside the company to get help, to which he agreed. I had previously met a young entrepreneur up in New Hampshire who built clocks, sized-down electronics and was currently building helicopters. He was known to be an incredible engineer, an inventor and innovator and very creative with electronics. His name was Dean Kamen (you know, the guy that created the Segway). He was, and remains, an amazing character, and after a hair-raising flight in one of his smaller helicopters from his home to his office, I presented him with a shoebox and the need for the Japanese market to have a fully functional APD machine that would fit inside. He asked about functionality and design, how the kidney dialysis patient would use the machine, what information readouts were needed and a host of other questions. Six weeks later, I flew back to Baxter, where Dean demonstrated the first working prototype of the shoebox sized APD machine. We were all shocked, surprised and elated that he had pulled off the task and had a prototype that could at least perform the key functions in such a short time.
We needed help from the Baxter development team to finesse the product and they worked diligently with Dean and his team to create ever better prototypes. It took a while longer to prepare a fully functional machine that passed all the regulatory requirements for the USA, Europe and Japan, but a phenomenal product emerged which is still sold today by Baxter, known as Homechoice.
The lesson I learned, and the lesson the company learned was that sometimes you cannot solve every problem in-house, and sometimes you have to go outside your comfort zone and tap into the creativity and genius of others.
Hopefully this has given you something to think about. My goal is to make your life easier and to ensure you are as productive as possible. I hope you enjoyed this and that you will send me your comments, subscribe and link to my blog at http://mpconsulting.worpress.com , and if you need help, or need to ask me a question, go to my blog and address it to Mark Philip.
To obtain a copy of Mark Philip’s book, The Strategic Plan Guide, go to any of these sites below: Amazon paperback and kindle: http://amzn.to/HioChC or go toCreateSpace Paperback: http://bit.ly/HDq24P and use the CreateSpace Discount Code: QYFGMH77 (15% discount code)
To obtain a copy of Mark Philip’s book, The Business Plan Guide, to to any of the these sites below: Amazon paperback and kindle: http://amzn.to/JDHVzE or go to CreateSpace Paperback: http://bit.ly/Is5s50 and use the CreateSpace Discount Code: EJD5HD2M (15% discount code)
Free Guides are also available from my blog site on a number of business subjects including: Strategic Planning, Business Plans, Marketing Plans, Social Media Planning, Public Relations Planning, Time Management, Negotiating Strategies, Effective Business Meetings, Due Diligence, and many others. To visit my blog, go to http://bit.ly/KwlUzI
MP Consulting Services specializes in the areas of strategic planning, leadership, marketing and social media. Mark Philip, principal at MPCS, has over 20 years experience in managing businesses, both small and large, has orchestrated multiple turnarounds, built product pipelines, launched new products, sold companies and created significant shareholder value. Let me know how I can help you with your business challenge.
For More Information: visit my blog at http://mpconsulting.wordpress.com or visit my LinkedIn account at http://www.linkedin.com/in/markpconsulting
Copyright © 2012 Mark Philip
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