Skip to main content

The Next Big Thing Is Waiting In Somebody's Garage

A deeply-held tenet of innovation theory is that companies innovate and consumers buy. New research from M.I.T.'s Sloan School of Management suggests that this traditional division of labor may be breaking down.

Financed by the British government, the survey found that "...the amount of money individual consumers spent making and improving products was more than twice as large as the amount spent by all British firms combined on product research and development over a three-year period."

User innovation is a major force in areas as diverse as open-source software, sporting equipment, the Internet and social networking (e.g. Twitter's List and Retweet features), even medicine and technology.  The study estimates that users produce 77 percent of the innovation in scientific instruments.

In my work on business incubation, I've run across an idea I call a "tinkerer's paradise."  Take one of the many vacant factories here in SW Michigan and stuff it full of donated machine tools, metal working equipment, industrial lathes, cutting and milling machines, molding equipment, anything a tinkerer might need to take an idea from the back of a napkin to a working prototype. 

Offer the space free of charge to anybody with such an idea.  An engineering student.  An unemployed auto engineer.  A retired physician.  Maybe you, maybe me.  I can probably get a factory donated to the cause.   Anybody want to help me raise funds for equipment?  Let me know.

The Next Big Thing may be waiting in somebody's garage.

What would happen, do you think, if users were asked to tinker with hospital design and processes?  I'll bet they'd do no worse than the "professionals" and probably a lot better.


Popular posts from this blog

Being Disrupted Ain't Fun. Deal With It.

Articles about disrupting healthcare, particularly those analogizing, say, Tesla's example with healthcare's current state, are frequently met with a chorus of (paraphrasing here) "Irrelevant! Cars are easy, healthcare is hard." You know, patients and doctors as examples of "information asymmetry" and all that. Well, let me ask you this: assuming you drive a car with a traditional internal combustion engine, how much do you know about the metallurgy in your car's engine block? I'll bet the answer is: virtually nothing. In fact it's probably less than you know about your own body's GI tract. Yet somehow, every day, us (allegedly) ignorant people buy and drive cars without help from a cadre of experts. Most of us do so and live happily ever after (at least until the warranty expires. Warranties...another thing healthcare could learn from Tesla.) Now, us free range dummies - impatient with information asymmetry - are storming healthcar…

Becoming Consumer Friendly In Five Easy Steps...Or Not

An article at offers hospitals 5 steps to becoming more consumer friendly.

If you still think there's a secret sauce to your hospital becoming more "consumer friendly," these 5 steps are as good a place to start as any.  Unfortunately, it's a little like that old Steve Martin comedy bit where he says he'll teach you how to be rich. The first step is to go find a million dollars.

Step 1 from the article is realizing that "...a Medicare beneficiary with chronic conditions is different from a young mom who brings her kids in for an annual check-up." This is market segmentation for beginners, and, yes, one size decidedly does not fit all. I'm sure your marketing team's been saying this for a while.

Steps 2-5: have a strategy, metrics, a champion and resources. OK. Hard to argue with any of those.

But those things, alone or together, won't overcome culture. They're important components to be sure, but insufficient without a …

Behind Every Resume Is A Potential Customer...and Karma.

I recently heard from an executive colleague who, thanks to a merger, found herself looking for her next opportunity. Her story, probably depressingly familiar to many of you, was all about the big black hole of rudeness and non-responsiveness that so often sums up employers' attitudes toward candidates.

This colleague, thinking she'd see the healthcare world from a new vantage point, pursued opportunities with consultants, IT vendors, architects and other suppliers who, far from appreciating her solid resume, were like the 3 Stooges of clueless.

So back to a senior health system role she went, WHERE SHE NOW INITIATES AND MANAGES RFPs FOR SOME OF THE VERY SAME COMPANIES who wouldn't talk to her as a candidate, but profess their LOVE for her now that she's got money to spend on their services.

Not gonna happen. Any guesses who's off the RFP list?

I smiled when I heard her story, imagining the BusDev people working hard to grow the revenue pipeline, all the while b…