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Doug Dietz Case Study/ MRI Scanner Case Study - How to think outside the box

Ashish Kumar
Posts: 28
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Joined: 9 months ago

I’m going to teach you a very powerful method by which you can practically evaluate all your ideas and understand whether each one of those ideas has the potential to change the world, eventually giving you more scope to be able to execute those ideas and bring them to life. And if you think I make sense to you, please share this post with as many people as possible.


The first step that is supposed to follow is to jot down your ideas about any product or service and then check that product or the service for something called customer desirability. Now, people, if you look at the greatest failures of the 21st century, that is blockbuster Nokia and Kodak, these companies do not fail because they do not have access to the best technology in the world. These companies did not fail because they did not have enough money, but they simply failed because they failed to understand their customers desires.


Now, let us try to understand customer desirability using a very simple example, We all have heard about this machine called the MRI scanner. It is known as a technological model which has saved millions of lives since its invention. Now, Doug Dietz was the engineer in 2012 who was working with General Electric and was working on a new design of the MRI scanner. After years of hard work, finally, Doug Dietz finished his design and for the first time, he was about to absorb the operation of his machine in real time with doctors and with patients. So when he visited the hospital, he was full of excitement but when he started to make the observations about how the MRI scanner was being operated, he witnessed something that was completely disturbing. What he observed is that there was a little seven year old girl who had actually come with her parents & as she was getting closer to the MRI scanner, she was getting more and more scared, after a certain point, she started crying so bad that the doctors, Doug Dietz and the parents, all of them got disturbed. That is when Doug Dietz understood that there was a very big problem with the MRI scanner, which was getting the kids alert. And that is why he started to talk to the doctors to try to understand what exactly was the problem. And what he understood after talking to all of these doctors is that all the kids were actually being put through the MRI scanner, had a very, very terrible time. In fact, they were so mentally disturbed that 80 percent of those kids had to be sedated, as in they had to be given anesthesia so that they wouldn’t move inside the MRI scanner. That is when it’s understood that there was a very big problem with these so-called technological module. And that night he couldn’t sleep peacefully. In fact, every time he noticed this incident at an international conference, he’d just get on the story without having tears in his eyes. And why the world considered Doug Dietz to be a genius who was able to redesign the MRI scanner. He considered himself responsible for the horrors and the traumatic process that the parents, doctors and the kids had to go through.


And from that day onwards, Doug Dietz took it upon himself to fix this problem and goes back to his team and tells them that they are going to redesign the entire MRI scanner, which people normally don’t do. if you will, to redesign something as complicated as an MRI scanner. It would cost you millions of dollars and it would take years to actually bring that idea to reality. But you know what, guys? Within a few weeks, Doug was able to come out with such a magical idea that, first of all, it took the entire world by surprise. And second of all, the very same kids who were extremely scared to get into the MRI scanner, were extremely excited to get into the exact same scanner.


The question is, what the hell did he do? Doug Dietz redesigned the MRI scanner. Instead of actually making engineering design changes to the MRI scanner. He altered the entire MRI scanner and the MRI scanning room itself into a pirate ship. And instead of telling the kids that they were going to be put through the scan and sort of telling them about the disease, they were told that they were going on an adventure. And the MRI scanner was so beautifully designed that the Kids were actually put through the scanner without giving them anesthesia.


They were told that they were going on an adventure such that there would be a noise which would say, please don’t move because we don’t want the pirates to get you. And the kids will be put through the MRI scanner and they would be engaged in a beautiful story, but in the end, to escape the pirates such that they could come as survivors on the other end. And this is the reason why this time, the very same kids who were extremely scared were super excited to get into the MRI scanner. After all of this Doug Dietz visited the hospital again, and that is when he sees another little girl who’s constantly pulling her mother and saying that It was so much fun. She was asking that whether they can come back here tomorrow? And that is when everybody in that room had a smile on their face and tears rolled down the disease. And that is when he considered what he did to be an incredible achievement. And the beauty of the story doesn’t an angel. After two years of execution of this idea, when Doug Dietz finally had a conversation with all the doctors, the doctors reported that out of the hundreds of kids who were actually put through the MRI scanner, only two kids had to be sedated. And rest of the kids do not need any additional medical assistance. Because most of the kids do not have to be sedated. Even the anesthesiologist do not have to be guarded all the way from another city because of which cost of the operation is also decreased by a large extent and because the whole complexity of sedation was not needed, more kids would actually put through the MRI scanner because of which even the efficiency of the operation short up.


Now, even if you look at the beauty of this idea, there was no engineering involved and yet the efficiency of the operation was increased by a large extent. There was no economics involved, and yet the cost of the operation was brought down by a large extent. And most importantly, this idea was so easily executable that it was scalable all across the world within just a few weeks. And all of this happened because Doug Dietz paid attention to something called customer desirability. Now, the reason why Doug Dietz is a legend is because he acknowledged the problem of the kids and he considered it important to actually fix the problem that the kids were facing. Otherwise, of the same thing that happened in India, our older generation would be like, give that kid one slap and just put him in. Second of all, instead of making assumptions, he actually made observations. He ran to the daycare centers to understand the kids, to understand what exactly are they genuinely interested in. He spoke to the pediatricians to understand the psychology of the kids. And after understanding the pain of the kids, he actually ventured into understanding of the interest of the kids. And that is when he discovered that kids actually feel very safe in spaces, which has animated elements and cartoon characters. And if you see, on one hand, while a conventional engineer would never, ever bother to understand a cranky kid’s problem, on the other hand, we have Doug Dietz, who actually acknowledged the problem and tried to understand that.


So the first lesson that all of us have to learn is that Every mandatory, undesirable experience often offers huge scope for an innovative product and a service. And if you look at the inventions around you, the undesirable yet mandatory experience of standing in line to get the ticket to your favorite movie led to the invention of BOOKMYSHOW. The undesirable experience of actually going on a vacation and not being able to find the best hotel led to the invention of OYO. So every time you spot a process that is mandatory and undesirable, you need to take note of that because the solution to that problem could be a game changing idea, which could give birth to a new product or service.


The second lesson that all of us have to learn is something called widening the gap which means that there will always be a difference in the way you look at things and your customers look at things. And unless you learn to see the world from your customers perspective, you will never be able to solve their problem. In our case, while the doctors perceive the MRI scanner as a technological model and they consider it to be a life saver. The kids perceived it as a monster and unless Doug Dietz had taken the efforts to understand the perspective of the kids, he would have never been able to spot the problem. And after spotting the problem when he visited the daycare centers and when he visited the pediatrician to look at things from the kid’s perspective, that is when he was able to come out with this ingenious idea. So the next time you want to find a solution to a problem instead of directly jumping to the solution. When you talk to the people who can give you a deeper understanding of your customers perspective and once you begin to get a deeper understanding of your customers perspective, you will begin to see that automatically you are inching closer and closer to the solution.


The last lesson, people always remember that everybody in this world learns how to see. But very few people actually learn how to observe. And that is what separates the good from the great. Thank you.