Good Innovation Doesn’t Happen Alone

Author: Tom KraMer

Saving money is not instant gratification. It takes time and patience for an eventual payout that makes you grateful that you sacrificed all those years while saving.

When it comes to health the principle is the same. My wife is a holistic practitioner, and sometimes she has patients who complain that supplements and fresh organic foods are expensive. She mused yesterday that in our household, we may spend more on organic foods, supplements and natural remedies than the “average” family, but we save tenfold on doctor bills, prescriptions, and co-pays. The payoff from our years of ‘health saving’ will hopefully be a healthier and more secure future.

It just dawned on me today that the same thinking applies to innovative design and development. You can always find ways to do things cheaper, but often those choices are ‘short term’ thinking for the instant gratification of perceived savings now, but they have the potential to rob you of your more important payoff down the road.

If your goal is to develop a reliable and well-adopted medical device, you could hire individual CAD people and prototypers working out of their garages and basements, and appear to save some money up front. There is a time and place when that may be necessary. However, it may not be your best move in the early stages of medical device development. Getting a concept prototype cheaply can be attractive now, but what about the risks that could come with that method?

To help reduce the risk of developing the wrong thing, (a catastrophic cost event late in the process) a full-fledged development consultancy employs a wide variety of disciplines, which brings views of risk to the table that you may not otherwise get. Plus, all the people in from those disciplines bring their points of view from their respective experiences in their fields. This not only reduces risk, but it increases the propensity for innovation.

Innovations come about in large part from ideas that build off the ideas of others. If you are a lone wolf, no level of experience is going to match the innovation that comes from bouncing ideas off other members of the team. This is where the adage “The whole is more than the sum of its parts” becomes a reality.

The ways that innovative thinking can help your medical device be successful are more numerous than typically thought. It’s not just the cool function and new technology that are the results of innovative thinking. Cost efficiency, manufacturability, user adoption, marketability, extended usefulness, sound exit strategy, and countless other aspects can enhance your success, and are often the result of innovative thinking that comes from seasoned professionals working together as a team sharing ideas and finding solutions.

In the end, the money you save by going to market with the right device, and getting there efficiently with an experienced team, will far outweigh the benefits you feel you may get by cutting corners early. Stephen Covey’s principle, “Begin with the end in mind” certainly rings true when it comes to successful, innovative medical devices.