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Design is Problem Solving - Emphasizing the Problem

23 October 2012 by NCCMMS

Puzzle piece

Puzzle piece (Photo credit: Joey Day)

Are we making "things" on purpose?

Here's a link to a post on Whitney Hess's Blog, "Pleasure and Pain", where she tells the story how important it is to understand what problem you are solving when you bring a new product into the workplace.  I suggest reading her article; however, the crux of the story is that the P&Gengineers thought that they were solving a problem by creating a better floor cleaning chemical.  The real problem that people in the home were having, though, was that wet mopping was very messy.  P&G created the Swifter to solve the messiness problem. 

Whitney's three principles of problem solving:

Process: Define the problem before trying to solve it.
People: Ask questions to root out the truth.
Purpose: Be obsessed with the problem, not the solution.
This approach is very relevant to the medical modeling and simulation community.  Unlike theDepartment of Defense (DoD) industry, there is neither a focused effort nor a process helping to derive the needs, or requirements, for new technologies.  While healthcare providers have both evidence-based and theoretical appreciation for the promise of medical modeling and simulation in their workplace, they don't quite yet know for sure what they need.  Even worse, they are challenged to state their needs in a way that can be translated into engineer-speak and made into a "thing".  

I propose that the healthcare community needs to create and embrace a process by which capability gaps are identified, categorized as addressable (or not) via modeling and simulation (because, clearly, all things are not), and codified into a need or requirement that can be used as a basis for discussions about design.

 At some level, this will improve the advancement of medical modeling and simulation and the inevitable payoff in improved patient safety.  Making "things" on purpose is the intelligent approach, don't you think? 
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