I did something unbelievable last week. I successfully persuaded the founder of a 150-person medical device company to adopt the entire User Experience process within their product development cycle. I felt both super accomplished, but I also felt very anxious because I did not know how everyone else was absorbing the information. I was able to do that because I’ve worked on or been exposed to almost every single product from both the capital equipment and the consumables (catheters) side. This gave me advantage of understanding the entire product ecosystem of my current company.
My boss was the first person I’ve convinced long ago when I started applying UX in the medical device manufacturing setting. I have preached UX for a long time and my boss recognized the value of UX after a while, not just from a prototyping/usability testing standpoint, but also from a user research perspective – understanding what users and other stakeholders want and need.
Back in mid-April, I took my first field trip to a hospital case with our Sr. R&D Director, our Sr. R&D Manager and one of our R&D Engineers. During this case, I’ve gathered so much information in such a short, informal meeting with the physician and lab technicians. This includes observations (looking at how doctors move in and out of the catheter lab, how they use different tools, the environment/space of the catheter lab, etc.) and interviews with both the physician and the techs (informal chatting in this case). This gave me enough information to come up with a brief user research example.
It was a long day for me, but it got me so excited because I gathered a bunch of notes that could be useful for understanding our users (to start with…). My boss then encouraged me to create a presentation because we could show them a lot of insights that they have neglected or ignored throughout the entire product development process.
I created the presentation…pretty much with the intent of educating what user experience exactly is, and how it should be very applicable to our own process. It wasn’t just user experience information by itself, but I incorporated all of our product relevancy including what we’ve been doing well, what we could improve on, what we should do and what we should not do, from a UX perspective.
At the same time, our founder was having big team meetings with all of the teams in the company, and that was my first real conversation with him (I’ve worked in this company for 3+ years — I usually shy away from management people…). During the meeting, I truly empathized with his passion to help patients and giving them good long term results so that they wouldn’t have to keep coming back to the hospitals for further treatments. At that time, I really felt for him and I really wanted to help him by giving him a different perspective of looking at business, product development and user experience. So, instead of presenting my PDF to one of the project teams, I ended up convincing myself to present to our founder, which was only our second conversation ever.
As a result of my UX Strategy presentation to the founder, the founder sent me an email copying the entire company a day later thanking me for enlightening him and showing him a lot of the underlying issues that we haven’t been addressing. And the best of all, I conveyed my message to everyone that “You are not your user!”. Also, as a result of this understanding, one of the new product development projects just got shut down by management because there were poor direction and no one on the team understood what the main users needed/wanted. The entire project basically relied on what engineers thought what the users would need, and frankly, it was just going to be another disaster if it were to move forward without change.
All in all, I think this was one of my biggest personal accomplishments because I was able to convince the founder who is very famous (invented the first over-the-wire balloon catheter used for percutaneous transluminal coronary angioplasty, AND founded at least 5 companies in his career) and successful in the medical device world, and that I was able to educate others within the company on how UX would be very critical to any product development.
The world is consistently changing; the next thing you know might be completely different. Unfortunately, what used to work back in the days may not work anymore (or it’d take a whole lot more effort). I believe we should always keep up and adapt to how the world is evolving.