Discovery: Backbone of Medical Research and Innovative Businesses

© peshkova /

© peshkova /

The day world-renowned heart surgeon Dr Victor Chang was shot I sat in my office fielding media calls about him, unaware of their significance. I was then the publicity officer at a large public teaching hospital based on Sydney’s North Shore.

I routinely handled around four incoming media calls a day but on July 4, 1991 the calls spiked. Early that afternoon journalists were urgently calling to check if I’d heard anything about “unconfirmed reports involving Victor Chang.”

I hadn’t, although watching TV news that night I learned the terrible truth about his murder, together with the rest of Australia and the world.

As heart disease is now the nation’s second biggest killer, statistically, many of you reading this could one day benefit from Dr Chang’s legacy.

He was a pioneer in heart surgery and, by all accounts, a passionate believer in the power of discovery. This year his eponymously named institute is celebrating 20 years of discoveries.

Business needs a discovery mindset

Business understands the importance of research in leading to important discoveries, although organisations using a design-led thinking approach turn up the heat.

In simple terms, the research they conduct brings an empathy for customers so they can discover who they are and what interests them, with the view to deliver value to the business.

Inventors and entrepreneurs will tell you that the best solutions are always generated by deep insights into people’s behaviour.

A couple of ways that you can bring empathy to your work as you set out to discover more about your customers include:

  • Observe them closely in their natural environment. Ask your customers questions to find out how they think and why they do things a certain way.
  • Take on another job, task or volunteer project aligned with your main role to spend time understanding your customers in more detail. For example, some pharmaceutical organisations encourage pharmacists in their medical affairs teams to practice outside of work. This gives them direct access to customers to find out what they really think and feel about ‘health’ and their prescriptions.

The above exercises sound easier than they are. The trick to finding useful information through bringing empathy is to park your judgment and aim to see things from a new perspective. You never know what you’ll discover.

A passion for discovery and how it could create a positive impact for people is no doubt what drove Dr Victor Chang and what drives innovative businesses.

  • What would you most like to discover as you go about your daily routine? Why?



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