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Tuesday 21 May 2024

In the realm of project management, understanding and resolving bottlenecks can radically transform a company’s efficiency. A bottleneck, in the industrial and organizational context, is a phase in the production process or value chain where demand exceeds production capacity, causing delays and inefficiencies. Without realizing it, you might even be a bottleneck in your company’s chain.

This article explores the nature of bottlenecks, their impact on production, and offers strategies to identify and overcome them.


What is a Bottleneck?

The term “bottleneck” refers to a restriction in a production or logistics process that limits the overall flow. Like in a bottle, where the neck is the narrowest part controlling the flow of liquid, a bottleneck in a process limits the throughput and performance of the entire system.


Identifying Bottlenecks

Identifying bottlenecks starts with analyzing processes where capacity is fully utilized but insufficient to meet demand. This identification can be complex, especially in large manufacturing systems or logistical processes. Some telltale signs can put you on the right track. Frequent delays in a particular process, lengthening queues, or resources that are constantly overloaded are all warning signals indicating the presence of a bottleneck in the process.


Production Bottleneck

In a production context, a bottleneck can occur on an assembly line where a particular station works more slowly than others, thus accumulating semi-finished products. For example, if a packaging machine is slower than the assembly line, it becomes a restriction point for the entire production.


Logistical Bottleneck

In logistics, a bottleneck can be caused by a lack of transport capacity, customs delays, or inefficiencies in inventory management. These bottlenecks can significantly increase costs and delivery times, directly impacting customer satisfaction.


Lean Bottleneck

The Lean methodology focuses on eliminating bottlenecks to optimize production flow and reduce waste. The Lean approach aims to create a more balanced system with a continuous flow, specifically targeting points that hinder overall performance.


Strategies to Overcome Bottlenecks

Now that we have established the different types of bottlenecks, what strategies can you implement to overcome them?


Increasing Capacity at the Bottleneck

One of the most direct approaches is to increase capacity at the bottleneck by adding machines, increasing the number of employees, or extending working hours.


Optimizing Existing Processes

Another strategy involves optimizing existing processes through employee training, equipment improvement, or reducing unnecessary delays. Analyzing cycle times at each step can reveal significant improvement opportunities.


Using Advanced Technologies

Adopting advanced technologies such as automation and artificial intelligence can help prevent and manage bottlenecks by increasing the speed and accuracy of impacted operations.


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Monday 29 April 2024

Our mission at Triode? Accelerate your product development. In a constantly evolving world, product development is essential for companies that want to remain competitive in the market. Regardless of your business sector, this post will guide you through the key stages of product development.

The Role of Product Development

Product development plays a crucial role in the success of a company. It transforms ideas into tangible products that meet customer needs and generate value. Here are the critical steps of the product development process:


I. Ideation and Conceptualization


The first step in the product development process is ideation and conceptualization. This is when ideas take shape and concepts are explored. Here are some key points of this stage:

  • Idea Generation: Encourage creativity within your team and explore different avenues to meet market needs.
  • Viability Assessment: Analyze each idea to evaluate its technical feasibility and commercial potential.
  • Setting Goals and Specifications: Establish clear goals for your product and define the technical specifications needed for its realization.


II. Feasibility Analysis 

Once ideas are conceptualized, it’s essential to perform a thorough feasibility analysis. Here are some elements to consider:

  • Market Study: Analyze the market to understand customer needs, evaluate the competition, and identify opportunities.
  • Profitability Analysis: Estimate development costs, sales forecasts, and evaluate the potential profitability of the product.
  • Resource Evaluation: Identify the material, human, and technological resources needed for product development.


III. Design and Development 

Once the feasibility of the product is established, it’s time to move on to concrete design and development. Here’s what you should pay attention to:

  • Design Creation: Design the appearance and functionalities of the product based on previously established specifications.
  • Prototyping: Create prototypes to test and validate the concept with users.
  • Product Development: Transform the prototype into a functional product using best software development practices.

IV. Testing and Quality Assurance 


Once the product is developed, it’s essential to test it and ensure its quality. Here are some key steps to follow:

  • Functionality Tests:  Verify that all product features work correctly.
  • User Testing:  Have a group of users test the product to gather feedback and suggestions for improvement.
  • Bug Fixes and Enhancements:  Correct bugs identified during testing and make necessary improvements to optimize product performance.

V. Product Launch and Marketing 


Once the product has passed quality tests, it’s time to launch it on the market. Here are some important points to consider:

  • Launch Strategy: Define a clear launch strategy to reach your target audience.
  • Marketing and Communication: Develop impactful marketing campaigns to promote your product and attract potential customers.
  • Establishing Partnerships: Identify strategic partners to collaborate on promoting and distributing your product.


VI. Feedback and Improvement 


Product development is a continuous process. It is essential to gather user feedback and constantly improve your product. Here are some key steps:

  • Feedback Collection: Listen carefully to user comments and identify opportunities for improvement.
  • Data Analysis: Analyze collected data to gain valuable insights into product usage and user behavior.
  • Ongoing Updates and Improvements:  Incorporate user feedback into regular product updates to meet the changing needs of the market.
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Design thinking: a revolutionary method to boost innovation and creatively solve challenges

Wednesday 3 April 2024

We can hear you asking what design thinking is. In a few words, it’s a revolutionary method to boost innovation and creatively solve challenges. In this article, we’re going to dive into the world of design thinking, clearly explaining what it is and how to apply it in your business. Whether you’re an entrepreneur, project manager, or product manager, design thinking is part of Triode’s culture as it offers a powerful approach to creating value and driving growth. Ready to dive into the creative process? Let’s go!


Design thinking is much more than just a design process. It’s a comprehensive approach that encourages innovation, collaboration, and the solving of complex problems. At the heart of design thinking are the users’ needs, a deep understanding of the context, and a solution-oriented mindset. It’s a method that allows for questioning conventions, pushing boundaries, and discovering new opportunities.

Understanding design thinking

To truly understand design thinking, it’s crucial to be familiar with its fundamental principles and the key stages of the process. Here’s an overview to get you started:

Fundamental principles of design thinking:

  • Empathy: understanding the needs and challenges of the users.
  • Define: clearly identifying the problem to be solved.
  • Ideation: generating creative ideas without judgment.
  • Prototype: creating tangible solutions to test and iterate.
  • Test: evaluating the prototypes with users and gathering feedback.

Key stages of the design thinking process:

  1. Research and observation: dive into the world of the users to understand their needs, motivations, and challenges.
  2. Synthesis: analyze the collected information and identify the main problems to solve.
  3. Idea generation: organize brainstorming sessions to generate as many creative ideas as possible.
  4. Prototyping: create tangible prototypes to bring your ideas to life and test them with users.
  5. Testing and iteration: gather user feedback on the prototypes, iterate, and improve your solutions.

Applying design thinking in business

Now that you have a basic understanding of design thinking, let’s see how to apply it concretely in your business. Here are the key steps to follow:

  1. Identify the problems and needs of the users: Immerse yourself in the world of your users to understand their challenges, frustrations, and aspirations. Use observation techniques, interviews, and surveys to gather valuable information.
  2. Generate ideas and explore creative solutions: Organize brainstorming sessions with your team to generate as many ideas as possible. Encourage divergent thinking and do not judge the ideas at this stage. Think outside the box and explore all possibilities. We also offer 10 tips to succeed in your brainstorming session.
  3. Prototype, test, and iterate: Create tangible prototypes to bring your ideas to life. Test them with users and collect their feedback. Use this information to iterate, improve your solutions, and make them more suited to the real needs of the users.
  4. Implement and evaluate the results: Once you have refined your solutions, it’s time to implement them. Develop them, launch them, and evaluate their performance. Gather user feedback and make the necessary adjustments to optimize the user experience.


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Monday 7 August 2023
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Tuesday 5 July 2022

No pain, no sale.

Developing a new product is risky. Trying to push your technology in a market is even more riskier!

People will only like your solution if they like their problem.

If they don’t think their problem is that bad, they won’t pay you to fix it.

If in doubt, insist on the pain.

Tylenols outsell vitamins!


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Wednesday 1 December 2021

Most of the entrepreneurs that I coach have plenty of ideas. Most of the companies that I work with have more ideas than $$. So what should you do with those (many) ideas? Here’s a clever seven-step technique for developing ideas you can actually use to solve business problems. Brainstorming is only the first step to innovation!

1. Define the problem and solution space. The aim here is create boundaries in the idea-generation process. What customer problem are you trying to solve? “Constraining the problem and solution space forces idea generators to delve into an area,” note the authors. “The result is typically a much broader range of ideas that are on target and have real potential to move forward toward impact.”

For example, Innosight recently attempted to solve a problem involving the distribution of drugs for multidrug-resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB). Along with their partners, they decided to focus on the drug supply chain. This boundary allowed Innosight to deemphasize other problematic areas (drug development, diagnosis, geopolitics).

2. Break the problem down. Use a visual technique, like diagramming. For Innosight, this meant mapping each part of the MDR-TB drug supply chain. They then were able to literally see all of the barriers to effective distribution. All told, they identified 12 barriers.

3. Make the problem personal. How do you make a business problem personal? By getting down in the trenches and observing the individuals who are affected by the problem (and who would also be affected by your proposed solutions). “The goal is to make it as real as possible to the people who will be generating ideas,” they write.

4. Seek the perspectives of outsiders. In other words, don’t solve the problem in a vacuum.  In this case, Innosight and its partners sought out public health experts, retail supply chain managers, and technology experts. “Having supply chain experts in each breakout group allowed us to make connections very quickly between specific chokepoints in the MDR-TB system and other supply chains where similar problems have been solved,” they note.

5. Diverge before you converge. You want to breed some conflict into your discussions. Otherwise–as we all know–a meeting can quickly devolve into a time waster, where precious minutes are lost on the first ideas to be voiced, rather than what might be the best ideas. The solution? “Start by asking participants to write down as many ideas as they can individually for five to 10 minutes. In our experience, the technique has two benefits. First, it gives introverts–who may be shy about sharing their suggestions in a larger group setting–a chance to maximize their contribution. Second, having lots of ideas on paper before the discussion begins prevents the group from rallying around any specific solution too soon.”

6. Create “idea resumes.” An idea resume is one-page document listing the following attributes: how customers will learn about it or access it; what resources or processes are needed to make it a reality; and how the solution will achieve economic sustainability. The benefit of idea resumes is that (when they’re finished) they allow all involved parties to scan and share ideas, in a way that invites “apples-to-apples” comparisons and “ensures that ideas are evaluated on their merits rather than on how well they are pitched.”

7. Create a plan to learn. Your ideas, no matter how pristine they appear on their “resumes,” will all contain assumptions that need testing. So the seventh step is to design these tests, and to spell out what you aim to learn from them. “And for businesses hoping to translate ideas into action,” note the authors, “this is where the real work begins.”

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Patrick Sirois

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Wednesday 1 December 2021

The 5 principles of Design Thinking for better product / service strategy

A survey of CEOs revealed that 80% of them thought they were delivering excellent service to their customers but only 8% of the customers agreed with them!

This is likely because business people often define customer service as problem solving, and despite the importance of that aspect, it is definitely not the whole story.

Current research shows that better service design can help businesses attract new customers, keep them for longer and create more value for them. The principles of Design Thinking demonstrate how putting the customer first can push a business forward.

  1. User Centered

    user_centered_triodeAnalyze who your customers are and what they want. This goes beyond simple statistical data, which doesn’t actually tell you much about the people behind the dry facts. Instead, focus on what your customers need and want. For instance, Nike understands that its customers are not just buying shoes; they are buying into a healthy lifestyle. The company created a product called Fuel Band which connects the shoe to GPS and social sharing so that users can measure their training and compare it with how their friends are doing.

  1. Co-Creative

    co_creative_triodeWork with all the stakeholders to create the best possible product. Stakeholders are executives, employees and customers. The customers must be involved in the process in order to produce the best possible solution to their problems. Don’t forget to ask the customers what they are searching for and what features would convince them that they have found it.

  1. Sequencing

    sequencing_triode How is the mood of the customer affected by the product or service? Is the service too slow, causing the customer to lose patience? Or, is it perhaps too fast, overwhelming the customer and leading him to give up on the service? For example, Hailo is a taxi firm app which allows customers to easily find a trusted cab service and eliminates the need to pay in cash. The developers have clearly thought about how to create a service which makes the customer feel calm and happy so that he is more likely to write a positive review of the cab ride and to use the service in the future.

  1. Evidencing

    evidencing_triode Some services are invisible and you don’t notice you are enjoying them unless someone points it out. Customers don’t want to be reminded they are getting something from you only when the bill arrives. It’s like mints on the pillow at a hotel room. You take for granted that the beds are made and don’t even think of it until you are reminded by the chocolates placed on top of them. Storytelling can be used to prolong the experience and help consumers visualize intangible services.

  1. Holistic

    holistic_triode Keep the feelings of the customer in mind at every point in the service process. The customer’s final experience is based on a series of small experiences throughout the process and is not limited to purchase. Look at pre- and post-purchase experiences to get it right. Consider offering a free gift AFTER purchase when the customer no longer expects it.

Incorporating Design Thinking into your development process is a fantastic way to create better products and services that will make your business profitable. The most effective way to do this is to hire Design Thinking experts who will train all employees in the basics and give more advanced training to a more select group who will lead the others in the application of the principles of Design Thinking.

Patrick Sirois

Note: This article is part of a series of articles about Design Thinking and its benefits for medical device companies and Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEM).

Triode helps you reduce the risks you face with new product development in complex, regulated industries such as medical devices and transportation equipment. We identify potentieal problems early on, help you mitigate them, and work with you side-by-side to define, execute and deliver successful projects on-time and on-budget.

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Wednesday 1 December 2021

Design Thinking: The latest Innovation Process.
So what Is Design Thinking and who thought of it?

Design thinking is a creative process which focuses on solutions instead of problems. It combines contextualizing problems, generating insights and executing solutions. While scientific thinking concentrates first on all the possible problems, design thinking focuses on problems and solutions simultaneously. In the corporate world, ideas are compared with customer expectations and technological feasibility to produce the most optimal product whether its a new medical device or a new customer experience.


Herbert A. Simon, in his book, The Sciences of the Artificial (1969), was the first to consider design as a way of thinking. He proposed that creative thinking had to be based on an open and evolving solution, without specific final goals.

In the 1980s, Nigel Cross recognized that in this type of thinking the most important element was the designer’s instinct. What seems like intuition is in fact analytical thinking and abductive leaps. Picture a designer standing on one side of a big hole and trying to reach the other side. According to Cross, he is not simply jumping and hoping to land on the other side. Instead, he builds a bridge with his creative reasoning which he then uses to walk safely across.

Richard Buchanan influenced the academic study of design thinking greatly in 1992, when he connected it with innovation. He listed four primary disciplines where design thinking is used:

  1.  Symbolic and visual communication (what we call today graphic design)
  2.  The design of material objects (product design)
  3.  Activities and organized services (service design)
  4.  The design of complex systems or environments for living, working, playing and learning (policy/urban planning design)

Note that not all the disciplines mentioned by Buchanan have a classic “design” element to them.

At the same time that design thinking was becoming a topic of discussion, a movement called participatory design was gaining momentum. In this approach, all the stakeholders such as partners, employees and manufacturers participated in the design problem. The disadvantage of this approach was that it ignored the feelings of the end-user. Although usability was taken into account, the emotions of the customer were ignored, especially if they conflicted with the goals of the designers. User-generated design was an improved method which veered away from efficiency and focused on the user’s experience and needs.

Design thinking has since broadened into human-centered design, which takes into account everyone involved in the product and its effect on holistic community development. Design thinking provides organizations with a deeper understanding of their consumers as individuals, increases the volume, breadth, quality and relevancy of ideas and accelerates the speed at which ideas develop.

Now you probably ask: What’s in it for me?  This will be part of upcoming blog posts.

Patrick Sirois

Note: This article is part of a series of articles about Design Thinking and its benefits for medical device companies and Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEM).

Triode is a consulting firm specialized in product strategy. We help our clients to reduce delay and risks in product development with a better understanding and identification of customers needs (Market analysis and Voice of the customer) and makes a difference with a product plan.


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Wednesday 1 December 2021

Want to innovate? Start by asking questions… and make sure you listen.

Ask questions to your customers … you may find new opportunities!

Ask about your product / service.

Understanding your customers and their behavior is crucial. We often strive to get inside their minds to understand what they buy and how they buy it. It may be more important, however, to take the time to understand their problems. This requires a level of thought and empathy that goes beyond the mere discussion.

Identify issues (friction points) of your customers and you have made a step towards the creation of an innovative product that meets their higher needs!

For this reason, companies must constantly seek “feedback” from their customers. Their answers should be used as inputs to the development of new products.

Ask about your competitors.

Ask-questions-to-your-customersIn order to effectively improve your customer experience, it is also useful to consider your competitors. Understand how you rank against the competition gives you a unique perspective when it comes to innovation. In today’s economy, this awareness is crucial for the survival of your business.

To improve your product lines, you must ask about your competitors!

What do they do better? What are their weaknesses? What distinguishes you? Through a review of the issues, you can get to understand where your business can improve. By asking questions about your competitors, you can learn how to put your business apart from the pack and focus on innovation.

In the end, innovation is far from being out of reach of SMEs. By asking the right questions, you get answers that force you to think about your future, and you can focus the work on projects that have a future… and avoid the “flavor of the month”.

The most important questions are those we DARE TO ASK!

Patrick Sirois

Triode is a consulting firm specialized in product strategy. We help our clients to reduce delay and risks in product development with a better understanding and identification of customers needs (Market analysis and Voice-of-the-customer) and makes a difference with a product plan.

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Wednesday 1 December 2021

If you are going to create a product that fulfills the needs of the customer, you have no choice but to listen to what the customer has to say. Steve Jobs had been known to say that all of Apple's breakthrough innovations have come from listening to customers. However, he did also say that focus groups and customer surveys did not yield the same results. That's because those tools are useful for tweaking existing products, but they won't help you innovate.

imgres source:

Customers only know what they like and don't like from the products that are already out there. They can't possibly imagine emerging technologies or extremely innovative ideas. Asking them what they want is going to yield mundane results that won't translate into a superior product. Instead, ask customers how they want a product to make them feel and what they want it to do for them.

In order to create value in your customers' lives, you need to understand who they are, how they live and what they want. Figuring out what their values are helps you understand what objects and services are important in their lives. If appreciation for beauty is a core value for your potential customers, a focus on the appearance of your product is in order. If freedom is an important value, the product should free up the customer's time for other pursuits.

Also crucial to the Voice of Customer process, is the mapping out of the process a customer goes through in the consuming of a product or service. First, there is the pre-decision thinking, then the actual purchase - whether online or offline, and finally, the actual consuming of the product. By talking to the customer, observing him, and pretending to be him, you can come up with ways to make the product more valuable.

Many entrepreneurs believe that they have figured it all out, and that they know what value they provide. But in fact,

" target="_blank"> the customers are the ones that decide whether your product has value - and what it is. That's why Voice of Customer is so crucial.

Patrick Sirois

At Triode, we specialize in developing new products and services for complex industries like medical devices and transportation. We work with you closely to help define product strategy, with an emphasis on reducing the risks associated with innovating in these sophisticated and often regulated consumer-oriented environments.

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Wednesday 1 December 2021

Voice of the CustomerA crucial part of a successful product strategy is understanding what the customers’ needs are. This process if called Voice of the Customer (VOC) and should be conducted as soon as possible in the product development.

Information should be gathered from a variety of sources, including individual interviews, contextual inquiry and ethnographic techniques. All of these involve in-depth interviews with potential customers, focusing on their experiences with current products and/or alternatives. After the interviews are conducted, VOC professionals compile a list of needs and organize it into a hierarchy according to the needs expressed by different types of customers.

Market studies have been around for a long time but they are typically labor intensive and ineffective. Companies sent out annual or twice a year surveys with a ton of questions to their customers. Most customers get tired just looking at it so response rates are low. Analyzing the surveys which were returned is a big undertaking and do not reveal much information.

The Voice of the Customer solution takes customer feedback and organizes it into a unified approach which describes the customer experience across multiple channels. It then derives insights from the feedback and presents it the the company in an easy to digest and actionable way.

VOC is still in its infancy; the market is currently between $400 million and $600 million in revenue. But the market is expected to grow as more companies recognize the value of obtaining valuable data which helps them develop a strategy for satisfying their customers’ needs. VOC is an affordable solution, since technology allows data to be collected easily. So VOC is not limited to the large enterprises, and small and medium sized businesses are discovering its benefits as well.

Patrick Sirois

At Triode, we specialize in developing new products and services for complex industries like medical devices and transportation. We work with you closely to help define your product strategy, with an emphasis on reducing the risks associated with innovating in these sophisticated and often regulated consumer-oriented environments.

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Wednesday 1 December 2021

You’ve developed a great new product and are ready to launch it to the world. Any good business strategist will tell you that before you launch, you need a product strategy. A product strategy is defined by as “a plan for marketing a good that is founded upon an analysis of the nature of the intended market, how much market share is to be achieved, how the good is to be marketed and how much profit is anticipated. Most business marketing directors will develop a clear and realistic product strategy prior to the launch of a new product into its intended market.” If that sounds like a lot of work and a big investment, you’re not wrong. But the benefits far outweigh the inconvenience.


What are the benefits of investing in product strategy?

Company strategy - A product doesn’t stand on its own; rather it is part of the development of an entire company. It’s important to figure out how each product marketed by the company fits into the growth strategy of the company. This helps with allocating resources and prioritizing projects.

Ownership of the process -  Development, marketing and company strategy are all involved in a product’s launch and that can cause chaos. A well-thought out strategy assigns ownership of the process to one of the departments, ensuring that decisions are carried through.

Collaboration - A product strategy spells out how the various departments will work together to reach the final goals. When the process is clear and known to everyone, collaboration is simple and conflicts are easily resolved.

Uniqueness - Each product must follow a different process, so a unique strategy is necessary for each one. For instance, a breakthrough product will require a determination of whether there is a need for the innovation, while a mature product will benefit from being optimized for efficiency.

Foundation for other corporate processes - A successful product strategy serves as a basis for other corporate decisions, such as budgets and HR.

Product strategies are not just for large businesses with equally large budgets. Not matter what size your business is, investing in a product strategy at the outset will ultimately save you time and money. It will ensure you create a better product, succeed at marketing it and move closer to your big picture corporate goals.

Patrick Sirois

At Triode, we specialize in developing new products and services for complex industries like medical devices and transportation. We work with you closely to help define your product strategy, with an emphasis on reducing the risks associated with innovating in these sophisticated and often regulated consumer-oriented environments.



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Wednesday 1 December 2021

A famous saying quoted by many CEOs is that “gambling, divorce and innovation are the best ways to lose money.” But recently, businesses have started to see the benefits of design thinking for making money through innovation. CEOs start to see that design thinking leads to happier customers, which of course leads to more sales.

Today’s companies are undergoing three major shifts, with the help of design thinking:

  • A shift from business to customer-centricity;
  • From product to services development;
  • And a change in mindset from entirely analytical to imaginative.

One company which can demonstrate return on investment for design thinking and a shift toward service development is tech manufacturer Xerox. Xerox was close to bankruptcy a few years ago, until design thinkers were brought in to transform the company completely. Xerox started to offer holistic facilities management for companies, encouraging paperless offices. They continued to market office supplies and provided round the clock cover both for their services and their products. Xerox reduced its manufacturing costs and grew its customer base, including a large contract from the UK government.

Pingit Barclays’ app

An example of customer-centric design which provides ROI is the Barclays Pingit app. This app allows customers to make payments to anybody in their contact list without needing their bank details. They can also receive payments without having to reveal their details and will get an SMS when the transaction has been made. The added convenience and security lead to customer satisfaction and more online payments.

Unilever, Water and Sanitation for the Urban Poor, and the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition used an imaginative approach to find the best way to sell clean water and health and nutrition products. They set up a fake company in Kenya, which sold the products both in kiosks and through delivery services. The salespeople were given scripts to test different ways to reach customers effectively. The organizations discovered that quality water was the driver of sales, that their customers trusted brand names, that the women in the family were the main purchasers of healthy products and that deliveries at the weekends made the most sales. They utilized all of this information to set up a successful business. This is a good example of Design Thinking Principle #4: Evidencing.

As design thinking has made inroads into twenty-first century businesses, more companies are jumping on the bandwagon and healthcare organizations like the Mayo Clinic and GE Healthcarehave found innovative ways to make healthcare both more patient-centric and more efficient. For more information on how design thinking can play a part in your organization, see our previous post, Bringing Design Thinking into Your Organization.

Patrick Sirois

At Triode, we specialize in developing new products and services for complex industries like medical devices and transportation. We work with you closely to help define product strategy, with an emphasis on reducing the risks associated with innovating in these sophisticated and often regulated consumer-oriented environments.

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Wednesday 1 December 2021

Bringing Design Thinking into Your Healthcare Organization

Healthcare organizations like the Mayo Clinic, Procter & Gamble and GE Healthcare are integrating design thinking into their company culture, in order to boost innovation and bottom lines. A 2003 Danish Design Center study showed that over a five-year period, companies using design thinking had a 40% revenue boost over companies who had not made the transition. But how do you bring design thinking into your organization?

Large healthcare organizations can benefit both from hiring in-house design thinkers and from training their entire staff to think like designers. Training workshops are geared toward changing the corporate culture and the way individual employees think about problems and solutions. Employees use various techniques, such as comic book reading, writing a haiku and mapping patient experiences, to open their minds to new ways of thinking.

The first steps in design thinking are often uncomfortable for businesses. Employees are used to thinking of solutions and not concerning themselves with the process by which they reach them or taking into account the full user experience. But when management is on board and supports the efforts of the training team, employees quickly learn to enjoy the sessions and to see how design thinking can help the business grow.

Introduction to Design Thinking Workshop by DesingThinkingSG Introduction to Design Thinking Workshop by DesingThinkingSG

In the United States, Proctor & Gamble facilitates design thinking workshops that bring together employees from across its departments, including R&D, market research, and purchasing. Employees are taught to use design methods such as visualization and prototyping to solve real problems for the company. As a result of these workshops, P &G has seen a significant rise in ideas and products inspired by design thinking.

GE Healthcare has an in-house team of 60 working on solving healthcare issues, utilizing the principles of design thinking. Employees are rewarded not just for finding solutions, but for the traits that led them there, including clear thinking, inclusiveness, and imagination. The team has found creative ways to make medical procedures more pleasant for the patient, reducing stress and improving overall health.

For some companies, an in-house team or internal workshop is not the answer. Instead, they bring in consultants from design thinking companies, who specialize in training employees to consider themselves designers. They bridge the gap between the process-driven and the design-driven and show all staff members how they can truly innovate and improve healthcare for patients, doctors and supporting medical personnel.

Patrick Sirois

At Triode, we specialize in developing new products and services for complex industries like medical devices and transportation. We work with you closely to help define product strategy, with an emphasis on reducing the risks associated with innovating in these sophisticated and often regulated consumer-oriented environments.

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Wednesday 1 December 2021

Design thinking case study: GE Healthcare

We have talked about the origin and the principles of Design Thinking in past blog posts. But how do a company really use the design thinking approach to redefine a service or a product? Here an interesting example at GE Healtcare.

Medical procedures can be scary for patients, and medical personnel are often wrapped up in the technical aspects and emotions can easily be ignored. To improve the user experience for both patients and doctors, GE Healthcare has set up a team of 60 design thinkers.

The first step in the GE process was to observe each step in the process of a medical procedure. Often, when users are asked to describe the process, they leave out crucial parts of it, because they don’t notice they are doing certain things, such as fumbling with wires and tubes. Once the process is mapped out and the problems are pinpointed, it’s time to look for solutions.

Source : Linda Alexander Source : Linda Alexander

Empathy for the patients was the first step toward understanding how they felt during the process.

The team came up with the idea of making medical equipment look more like everyday objects, to reduce the disconnect. An MRI machine was designed to remind patients of open hands, in order to install calming feelings. The inside of the device can be decorated subtly with patterns and shapes, so patients have something to look at while the exam is going on. Some MRI devices offer the patient a choice of various musical backgrounds, visual scenery and mood-lighting. Offering the patient a choice gives him some control in a scary and uncertain time.

Bob Schwartz, General Manager of Global Design and User Experience at GE Healthcare, partnered his design thinking team with students from the Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design (MIAD) to innovate specifically in the field of breast cancer.

One innovation was a hospital gown that looks more like clothing and can be worn around and outside of the hospital without embarrassment. Another design eliminated the need for intravenous poles, encasing the device inside a transportable bag. This makes it easier for cancer patients to be mobile inside the hospital.

Schwartz has said that the success of his team is due not only to creative thinking, but to an organizational atmosphere, in which ensembles of people work together and hierarchy is non-existent. The team uses techniques such as ideation and theatrical improvisation to get the creative juices flowing and to spark their imagination.

Patrick Sirois

At Triode, we specialize in developing new products and services for complex industries like medical devices and transportation. We work with you closely to help define product strategy, with an emphasis on reducing the risks associated with innovating in these sophisticated and often regulated consumer-oriented environments.

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Wednesday 1 December 2021
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How often have you purchased a new product and had trouble figuring out how to use it? How many products do you have in your home whose myriad functions you barely take advantage of? When a product is easy to use, we barely notice, but when it’s hard to use it can be really frustrating.

Product managers, designers and developers know their product so well that they can’t imagine anyone would have trouble using it. They forget that the average consumer doesn’t understand their terminology or follow their logic. It’s essential to bring in third parties to get an objective view on how well the product works and how easy it is to use.

In order to avoid developing and marketing a product that users will be frustrated with, usability testing must be conducted early in the development process. The earlier issues are identified and fixed, the less expensive these fixes will be. Each product has a list of specified tasks that a user should be able to undertake. For instance, if you are developing a location-based mobile app, users should be able to easily download the app, connect to GPS and search for and find relevant information. Usability testing can tell you whether users succeeded at these tasks and whether they were able to complete them in a reasonable amount of time. A survey of users will uncover whether they were satisfied with the product and allow developers to identify changes required to improve user performance and satisfaction.

Another reason to conduct usability testing is to see whether people use your product in ways you didn’t anticipate. If users find a new way to use the product, you can improve that feature and emphasize it in your marketing efforts.

In medical devices, usability testing is especially important because of the risk to human life. When mistakes are made in using these devices, the users are usually accused, but often the blame lies with the poorly designed product. Developers of medical devices need to consider who will be using the device, how much experience he has and where he will be using it. Usability testing will lower the number of user errors, reduce risks to patients, lower training costs and reduce cost of support and service.

Patrick Sirois

At Triode, we specialize in developing new products and services for complex industries like medical devices and transportation. We work with you closely to help define product strategy, with an emphasis on reducing the risks associated with innovating in these sophisticated and often regulated consumer-oriented environments.

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Wednesday 1 December 2021

lippincottWhen the CEO of the company that invented the Coca-Cola swirl and the Starbucks logo agrees to share some of his secrets, we should all listen carefully. Rick Wise of Lippincott writes about how his company melds creativity and practicality to make the most out of the design thinking approach.

Wise’ first strategy is to hire employees who are multi-faceted: his executives are a little bit creative and his designers are good businesspeople. Next, he looks at ways to bring these employees’ various interests and talents into the workplace. Whether their hobbies involve photography, fashion, or writing, a truly creative business will find ways to incorporate them into the creative process. In this way, experiences and emotions are brought into the work environment and the development process.

The Lippincott business model is based on democracy and collaboration. Meetings are open to any and all staff members who wish to express their opinions and brainstorm. After the initial ideas are batted around by a large group of people, the responsible department focuses the discussion and narrows down the possibilities. The company is careful to treat strategists and designers equally, including paying them equal salaries, to make it clear that both aspects of the process are equally important. Collaboration between the two disciplines is not mandated and broken down into tasks in a project management system; instead employees decide themselves how to divide up the work on a case-by-case basis.

The rules at Lippincott are purposely not rigid. Day-to-day operations allow for a lot of flexibility so that creativity can properly flourish. On the flip side, employees are treated to the big picture of goals and budgets so they know where the limits are.

Lippincott has had much success with these methods, using them to help clients go in new directions and broaden their outlook on the products they produce. How can your business incorporate these methods to foster creativity and ask “what if” instead of “why” and “how”?

Patrick Sirois

At Triode, we specialize in developing new products and services for complex industries like medical devices and transportation. We work with you closely to help define product strategy, with an emphasis on reducing the risks associated with innovating in these sophisticated and often regulated consumer-oriented environments.


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Wednesday 1 December 2021

Triode - Innovation EngineHow do you develop the right product for the future today? This is not an easy task, so many companies simply throw as many features as possible on to the product and hope for the best. This method is of course ineffective and not economically sound.

Luckily, there is a better way. Innovative companies launch successful new products over and over by asking themselves (and their customers) some key questions.

  1. Key information to the right people
    Does your innovation engine connect the right information to the right people? Does your R&D team know where the market is shifting? Do your sales reps know what technology you are working on, such that they can trigger the right questions to your customers? Does management know the top 6 innovation engine indicators to measure?
  1. Is communication two-way or one-way?
    Does your team exchange information (two-way!) constantly with you customers? Don’t just talk with your current customers. Talk to prospects, ex-customers and your more unusual customers. The unusual customers are usually the ones who have a feel for what’s next in your industry, so pay close to attention to what kind of product they say they want.
  1. Is your innovation team reflecting on the RRR?
    Reduce the number of projects or features and increase your bang for the buck from each one.
    Reuse project components. Usually much of the testing and validation is already done and proved to be compliant.
    Recycle, whenever you have the occasion. Throwing a new interface in the hands of a nurse in an emergency room is not always (never!) a good idea.
  1. Does your product solve a real customer problem?
    Start by identifying customer problems, then find innovative solutions to solve them. Make sure your solution presents a clear advantage compared to your competition. Don’t simply go with the first solution your team comes up with. Instead, analyze various ideas until you find one which works well and which can be implemented economically. While you are working on solving the problem, don’t forget to circle back periodically to check that the problem still exists and hasn’t been rendered irrelevant or been solved by another company.
  1. Did your innovation team prepare a comprehensive product roadmap?
    Roadmaps are not optional in an innovation strategy. A comprehensive roadmap will ensure you manage risk proactively and will demonstrate your company’s approach to future iterations and product development. Roadmaps are guides to keep everyone on track and in the loop, but they are not instruction manuals. It is sometimes necessary to deviate from the original plan or add extra steps.

Only 25% of new products are commercially successful. In order to perform better, start by asking yourself and your team those five questions. Although these questions are straightforward, it does require time and effort to answer them properly. However, they will ultimately save you time and money and contribute toward the innovation of truly awesome products.

Patrick Sirois

At Triode, we specialize in developing new products and services for complex industries like medical devices and transportation. We work with you closely to help define product strategy, with an emphasis on reducing the risks associated with innovating in these sophisticated and often regulated consumer-oriented environments.

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Wednesday 1 December 2021

I am always fascinated by how little companies know about their customers. Lack of knowledge about customers’ wants and needs is especially prevalent in B2B and B2B2C businesses.

source: source:

In a Business to Business model, knowing what your customer wants and, more importantly, knowing what your clients’ customers want, will lead to a better understanding of the market and more bang for your buck in the innovation process. Instead of taking the loudmouth approach, and prioritizing the project that has the most noise surrounding it, prioritize projects the market will later want. When you innovate with the future in mind, you easily create market traction.

In order to better understand your market needs, it is useful to conduct user research. As opposed to market studies, user research will bring back real data from the real world and, as a result, transform insights into tangible outcomes.

The greatest challenge of user research is to get strangers to talk freely about their needs and wants within a matters of minutes! User research is a science in which you interview a variety of people to learn more about their habits, needs, attitudes and reactions.

One must learn to suspend critical, judgmental and know-it-all attitudes and activate empathy to better understand customers’ behavior. For example, a medical devices company was looking to innovate a product for use in hospitals. Triode’s staff spent many hours in a hospital to better understand some of the stakeholders’ behaviour with the new product and to validate a change in the software interface. We discovered that nurses don’t have time to read instruction manuals or even instruction placards, so any changes needed to be seamless for the users.

When you have exact knowledge of the reality, you are able to address risk head on and reduce time to market and cost of innovation.

Patrick Sirois

At Triode, we specialize in developing new products and services for complex industries like medical devices and transportation. We work with you closely to help define product strategy, with an emphasis on reducing the risks associated with innovating in these sophisticated and often regulated consumer-oriented environments.

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Wednesday 1 December 2021

At a recent international management event, a renowned NYU professor claimed that the Voice of customer (VoC) is dead. In his tirade against VoC he said that he now relies on "customer interviews." Am I missing something here or is he?

What this gentlemen may have missed is that Voice of Customer is a strategy that comprises many tools and techniques including customer interviews, ethnography, customer journey mapping, etc.

At Triode we strongly believe that VoC techniques can lead to a better understanding of your customers and therefore result in a clearer product strategy. We define "customer" as the stakeholders who influence the use or the purchase of your solution.

So as you can imagine, Voice of customer has nothing to do with "asking what the customer wants"!

Customers want to talk to the people who will innovate for them. We recommend sending a team of two interviewers. Engage your entire team, treat VoC as a culture instead of an event, and you’ll win in the long run.

This does require new methods, motivation, and mind-set. Commercial people have been trained to sell, and technical people to solve. Both must be avoided during interviews.

Now is the time to SEARCH, NOT SELL OR SOLVE!

If you sell during VoC, customers know you’re not really interested in them. If you solve, you're shortcutting the process at the risk of missing something else. In either case, you’re wasting precious time better used to understand customer needs.

Needs and pain points are what you're looking for during a Voice of Customer visit. Sorry Professor Nadan, VoC is not dead!

Patrick Sirois

At Triode, we specialize in developing new products and services for complex industries like medical devices and transportation. We work with you closely to help define product strategy, with an emphasis on reducing the risks associated with innovating in these sophisticated and often regulated consumer-oriented environments.

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Wednesday 1 December 2021

We’ve discussed the many merits of design thinking, and now it’s time to get started on your very own design thinking session. Doing this for the first time can be daunting, especially if staff is not yet on board with the process. We’ve collected some practical tips for running a successful brainstorming session, which will give birth to new and innovative ideas.


  1. Turn off all distractions, including phones, tablets and computers. Let everyone know that in this meeting there is no multi-tasking. Everyone’s full attention must be focused on the brainstorming.
  2. Explain – and explain again – what the purpose of the session is. Ask everyone present to give it their best shot and be dialed into the solutions suggested no matter what their official job title is.
  3. Let staff know that not being creative – or not being strategic – is not an excuse for checking out. Stress that a successful design thinking session requires the melding of these two strengths, and that each participant brings his or her positive qualities to the table.
  4. Give everyone a chance to voice their thoughts. Although this may lengthen the meeting considerably, making every person in the room a part of the process is crucial. You never know where the best ideas will come from. Also, hearing each person makes it easier to divide the staff into smaller groups later on.
  5. Don’t judge or let anyone else judge any ideas. Even the silliest-sounding ideas may eventually lead to a breakthrough. And you want staff members to feel that this a safe place to express themselves, so no one keeps quiet out of fear of ridicule. You could miss the best idea if someone is too shy to speak up.
  6. The leader of the session should give the floor to others as much as possible. Design thinking is not about keeping control in the hands of the boss. Instead, it’s about opening the floor to everyone so that different perspectives can be heard and melded into one brilliant idea.
  7. Someone should be taking notes so you don’t lose all the innovative suggestions made in the session. But tracking progress should be done as unobtrusively as possible, so that it doesn’t interfere with the free thinking of the group.
  8. Note which staff members are not participating actively. They probably think that due to their job title they have nothing to contribute to the session. Encourage them by asking for their opinion directly or have them work in a group where they won’t be overshadowed.
  9. Toward the end of the meeting, start narrowing down the ideas by usefulness and feasibility (while not dismissing any ideas in a hurtful way). Make final selections of which ideas to pursue further.
  10. After the meeting is over, celebrate its success by highlighting what great ideas came out of it and how they will save the company time and money or provide the customer with a much improved product. Let participants know that their contribution was important and that you look forward to their help in the next design thinking session.

Triode team includes certified facilitators in Design Thinking that can support you in your efforts.  They will host several workshops in the coming weeks.

Patrick Sirois

At Triode, we specialize in developing new products and services for complex industries like medical devices and transportation. We work with you closely to help define product strategy, with an emphasis on reducing the risks associated with innovating in these sophisticated and often regulated consumer-oriented environments.

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Wednesday 1 December 2021

Does your new product development process begin with “Generate Idea” on the left, perhaps with a light-bulb icon? Whose idea is it - yours…or your customers? Maybe focusing on your own ideas is wrong!

Your innovation process is backwardDo you start with your own solutions to assumed customer needs? Talking to the VP of R&D of a well-known Canadian company recently, he told me that having been involved in the business for more than 15 years, "they know" what the customers want! I predict that within a few years, this company will be outrun by one competitor, perhaps a startup which has spotted an emerging need in the market just by looking at it with fresh eyes. Think Nest for the thermostat industry.

When do you look for customer needs? Do you wait until the end, to see if customers buy your solutions (new product/service)?

What if we flipped that process around and started with your customer needs instead? The advantages of the inverted process are:

  • More efficient R&D
  • More effective sales and marketing. These departments will know exactly what to tell your prospects and customers down the road.
  • You will outpace your competitors by developing truly unique solutions that no one else has solved yet.

Triode team is involved every day in Voice of customer phase. If you don't know where to start digging in the customer needs, just give me a call and I will help your team clarify the process.

Patrick Sirois

At Triode, we specialize in developing new products and services for complex industries like medical devices and transportation. We work with you closely to help define product strategy, with an emphasis on reducing the risks associated with innovating in these sophisticated and often regulated consumer-oriented environments.


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Wednesday 1 December 2021

If you follow this blog, you know that we like to get things done....despite the usual consultant approach! We like to deliver results, not reports!

We bet you like to get things done as well, so we offer these four tips for improving your company’s innovation process and getting things done faster and better:

  1. Get customer feedback quickly and often
    Do not hesitate to show "work in progress" prototypes, mock-ups, sketches or ideas to your customers. Validate your assumptions early in the process and define product requirements based on their feedback...not your most experienced engineer’s evaluations! Product developers are too close to the product to see where it needs improvement, but customers who already use similar products are an excellent source of objective and useful feedback.
  2. Make meetings matter
    Meetings should be used to make important decisions....not to get everyone up to speed. Regular communications should be fast and constant, using email or a product management software. Meetings can then be reserved for decision-making.
    The most efficient meetings have strict agendas which are adhered to, without going off onto tangents.
    Only the people who really need to be invited to the meeting should attend, so that time is not wasted explaining things to those less involved, or allowing each person to have a say. Instead, after the meeting, send a summary email to all those peripherally involved.
    Schedule meetings for less time than you think you need. This will help you finish the meeting faster and waste less time. If you schedule a meeting for a full hour, you will end up stretching it out for the whole time. But if the meeting is scheduled for half an hour, you are more likely to finish in 45 minutes. Also, don’t wait for latecomers. Start the meeting on time and let latecomers catch up on their own.
  3. Collaborate as much as possible
    Product development is like juggling with fire torches. You have to keep moving! Unlike other types of projects, you don't often know what the end result will be until you have it in your hands. Collaboration between all departments, even with employees who don’t see themselves as designers, helps develop creative and high quality innovation.
  4. Context is least for your team
    Understanding the framework of what everyone is doing is key to success throughout the product development process. By asking a few questions to your team members, you will quickly get a sense of the potential roadblocks to your project. Ask yourself: What in your existing context will help you realize your ambition, and what is likely to get in the way? Approach the innovation process holistically and make the organizational changes necessary before you start the actual process.

Following these four guidelines will help your project team become a lot more agile and improve your success rate.

Patrick Sirois

At Triode, we specialize in developing new products and services for complex industries like medical devices and transportation. We work with you closely to help define product strategy, with an emphasis on reducing the risks associated with innovating in these sophisticated and often regulated consumer-oriented environments.

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Wednesday 1 December 2021

In recent years, the market for medical devices has grown substantially in China, Mexico and Brazil. Many medical device companies are looking to these emerging markets for consistent revenue growth.

HealthcareChina is currently the third largest market in the world for medical devices and likely to become the second largest soon. 31% of the devices in use in China are imported from the United States. The Chinese are willing to pay premium prices for medical devices from Western countries, which they consider to the safest and most reliable. There are many governmental restrictions on medical devices in the country, so it does take some extra effort to enter this market.

Mexico’s economy has been improving exponentially, and as a result, Mexican healthcare organizations have begun importing better quality medical devices from countries such as the US. Mexicans are particularly interested in American devices, due to their high quality and reasonable prices. Also, Mexico serves many American patients who cross the border to receive less expensive healthcare than they can get in the US, and these customers prefer American devices. Since Mexico does not have high tariffs or import licenses, it is a good market for American companies seeking to broaden their customer base.

The Brazilian government is investing significant funds in improving its healthcare. Local companies are developing medical devices but there is still a large market for imports. Unfortunately, this market is harder to penetrate than Mexico’s, because the government has imposed high tariffs on imports. But both the government and private healthcare organizations are in the market for innovative and high quality devices and most of the major American medical device companies have already penetrated this emerging market.

In order to enter any of these markets, medical device companies must become familiar with local regulations and procedures. They must also rethink their current business models and distribution channels, which may contradict local regulations. They may have to establish local operations in order to be admitted into the country. They should also consider how their products will compete with or complement locally produced devices. But they can capitalize on the reputation of American medical devices to maintain profit margins and succeed in these markets.

What are the impacts of the emerging markets  for your company?

Patrick Sirois

At Triode, we specialize in developing new products and services for complex industries like medical devices and transportation. We work with you closely to help define product strategy, with an emphasis on reducing the risks associated with innovating in these sophisticated and often regulated consumer-oriented environments.

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Wednesday 1 December 2021


When you observe and interact directly with your customer, you get much richer information than with a simple survey. It’s true that this requires more effort on your part, but it is ultimately a much more effective way of gathering data and will help you reach real innovation. Companies who choose efficiency over effectiveness are making seven basic mistakes:

  1. They are simply not interested in their customer’s voice. They don’t ask customers anything at all and they make their decisions in a bubble. This “strategy” is clearly not effective, as it often leads to developers “solving” problems no one has or working on a problem without realizing which solutions will be rejected by the customers.
  2. They use surveys exclusively. The problem with surveys is that they are hard to get right: sound surveys and survey processes are the basis for gathering useful conclusions. Surveys often provide data points without giving you actual facts. Without facts, how can you innovate successfully?
  3. Their surveys provide a false sense of security. By asking customers only whether they like the products, companies are lulled into the false sense that they have loyal customers who will remain loyal no matter what. But customer loyalty is a fickle thing; customers go where the best products are and will quickly forget about any company which doesn’t innovate and isn’t cutting-edge. Single-question surveys can be effective, but only if the question asked is “What can we do better that would improve your experience?”
  4. They survey too much. Some companies think they will get accurate data by asking survey questions with every interaction the customer has with the business. However, too many surveys is likely to lead to customers answering based on their tolerance level for being asked the same questions multiple times. And of course, the customer experience is eroded by these extraneous survey requests. Customers may start to feel cynical about the surveys and cease to believe that their opinions really matter.
  5. They influence the results (intentionally or accidentally). Surveys often come with an added hint that the company expects positive results. For instance, they may say, “We hope you enjoyed this product. Please let us know how much by answering these questions.” If the customer is told to give positive feedback, the results will be far from objective. Timing surveys to coincide with positive experiences is another way in which surveys are skewed and inaccurate results are encouraged.
  6. They don’t visit the customers in their own environments. As much as you can learn from surveys, you can learn a lot more from seeing how your customers interact with your product and talking to them while they are doing it. Surveys cannot provide qualitative data in the way that Voice of Customer analysis can.
  7. They draw the wrong conclusions. In order to be effective, companies must really listen to each individual customer and record his personal story. Only when customers are really listened to, can qualitative data be properly analyzed and accurate conclusions reached. Paying attention to what customers are saying is obviously more time-consuming than sending out surveys.The effectiveness of the Voice of Customer analysis clearly trumps the efficiency of surveys.

Patrick Sirois

At Triode, we specialize in developing new products and services for complex industries like medical devices and transportation. We work with you closely to help define product strategy, with an emphasis on reducing the risks associated with innovating in these sophisticated and often regulated consumer-oriented environments.

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Wednesday 1 December 2021

An excellent product or service best serves all the people who interact with it. The majority of these people may be customers, but other stakeholders may include business owners, employees, investors, partner organizations, suppliers and a particular community. When you list all of your product’s stakeholders and map out the interplay between the groups you discover pain points which can lead you to explore new opportunities.

How does stakeholder mapping work?

  1. Identify all stakeholders. Brands are often not aware of some of their stakeholders or forget to mention them when asked. A fair amount of research may be necessary to compile a complete list.
  2. Once the stakeholders have been identified, the motivations and interests of each group must be clarified. Why did customers choose to try your product? What solution do they need it to provide? Why are investors funding your product? What is their desired ROI? Why did the development team create this product? What is it hoping to achieve?
  3. Map out how the groups are related to each other and how they interact with one another. This is the point at which to use visual representations to construct an easily digestible overview of the stakeholder ecosystem. Pay special attention to where interactions are not going smoothly, such as investors who are at loggerheads with business owners or customers who are dissatisfied with product support. Communication breakdowns and motivations which are not equaling performance should be clearly delineated.
  4. Analyze your stake holders map. Groupvariousstakeholderstogetheraccordingtoshareinteresttoseewhichinterests are most crucial and think about how they can be satisfied. Focus on shareholders you previously ignored and reconsider how their issues reflect ont he perception of your product. Rate shareholders according to importance and place their pain points at the top of your list of necessary improvements.
    Healthcare stakeholder map – Durak

Now that you have a stakeholder map which clearly shows which problems need to be solved, use design thinking strategies to turn these issues into opportunities for innovation. Consider whether the product itself needs a redesign or whether there are issues in customer service, pricing, marketing etc. which can be transformed in order to increase the product’s success. Use the stakeholders map to inform decision down the line too. But don’t keep using the same map forever; internal and external changes require a new map every two years.

Triode has a couple of examples of stakeholder mapping. If you want a copy, please contact us!

Patrick Sirois

At Triode, we specialize in developing new products and services for complex industries like medical devices and transportation. We work with you closely to help define product strategy, with an emphasis on reducing the risks associated with innovating in these sophisticated and often regulated consumer-oriented environments.

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Wednesday 1 December 2021


One of the key principles of design thinking is that it is customer-based. Before attempting to innovate a product which will best serve your customer, it’s important to understand how a potential customer becomes an actual customer, and how he interacts with your brand throughout the entire process. There are several touchpoints in the customer journey, from initial interest to purchase to use of the product. Examples of touchpoints in the customer journey are visiting the website, reading an email newsletter, going into a bricks and mortar store, reading the product manual and contacting customer service with a problem. For each touchpoint, you want to know how the customer felt, what he liked and didn’t like and how he would improve the product or the customer experience associated with it.

In order to document the customer journey, you can conduct interviews with new and loyal customers, asking them about their experiences at various touchpoints and mapping it out. Alternatively, you can ask customers to map out their own experiences, either by writing up descriptions or by creating videos.

Once you have gathered information from a sufficient pool of customers, map a few different journeys, according to buyer persona. You might have one journey for a web customer and another for someone who purchased in an actual store. Or you might find that women interact differently with your brand than men. Create a visual representation for each persona so employees can easily envision each of these journeys. Provide enough detail to provide real insight into the journeys, and don’t forget to include the emotions that the customers experience.

When you break down the customer experience into individual stages you can analyze each stage to pinpoint problems and look for innovative solutions. If customers are turned off by the product manual, it’s time for a redesign. Perhaps the language needs to be simplified or illustrations need to be added. If customers complain about not getting enough help from salespeople, you will want to retrain staff to give superb service. And if customers say your website is confusing and unattractive, rethink the design and create a site that is simple to navigate and beautiful to look at. You may also discover the product is not meeting the expectations of the customer or working as smoothly as expected, and a new and improved product is necessary.

A mapped out customer journey is an opportunity to look at how your brand and product are perceived by customers. Remember the objective: Truth is not important here, so there is no point in dismissing customer reactions as unfair or untrue. Instead, look at these perceptions and see how they can be overturned, either with improvements to the product itself or to the process of customer service. Create a customer journey which is filled with joy and excitement over the purchase of an excellent product which will answer the customer’s needs and turn him into a brand evangelist.

Triode can help you design your interviews or analyze the written descriptions and videos of your customers experience. Feel free to contact us for any support you may need.

Patrick Sirois

At Triode, we specialize in developing new products and services for complex industries like medical devices and transportation. We work with you closely to help define product strategy, with an emphasis on reducing the risks associated with innovating in these sophisticated and often regulated consumer-oriented environments.

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Wednesday 1 December 2021


Over the last few weeks we have talked a lot about market analysis and Voice of Customers (VoC) in this blog. But if you want to get a good return on investment from your VoC, you must take action. How do you go about doing this? This post provides some tips about the next few steps after a market analysis.

  1. Recording – During the Voice of Customer phase, you should record (with audio and/or video) what’s being said and how your customers are using your product or service. This will help capture insights so they don’t get forgotten down the road.
  2. Capture findings – Once customer visits are completed and you get back to the office, fill an 11×17 page that we call “One page customer statements.” It helps capture the essence of what was said and the customers’ behaviors onto one single page, thus facilitating the analysis. (Note: email me at if you want a copy of our tool. It can be used privately but is not for public sharing.)
  3. Dots and Patterns – At this point, you usually have 30 to 50 itemized statements or behaviors. Analyze the one page report and try to look for patterns (similar behaviors, unmet needs, pain points, etc.). We call this phase “Dots and Patterns.” Look for high and low emotional points to identify successes and problematic touchpoints.
  4. Insights – By now, you should be able to draw some insights from your analysis. Insights are discoveries that you might be able to leverage when you create solutions.
  5. Ideate – Start thinking of creative solutions to solve problems and improve the product. Brainstorming may yield a large quantity of ideas but it is important to narrow the solutions down to only high-quality ones.
  6. Value proposition – The last step in this process is to come back to earth and define what the value proposition is of each idea, to determine for yourself and for your management team that the business case makes sense. During this phase, you must consider 3 things: the customer, the product (or service) and the project.
  • The customer: Define who your customer is, what he wants, what his fears are and what substitutes are available (i.e. what do people currently do instead?).
  • The product: What will the benefits of your product (service) be? What emotions do you want the customer to feel when using it? What are the major features of your product (service)?
  • The project: What do you need to do in order to develop the product (service)? How much will you need to invest? What will the target margins be? How many units do you need to sell (monthly, yearly, etc.)? How long will it take to develop the solution?

I am always amazed by how many companies conduct market studies and leave it there. There is little point in undertaking these costly exercises if no action is taken afterward. Voice of Customer surveys should help you reach your business goals, but in order for that to happen, you must analyze results and develop practical solutions and improvements.

Following the steps outlined above will help you take action and get from a Voice of Customer or market analysis exercise to money in the bank.

Patrick Sirois

At Triode, we specialize in developing new products and services for complex industries like medical devices and transportation. We work with you closely to help define product strategy, with an emphasis on reducing the risks associated with innovating in these sophisticated and often regulated consumer-oriented environments.

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Wednesday 1 December 2021


Companies invest millions of dollars each year developing new products and trying to increase their revenues and profitability. Some of these products succeed but unfortunately most are failures. Product launch activities have a lot to do with the success rate of a new product on the market. A successful launch is based on these four strategies:

Plan adequately

Product launch must be planned early. If you start thinking about launch only when you are ready for production, you are starting way too late. Launch strategy must be planned at least 4-5 months prior to launch date, so that you have sufficient time to envision and plan your marketing activities. Plan what information you are going to release and when you are going to announce it, who you want to be talking about you and how you can create a product which people will want to talk about.

Rely on quality

Poor quality is a sure path to failure. Quality should be a priority from the beginning of any new product development project. Pressure to release a product quickly may convince business owners it is a good idea to launch a product despite the fact that it is not completely ready, on the assumption that improvements can be made later on. Unfortunately, if customers try a product and don’t like it they will not try it again and the product is likely to die an untimely death. It’s better to wait until the product is perfect even if it delays production. Keep in mind that even perceived quality could be an issue. Fitbit Force is an example of a perceived quality issue which killed a product. The Fitbit company was forced to recall the Force product following reports of users experiencing skin irritation.

Allow adequate budget

Inadequate funding of marketing activities during launch phase could sink a project fast. Marketing dollars must be part of the project return on investment calculation from the beginning of the project. Map out the budget of your entire business to determine how much you can spend on marketing. Research the best ways to reach your target market so you don’t end up wasting valuable marketing dollars. Once your product succeeds, set aside a portion of the profits for your next product launch.

Realistic forecasts

New product launches almost never attain sales forecasts. Unfortunately, a large number of new product projects would not receive the green light if sales forecasts were more realistic. Sales forecasts for new and innovative products are more likely to be unrealistic since they can’t be based on past performance. To get as close as possible to the actual sales potential, look at the number of consumers in the target market, percentage expected to buy the product, anticipated timing of purchase and patterns of repeat purchases.

What are your best practices for product launch success? Do you have examples to share with us? The Triode team would like to hear your success stories!

Patrick Sirois

At Triode, we specialize in developing new products and services for complex industries like medical devices and transportation. We work with you closely to help define product strategy, with an emphasis on reducing the risks associated with innovating in these sophisticated and often regulated consumer-oriented environments.

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Wednesday 1 December 2021


When a business finally reaches some growth, it’s important to consider one aspect that is not talked about enough regarding innovation – flexibility and adaptability.

What organizations need to take into this new period of growth is the need to be adaptable and to increase the focus on agility, so as to be able to execute change better and get new products and services to market faster.

To keep pace, businesses need to embrace the value of adaptability. In a world in which one picture, one thought, one tweet can go viral in a few minutes, the only certainty is that there is no permanence – which may be why only 18% of executives believe their existing innovation strategy is delivering a competitive advantage!

For many, innovation is a “new priority,” but innovation has been a part of the organizational DNA of companies like GE, P&G or Nike for many years. AG Lafley, President and CEO at P&G is well known for his appreciation of design and design thinking. As he says:

“We want to become the number one consumer design company in the world, so we need to be able to make it part of our strategy. We need to make it part of our innovation process.”

Jeff Immelt, CEO of General Electric understands this as well:

“When I got the job, I knew I wanted the company to be more innovative, more global, and more focused on the customers. But it does take a year or two or three to really put ideas into initiatives and get the team aligned. The big difference is that business leaders have no choices here. Nobody is allowed not to play. Nobody can say, ‘I’m going to sit this one out.’ That’s the way you drive change.”

Take Nike for example. With a worldwide name and some of the biggest sports stars on the planet as brand ambassadors it is easy to think that Nike will be around forever. And yet Nike operates in a marketplace in which fashion and brand identity are the market drivers and the fickle finger of market trend could swing away from the company at any time. Nike counters this threat with an awareness of the need for continuous innovation, agility and fast product-to-market times. Speaking in 2013, Nike CEO, Mark Parker, considered by many as the world’s most creative CEO said, “One of my fears is being this big, slow, constipated, bureaucratic company that’s happy with its success,” adding, “Companies fall apart when their model is so successful that it stifles thinking that challenges it.”

As a result, Nike innovates and responds to trends by incorporating sustainability into its model and by not only keeping an eye on future movements in the marketplace but in playing a leading role in establishing those trends. With ideals including “it is our nature to innovate” and “evolve immediately,” the Nike innovation culture encompasses every employee.

Mark Parker’s fears are unfortunately all too real barriers for many organizations, with 59% citing bureaucracy and 46% claiming their organizational structure as a main barrier to ideas making it to fruition. (That figure rises to 87% in the banking industry!) This goes some way toward explaining why only 28% executives are happy with their companies’ ability to commercialize and launch new products, services and experiences and the consistency of their innovation performance.

In fact, the perception that low innovation is a result of a lack of ideas is far from the truth. The reality is that “lack of ideas” isn’t even in the top three obstacles to innovation. 78% of executives cite challenges around building business cases and 81% say the real challenge is executing and implementing the ideas that have been chosen for development.

But what does that mean for the customer? Quite simply, the more the company embraces adaptability, the more the customer benefits. We may not all go as far as Nike, which believes that “if you have a body, you are an athlete,” but this focus on providing outstanding products alongside outstanding levels of service and experience is one which all businesses can learn from. In a homogenous world, it is the little touches, the attention to detail, the customer care, the response to market trends and the attention to innovation which results in exceptional levels of customer service which feed directly into relevance, longevity and enhanced business performance.

In common with other “next generation” organizations, Nike understands that the world has changed, and to survive in the future you have to create the future. For some this will come easily, but for others it may require a complete transformation in culture, attitudes and practices in order to increase the ability to react, change direction and get things to market faster.

On average, UK corporations take just as long to innovate now as they did in 2009. But, the world we operate in has increased in pace, so in real terms for most organizations, innovation has actually slowed down! However, there seem to be a small unique band of organizations that do it fast. 3% of UK companies are able to get ideas to market in less than six months and it’s not what they are doing that’s any different, it’s how they are doing it! They are using design thinking and design processes to make things happen faster, to co-create, test and prototype faster and more cost effectively than the other 97% of companies.

The design process is a great tool for organizations to embrace in order to build this capability as it creates a pragmatic, staged framework, providing method to a process that can too often be overcomplicated and hampered by company structure and red tape.

Patrick Sirois

At Triode, we specialize in developing new products and services for complex industries like medical devices and transportation. We work with you closely to help define product strategy, with an emphasis on reducing the risks associated with innovating in these sophisticated and often regulated consumer-oriented environments.

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Wednesday 1 December 2021

Developing a new product is no easy task, but once you have overcome that hurdle, it’s time for the next challenge – an effective product launch. When a product launch succeeds it provides early revenue, a competitive edge and a foundation for future marketing activities. On the other hand, a product may never recover from a failed launch and your entire investment will have been wasted. To ensure that doesn’t happen to your company, take note of these common mistakes you really want to avoid:

  1. Not planning enough in advance – Although some companies have managed to pull off a product launch in a few weeks, this kind of tight schedule causes stress, miscommunication and poor execution. A properly planned product launch takes about four months, so your company can put all of its ducks in a row, including messaging, positioning, pricing and PR activities.
  2. Forgetting to plan a sustainable marketing plan – A launch event can be a great start to a marketing campaign, but it cannot hold the momentum if marketing is cut off after the event. Businesses tend to put so much effort into their launch event that they forget that the initial excitement will quickly wane unless they continue to nurture the product and keep it in the public eye.
  3. Launching before the product is fully ready – Many products can be improved over time (technology products in particular), so businesses are lured into thinking they can launch before the product is ready and just keep working on it. The problem with this thinking is that once customers try the product and are not satisfied they will not return no matter how many times you tell them you have improved it.
  4. Not investing enough in the launch – Your product may be amazing but that doesn’t mean it will sell itself. Do ROI (return on investment) research to determine how much you should be spending and don’t sell your product short.
  5. Overestimating results – The average customer needs to be exposed to a product multiple times until he takes action. Don’t assume you only need to reach each potential customer once.
  6. Convincing customers to buy from the competition – Make sure you have enough products available for purchase at launch time, or your customers will go looking for a similar product. Your marketing should focus on what makes your product unique, so that pricing or availability is not the main factor in your customers’ decision making process.
  7. Announcing the launch too early – Companies often announce too early because they are excited, think they will be ready for launch earlier than they actually are or are scared the competition will get an edge on them. But if you announce too long before launch time, the excitement and momentum will be lost by the time you actually launch the product.
  8. Ignoring product reviews – Product reviews can make or break a product. If you wait until there are negative reviews and react to them, it is probably already too late. Instead, you need to work on getting positive reviews that will overshadow the negative ones.
  9. Not letting your partners in on the launch early enough – Despite the risk of information leaking out, you need to let partners such as press and analysts know what you are up to early in the process. They need enough time to prepare to help you get the word out.
  10. Forgetting to market internationally – International revenue may be significant for a new product. It’s more cost-effective and efficient to plan marketing materials with the international customer in mind, instead of having to create a second version of them after the product has launched.

A product launch is too important to be embarked on without a lot of forethought. Plan a few months in advance so you have plenty of time to implement all the various parts of the launch including financial investment, cooperation with partners and a sustainable plan which will keep the momentum going for a long time after the initial launch.

You may have experienced other mistakes during your product launch. Feel free to contact us to discuss lessons you have learned!

Patrick Sirois

At Triode, we specialize in developing new products and services for complex industries like medical devices and transportation. We work with you closely to help define product strategy, with an emphasis on reducing the risks associated with innovating in these sophisticated and often regulated consumer-oriented environments.

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Wednesday 1 December 2021

Technologies which were created with other industries in mind have also impacted the way medical devices are being designed and built. Twenty-first century technology is drastically changing how we manage our health as well as how healthcare is provided and managed. Here we take a look at nine of these technologies and how will they impact our lives in the coming decade:

Mobile apps

Mobile phones, tablets and disruptive technologies such as Google Glass allow physicians to see all pertinent information in real time, for quick and accurate decision making. Doctors can receive medical images directly to their phones, allowing them to reach a diagnosis and start treatment much faster. For patients, mobile apps can be used to access medical records, communicate with healthcare providers without having to visit the clinic, monitor their health and control physical devices.

Point-of-care diagnostics

New electronic devices for diagnosing patients in the comfort of their own home may replace visits to the doctor in the near future. These devices will also significantly decrease the likelihood of diagnostic error (currently 10% of diagnoses in developed countries are incorrect). In developing countries, the devices could help patients who live far away from medical clinics receive the care they need without having to travel.

Medical device software

Medical devices are powered by user interfaces and active and remote monitoring software. As the software becomes more sophisticated, more advanced diagnostic devices are made possible. Continuous engineering, an enterprise capability that speeds the delivery of increasingly complex and connected products, is one of the ways in which software is developing and allowing for the production of improved medical devices.

Artificial intelligence

Supercomputers can analyze a tremendous amount of data, from personal data about a specific patient to general medical knowledge and information from patient interviews. These supercomputers can help train medical students, assist physicians in making a diagnosis and help manage treatment. A new diagnostic app based on artificial intelligence is now available to physicians and patients alike. In the future, individuals will have access to data such as their current symptoms, biometric data, environmental data and personal data (such as diet and activity level) and their entire genome.

Transmission of data via the internet

Medical devices are already transmitting data about patient care and information which helps monitor equipment and perform maintenance when necessary. Soon devices used at home will also send data, so that more patients can be monitored from home. Hospital devices will communicate their locations in order to cut down on time and save lives. Predictive analysis will help surgeons and prevent human error in the operating theater.

Wearable devices

Patients who need to monitor their health constantly, such as diabetics who have to check their blood sugar levels, will benefit greatly from new wearable technology. Instead of pricking their fingers a few times a day and getting random readings, they will get constant data from contact lenses which analyze their tear fluid. Other companies are developing similar devices which provide continuous information without forcing the patient to enter data manually.

3D printing

3D printing technology brings with it endless possibilities. It is already being used to print hearing aids, braces for teeth, back braces, casts and prosthetics. Scientists are experimenting with ways to print whole organs, which would eliminate the need to wait for an organ to become available for transplant. Although this technology is not here yet, it may not be as far away as we imagine: Organovo, a California-based research company, has succeeded in printing human liver tissue.

Brain-computer interfaces

Devices which allow people to control them with their minds are improving the quality of life for paraplegics and other disabled individuals. Brain-computer interfaces are expected to be useful in pain management and the treatment of debilitating diseases like Alzheimer’s.


Robots are already being used widely in the healthcare industry and their use is expected to increase in the coming years. Robots are used for certain menial jobs performed in hospitals, such as laundry pick-up and cleaning. They are also being used to operate and to perform functions such as scraping plaque from arteries. Exoskeletons are also a form of robotics. These external devices allow paraplegics to walk independently. Currently only available to army veterans, exoskeletons are expected to reach the consumer by 2015.

Triode team members are working on a daily basis with companies struggling with the changing technologies. We can help you to reduce their impact on your business.

Patrick Sirois

At Triode, we specialize in developing new products and services for complex industries like medical devices and transportation. We work with you closely to help define product strategy, with an emphasis on reducing the risks associated with innovating in these sophisticated and often regulated consumer-oriented environments.

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Wednesday 1 December 2021


One of the principles of design thinking is that you need to get employees from different departments, who serve various functions, sitting in a room together and working on solving problems. The natural instinct of employees is to look at a problem from the point of view of their job. So a graphic designer looks at the beauty of the design, an engineer looks at the technical features of the product and a sales rep looks at the price. But in order to make the customer happy, each member of the staff needs to step out of his narrow job and look at the big picture. When creating a product, the main goal must be to develop an item that customers will actually want to use.

Although this may seem like an obvious goal, if often gets lost in the organizational shuffle. Each functional group focuses on its own needs and the customer gets forgotten. In fact, when you put people from different groups in the same room, you are likely to be shocked at how little each group knows about what the other groups are doing. These fragmented functions lead to fragmented decisions which adversely affect the product strategy.

Fortunately, the design thinking process can change the way an organization functions, and bring the customer back into the forefront. At design thinking meetings, it soon becomes clear that certain staff members are more aware of the big picture, know which questions to ask and understand how they should work with other functional groups. These employees will lead the way for the entire staff to begin to think about the customer’s needs and wants.

Once employees shed their job descriptions and start thinking about the customer, they can shift their perspective from what the product should be or do to what the customer is trying to achieve. Asking what the customer’s motivation is and what success looks like for him, how he will interact with your product and how it will solve his problem are questions which lead to the development of a higher-quality product.

The first time you bring design thinking into your organization, it may take some time for staff to start thinking the way you want them to. But the initial investment is worthwhile, since you will soon identify the top players in customer-centric thinking and can create smaller groups to utilize techniques of design thinking in the future. And the more times you use these techniques, the more they will be absorbed into your company culture. Eventually, customer-centric thinking will become the norm instead of a newfangled idea.

The added value to bring design thinking into your organization is to avoid that new products remain on the selves.

Patrick Sirois

At Triode, we specialize in developing new products and services for complex industries like medical devices and transportation. We work with you closely to help define product strategy, with an emphasis on reducing the risks associated with innovating in these sophisticated and often regulated consumer-oriented environments.

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Wednesday 1 December 2021

Increased globalization and technological change are leading the global healthcare industry away from the old physician-based system to one in which the customer is at the center. Customer service has become central to all businesses, and healthcare is no exception. Patients can’t choose whether to get sick but they do generally have control over which doctors they see and which hospitals they trust. Healthcare providers must cater to the empowered customer in order to remain competitive.

There are six major transitions which the healthcare industry is facing:

From one size fits all to individualized

Instead of sweeping rules, healthcare will start to look at the individual and provide him with a plan which fits his circumstances. Screening for diseases will be stratified, instead of across-the-board for certain ages or ethnicities. Each patient will get a course of treatment based on his unique issues, regardless of generalities and rules.

From institution-centered to de-physicalized

Medical care will no longer be available only by visiting a health clinic or hospital. A patient will be able to receive at least part of his care from the privacy of his own home. Consultations via smartphone and tablets will replace the physical visit in many cases. Prescriptions will be written and renewed electronically as well.

From physician-centered to disintermediated

Physicians will no longer be the sole decision-makers, so they will not hold all the power in their hands. Other medical personnel such as nurses and physical therapists will collaborate with the physician to find the best possible solution for each patient.

From paternalistic to empowered

Choices will no longer be dictated to the patient by his physician. Instead, the physician will assist the patient in making a decision about his health by laying out the alternatives and the possible outcomes of each option. Ultimately, the decision will rest in the hands of the patient. An “empowered customer” will take ownership over his health and consequently be more likely to follow the instructions of his physician.

From reactive to proactive

Healthcare will focus more on preventing diseases, instead of treating only symptoms. Laboratory testing, autonomic testing and genetic testing will all be used to catch diseases long before they manifest themselves in the body.

From volume-based to value-based

The current system for paying for healthcare is one where the patient pays per visit, per test etc. In the future, patients will pay for value instead, in the same way they pay for other services. The goal of this payment system is to encourage physicians to provide the best possible outcomes for their patients.

Patient empowerment is a process and it will likely take several years until all these changes are implemented. The healthcare system may be resistant to change, especially where limited resources must be stretched to accommodate empowerment. However, more empowered patients are healthier and will stay in the workforce and in society for longer, so patient empowerment is a positive goal for society at large.

Patrick Sirois

At Triode, we specialize in developing new products and services for complex industries like medical devices and transportation. We work with you closely to help define product strategy, with an emphasis on reducing the risks associated with innovating in these sophisticated and often regulated consumer-oriented environments.

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Wednesday 1 December 2021

For SMEs, project management can seem difficult, and financially speaking, very expensive.

Indeed, project managers are often seen as an expense rather than an investment by the organization’s top leadership. It must be said that a lot of project management experts and consultants like to make things complicated!

As an SME grows, the risks associated with poor execution increase, often exponentially.

Take the case of an SME that manufactures car parts and has a good handle on its processes. When everything was done in-house, process control was quite straightforward: a few follow-up meetings, several corridor discussions, and few but well communicated changes within the project team.

This SME is growing. The processes and the practices are stretched to the maximum and the good management of the projects rests on the shoulders of a few individuals who struggle to do their coordination work because they are so involved, as much as product or technical experts.

The result: projects that slip, costs that explode and project managers who are at the end of their rope!

With a minimum of effort, the company could separate the role of project management into two distinct roles: 1. The technical expert 2. The project manager.

The technical expert has a more short-term and detailed vision while the project manager has a longer-term vision, ensuring the performance of the project and the support of the project team.

The project manager is not an expense, it is an investment!

It is therefore essential to remember the importance of drafting processes as well as establishing forecasts to anticipate long-term needs in relation to project managers.

Adapt + empower

Project management being what it is, it has many tools as well as exhaustive and complex processes to put in place, which can scare SMEs.

In fact, project management should be adapted to the reality of the organization … not the other way around.

SMEs that place more value on project management fare better financially.

Why? Simply because they manage their risks better! The project manager should be the custodian of his projects. He must master them well… but not necessarily be responsible for all the deliverables. Roles and responsibilities must be clear and precise.

For example, after a few weeks of intervention with a client, it was found that the matrix of roles and responsibilities had a major gap: “Everyone” was responsible for “everything”. Result: no one is responsible for anything! No joke!

One of the symptoms of this situation: the participants in the different project meetings were pretty much the same… all the time. What a waste!

Clarifying roles and responsibilities in a project management process is therefore essential and makes it possible to optimize team meetings so that they are as effective as possible. Clarifying roles and responsibilities contributes to better project performance. If everyone knows what to do, there is less chance that a task will be forgotten or, even worse, performed twice!

Orient and prioritize

One of the success factors of project management in SMEs is the mobilization of the work team as well as the directives given by the principal(s).

Company management has a duty to mobilize teams around projects. That is, to prioritize projects, assign resources and clarify their expectations. On this point, the project manager has every advantage to press the management in order to clarify their expectations. A good question to ask is, “What will make this project judged successful in the end? ”

The establishment of a Steering Committee improves the performance of projects by creating a “forum” for discussing progress and bottlenecks. The steering committee therefore has a dual role:

  1. Ensure the progress of the project;
  2. Support the project team in the face of blockages encountered.

Unfortunately, the “steering committee” approach is poorly understood. Most of the time, this is simply a forum for the project manager to be held accountable. This committee, which usually meets once a month, is a powerful tool for both management and the project team … if used properly!

The key is then to understand that project management is done hand in hand between management and the agent, and that two-way communication is required to achieve objectives.

Change management

The words “change management” often causes concern among project managers in small and medium-sized enterprises.

Indeed, another point that stumbles in project management in SMEs is change management. We are talking here about changes in scope, where a client who requests small modifications (constantly!) here and there in the project and do not take the time to assess the impacts (budget, schedule or scope).

Any additional request in a project will have an effect on the time, cost or quality of the project. For example, the customer asks to add a small function. This will likely require programming, testing, or validation. Not to mention the impacts on the drawings, the list of components, the technical documentation, etc. A simple change can have a significant impact on the risks associated with the project. As soon as a project manager “accepts” the change, he becomes responsible for delivering!

Finally, the experienced project manager will make sure to “manage” his client well in order to temper his expectations and above all to report the impacts of the requested changes. Indeed, the impact of new requests must always be measured so as not to disrupt the smooth running of the project.

In conclusion

In conclusion, SMEs have every advantage to perform well in project management. Promoting our best technician or engineer to the position of project manager is not always a good idea! If the profile is not adequate, the individual may get caught up in the technical details and forget to go up the elevator!

SMEs that benefit from project management will quickly see benefits such as:

  • Better use of their resources (financial, material and human);
  • Better performance of completed projects;
  • Delivery on time;
  • Respect of the budget;
  • Respect of the schedule;
  • Better profit margins;
  • And finally, better risk management.

In short, the advantages are numerous.


Let’s take a few minutes to discuss:

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Wednesday 1 December 2021

Making a project turnaround is not a fun or easy task, but deploying a simple strategy will help the project manager rectify the situation such as:

  • Deliver what was promised (scope)
  • Deliver on time (schedule)
  • Deliver within the budget

Going through the next four steps will help the project manager get there.

1. Identification

The first step is to identify the problem. You can’t even consider trying to recover a project that is in trouble if you don’t know what the problem is in the first place.

While it may seem like a fairly simple problem to diagnose, it can be difficult to determine the exact cause that put the project at risk in the first place. Maybe requirements were not well defined enough, or maybe the time frame dictated by the client was too aggressive. Perhaps he keeps asking for changes (been there?)

Interviews with the project team and a thorough analysis of the situation will help you identify the problem and move forward. But be sure to determine the root cause of the problem.

Simply putting a band-aid on symptoms will not help at this stage.

2. Interviewing with empathy

Once you have identified the problem, it is time to discuss it with stakeholders and determine the action plan to rectify the project.

It may not be an easy discussion if people you are talking to are part of the problem!  It is important, however, to have a frank conversation and keep the discussion focused on the problem, not the person. This is not a finger-pointing exercise!

The project manager should have all the information at his fingertips and be able to redo the history of why the project is in trouble. This discussion should lead to a solution that will bring the project back to its objectives. In many cases, it’s good timing to organize a brainstorm session with the project team to make sure they’re part of the solution.

3. Implementation

It’s now time to implement the solution that will correct the project.

The solution could be to change the timeline, update the project scope, or even make changes to the project team. The solution should be well documented and communicated to all stakeholders involved in the project recovery.

All stages of recovery must be carefully described and detailed. There should be no questions about what needs to be done and when it needs to happen in order to get the project back on track. Don’t hesitate to “over-communicate” at this stage.

This part of the turnaround process should be well thought out and approved by management and the client. In this way, the recovery can continue without further delay.

4. Recovery

Once the project is underway, the project manager and the timeline should communicate what is happening to get back on track.

Everything that happens in the turnaround must be part of the scope and timeline.

This is a great time to re-evaluate the entire project and determine if something needs to be updated or modified to make the project a success.

When recovering a troubled project, identify the problem, determine how to recover the situation, implement the team’s solutions and review the timeline. Working sequentially on these four steps should allow you to aim for a smooth landing.

Fixing a project is never easy or fun, but with a little discipline and team mobilization, you will get there!

Team Triode

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Empathy: a source of innovation

Wednesday 3 April 2024

Empathy enables us to feel other people’s emotions while being detached from the situation, which helps us to see things more clearly. Empathy is a useful concept for solving problems and imagining the most creative business ideas.

One approach we use at Triode is Design Thinking, where “Design Thinkers” try to understand who your customers are and what they want, in order to produce a product or service that is really useful to them.

For example, 20 years ago, it was common for social service experts to design programs they “thought were necessary” for the system, without necessarily validating the relevance of these programs. Unsurprisingly, it turned out that the programs didn’t correspond to the needs of the clientele, so they fell by the wayside. In the United States, Design Thinking (and empathy) is used to design programs that actually meet the needs of the population they serve.

doctor-empathyEmpathy is especially important when thinking about healthcare design. Medical services can be frightening and make patients anxious. So it’s imperative that understanding patients’ fears and needs underpins the design for medical devices, clinics, services and so on. Empathy is not just limited to customers (i.e. patients), but also serves medical staff, including doctors, nurses and medical secretaries. When their work is more harmonious, patients and the system as a whole benefit.

At Triode, empathy with others begins with the simplest of concepts: conversation. By discussing problems and needs with business leaders, employees from different departments, current and potential customers, all can, contribute to an understanding of what kind of product or service is really needed. The Mayo Clinic spoke with patients and doctors about the clinical experience and redesigned their examination rooms entirely, to include separate spaces for examinations and consultations.

Once the various needs have been described, the next step in Design Thinking is the product strategy, which aims to solve as many questions as possible with an innovative product or service. Once the objectives have been defined, it’s time to think of different concepts (ideation) and test them in order to evaluate them.

Empathy is crucial to any innovation process. It influences product strategy and enables more informed decisions to be made downstream in product or service development. In short, empathy greatly enhances the customer experience and leads to higher margins.

Patrick Sirois

At Triode we work closely with your team to help you define your product strategy, with a particular focus on reducing the risks associated with innovation in unique and often highly regulated environments.

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