A while back, I received a pre release copy of Erich Joachimsthaler's Hidden in Plain Sight. I've finished the book and was quite impressed. Joachimsthaler's key concept is, "innovating across behaviors of customers and creating transformative experiences." While this is just a fancy way to talk about how to better meet market requirements, this simply stated objective is deceptively difficult to realize. The biggest barrier, that this book hits head on, is that we tend to look at the outside world (our customers) through mental filters based on assumptions and our own world view. The book presents a detailed method for avoiding those mental filters and seeing customer requirements in a direct and more objective way.

In a world where "innovation" is mentioned frequently, the book includes numerous examples of once innovative companies that have lost their way. Companies like Sony and the WalkMan, and Block Buster who's been laid low by Netflix, are described as examples of companies where innovation was stunted. Common causes for this sub par innovation sited by Joachimsthaler include the effects of conventional organizational structures (siloed divisions organized by market segment) that fragment a company's view of the customer, or a decision to, "limit the company's outlook under the guise of retaining intrinsic knowledge and value or sticking to one's knitting," or not looking past the obvious "customer's needs and wants."

Hidden in Plain Sight presents a "demand first" approach that describes how to conceive products and services that are really innovative, that overlay consumer behavior in a way transforms the customer experience into something special - and frequently incorporates built-in competitive barriers. The market forces driving medical device connectivity fit nicely with Joachimsthaler's book - in fact, one of the case studies is GE Healthcare's Carestation for surgery. The Carestation case study provides a good template for connectivity projects, although the result is rather conventional. Other case studies better demonstrate Joachimsthaler's principles, and yield more innovative solutions.

Fundamentally, medical device connectivity is the process of looking beyond customer needs served by the standalone embedded system. So while a device must acquire accurate data and return clinically significant values, connectivity looks beyond the operation of the device to encompass the delivery of care surrounding the patient and device - sometimes extending far beyond the device. The point of care market is ripe for the kind of transformative solutions that Hidden in Plain Sight talks about.

As an added bonus, the book describes many fascinating guerrilla marketing techniques that fit nicely with Joachimsthaler's marketing approach.

Thanks to Michelle Morgan of Harvard Business School Publishing for providing me with a copy of the book.