Innovation management: Appropriate measures prevent crises

  • Posted by Gerhard Pramhas
  • On 10. August 2017

Herzschrittmacher-Plutonium-Pramhas

Economics and health are two terms that we would not necessarily tie together, but there are a lot of analogies. Read more over here on how business economics and human health are connected and what we can learn from the history of the pacemaker!

Take reasonable measures

A small example of a comparison between people and companies: Your company is doing well – you don’t exactly know why, but you don’t see any reason to change anything. A healthy human behaves the same way. Why should you change your life if you do not suffer from anything? But if there are problems within your company, you will take measures and make decisions that could possibly further intensify your problems.

The pacemaker – good innovation, wrong decisions

This phenomenon took place in the 70s of the past century in the health sector:

Initial situation:

We recognized the need for pacemakers at the beginning of the 1950s. At that time, the first – non-implantable – pacemakers were developed and used. Since these devices were not extremely practical to use and only slightly increased the patient’s quality of life, the first implantable pacemakers were developed a few years later, in the late 1950s. Their only shortcoming: They had a short battery life. At the beginning, they only provided hearts with vital electrical impulses for a few hours at a time, then later for a few months. The batteries had to be replaced accordingly, and patients had to undergo surgery every time. As you can imagine, there was a high risk of complications.

The solution to the problem:

We started using pacemakers powered by a nuclear reactor – with plutonium. We simply ignored and pushed aside the fact that plutonium is one of the most toxic substances known to man.
In principle, the innovation was successful. If the pacemaker was implanted in a relatively young person, we could expect the device to last for an entire lifetime. The fact that the profitability of a device with such a high durability was not necessarily business-friendly was only mentioned in passing.
In the end, this technology failed for other reasons. On the one hand, the population was very negatively sensitized by the first nuclear accidents and catastrophes (1979 – Three Mile Island, USA; 1986 – Chernobyl, USSR), and on the other hand, there were concrete problems with the disposal of pacemakers. To this day, it has not yet been completely clarified how many patients in what country were buried with the small nuclear reactor implanted in them, or worse yet, cremated. From a purely technological standpoint, this development was a success at the time. However, it seems that nobody thought of the long-term consequences of the decision.

The correct approach makes the difference

How do you handle such difficult decisions in difficult times? Do you take advantage of every chance of economic success – regardless of potential negative consequences? To make sure that you don’t end up in this situation in the first place, it is crucial to make provisions during good times. Just like a healthy person must be aware of their own responsibility even when it is not yet necessary to seek intensive medical care, a company must prepare itself for small and major crises during times when everything goes well.

Proper innovation management and a “view from the outside” help to avoid operational blindness and prevent future use of “intensive” interventions. And I am happy to help you in these areas. Send me a contact request, and we will work together on avoiding larger cuts.

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