We need education that focus on problem solving and innovation

In order for our global society to develop solutions to pressing problems in an increasingly technology-driven and constantly changing world, we need to re-train our workforce to do what machines can’t: to be enterprising, independent and strategic thinkers—to be purposeful creators.

These starts with changing the way students, especially the youngest ones, learn. And learning in the future has a lot to do with play.

Learning through play with “hands-on, minds-on” approaches is a powerful way forward. Play gives children space to dream, discover, improvise, and challenge convention. It’s crucial to social, emotional, cognitive and even physical development, helping them grow up “better adjusted, smarter and less stressed.”

However, today’s youngsters have a deficit of play. Where did play go? And can we get it back?

This was one of the topics of the LEGO Idea Conference that took place last April in Denmark. Hosted by the LEGO Foundation, the conference aimed at creating and being a part of “conversations and networks around re-defining play and re-imagining learning.” Speakers included leading voices in education, learning, and child development such as Tony Wagner. He talked about the importance of disciplined play in an innovation economy. The important message of his keynote was: “The capacity of being a creative problem solver is within the human being”. We, at Moebio, agree with Wagner’s words and our goal at Design Health Barcelona, our flagship program, is to create future leaders in healthcare innovation by guiding talented people beyond their boundaries, bringing their creativity and entrepreneurial mind out and providing them new knowledge and skills to succeed.

You can watch Wagner’s inspiring TED-style keynote in the following video. ¡Enjoy!

The shadows of the Design Thinking

Design thinking, also known as human-centered design, has been the hot topic as of late, at least among the forward-thinking tech and business scenes. Although the concept has been around for a while, and some of the basic premises have been traditionally known under different names (e.g., market research, R&D), design thinking has come into vogue because of its alternative problem-solving techniques to the scientific method and the popularization of the idea and its related lexicon by IDEO, an award-winning consultancy.

Design Thinking draws upon logic, imagination, intuition, and systemic reasoning, to explore possibilities of what could be, and to create desired outcomes that benefit the end user, i.e., the customer. A design mindset is not problem-focused, it is solution focused and action oriented. It involves both analysis and imagination.

When design principles are applied to strategy and innovation the success rate for innovation dramatically improves. It can be applied to products, services, processes, physical locations… anything that needs to be optimized for human interaction. However, design thinking it is not unerring. In the infographic below you will find four ways in which design thinking can go wrong!

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The scientist, the physician and the engineer

Today, business evolves at a rapid pace. Innovation is more critical than ever. Health care is not an exception. Over the last 60 years there have been significant advances in medicine and there is clearly an opportunity to do more… much more.

As health care has become more complex, developing the products and services we will be using tomorrow and identifying ways to do better what we do today requires a wide breath of knowledge, skills and abilities. Multidisciplinary teams offer a unique space for nurturing new ideas, enabling them to grow, mature and evolve until they are ready for patients.

Scientists, physicians and engineers, even designers, are the professions that are clearly involved in the Med Tech industry. Put them in a room all together and sparks will fly and compelling solutions to medical needs will emerge.  That is if the collaborators trust each other and understand their different approaches to problem solving.

Differences in how to formulate and solve problems of physicians, engineers and scientists can also lead to some conflict. It is no news that the absence of a common vocabulary between these three types of professionals makes more difficult to communicate productively.

Physicians are trained to process patient symptoms and then determine the most common diagnosis based on historical information. Engineers make natural collaborations with physicians due to greater similarities in their approach to problem solving, compared to scientists.  Both types of professionals start with existing solutions that they apply to problems.  But engineers go one step further by utilizing existing solutions technology as the starting point for further optimization and customization.

However, scientists and engineers try to breakdown a problem to find a solution that requires the least amount of modification of an existing technology. In contrast to both engineers and physicians, scientists focus on components that can lead to a root cause of a problem.  But because the solutions are not practical or available at current time, this causes physicians’ and engineers’ frustration.

Professionals have different thinking styles depending on the formal training they received. In the following video you can listen to Dan Azagury MD, surgeon at Hôpitaux Universitaires in Geneva and lecturer at Design Health Barcelona program, explaining his own experience doing medical innovation in multidisciplinary teams as a 2011-2012 fellow of Stanford Biodesign and how it lead to co-found Ciel Medical Inc.

 

You can also learn more about the different ways of thinking of scientists, engineers and physicians and how to take advantage of them to bring ideas to life, communicate better and foster health care innovation in the following article written by Dan Buckland at Harvard and MIT at MedGadget.