Trilogy Tidings
May 2007
in this issue
     I've been involved in the creation and commercialization of new products for as long as I can remember, and I remain fascinated by the innovation process and its results.  The 2007 Medical Design Excellence Awards tendered by Canon Communications attracted my attention most recently.  You might also find their selections of interest, and you might share my enthusiasm for achieving innovation to drive business growth.  So, I share my own new-product award choices and some perspectives on innovation here.
Worthy Design Excellence Awards 

     The MDEA winners can be found in the April 2007 issue of Medical Device & Diagnostic Industry (MD&DI), and the article is reproduced hereI paid particular attention to the winning new products that, according to Canon, "just may change the future of certain treatments".  Whether or not that turns out to be true in every instance, these potentially transformative products are the ones that interest me most - as a management consultant, engineer, consumer and patient.  My choices are described below; maybe you will agree; more likely you won't.  But it's instructive to think about this stuff.


Treating Untreatable Kids

About 3 in every 1,000 U.S. newborns suffer from moderate to severe hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy (HIE), which can cause severe neurological injury or death and which so far has been untreatable.  The Cool-Cap Neonatal Head-Cooling System (Olympic Medical, a unit of Natus Medical) aims to correct that.  It lowers brain (but not body) temperature to reduce neurological injury.  A quick response is vital, and this device is ready within 15 minutes, combining diagnosis and therapy.  Just as important, it's very easy to set up and use.  Doesn't seem like rocket science, but its sound engineering and extreme ease of use are compelling.


A Truly Noninvasive Thermometer

Perhaps an "obvious" idea.  But the developer (Kaz, Inc.) made this Vicks Forehead Thermometer work.  Based upon infrared illumination, it monitors the subcutaneous temperature of the temporal artery.  It's reportedly very comfortable for use in children, and its LCD display is color-coded for normal/abnormal readings.  And, it's intuitive; a child's forehead is the obvious first choice for fever assessment.


Hematocrit by Ultrasound

Determining blood hematocrit (percent red-cell volume) is pretty standard stuff, so why do we need another method?  Well, the UltraCrit Hematocrit Measurement Device is quick (30 seconds), miniaturized, accurate, and uses little blood (1 drop).  Its developer (Separation Technology) took several years to perfect its low-energy ultrasound method.  It is too soon to know where it will find greatest use, but the successful development of this clever, new approach to a well-established medical need makes it for me.


Patient-Specific Tissue Ablation

There has not been a reliable way to remove tissue characterized as Barrett's esophagus, a precancerous state of esophageal tissue, until now.  The Halo360 Esophageal Tissue Ablation System (Barrx Medical, a unit of Stellartech Research) apparently does the job by ablating offending tissue to just the right depth.  This is achieved by first deploying a sizing balloon to measure the patient's anatomy, then deploying the appropriately sized ablation catheter and its bipolar radiofrequency electrode array.  The system thereby achieves a uniform circumferential ablation depth less than 1 millimeter.  Very neat!

Thoughts to share?  Contact me.
Practicing Strategic Innovation  

     I think we can all agree that "innovation" is, in some sense, important to all commercial enterprises - indeed perhaps to all enterprises.  In a November 1995 article (yes, it's still relevant) Bob Krinsky and Dan Kamas, then with IdeaScope Associates, postulated that "the key factor that separates successful companies from mediocre performers is the extent to which these organizations have a disciplined approach to the practice of innovation and identification of new business opportunities".  In other words, "successful companies are those that are dedicated to the practice and implementation of strategic innovation, the type of approach that yields quantum leaps into new markets, not incremental steps within existing industries".

     Krinsky and Kamas go on to point out that strategic innovation is the process of creating new industries, opening new markets, and inventing new categories.  They test your organization's commitment to strategic innovation with a series of questions reproduced here in six broad categories:


Industry Foresight

  • How sophisticated is management's understanding of its markets and industry?
  • Do the key players possess an in-depth understanding of what their future will look like; not only in the 3-5 year time frame, but 5-10 years into the future?
  • Does management share a corporate strategic vision that is compelling and competitively distinctive?

Customer Insight

  • How creative is your understanding of your customers?
  • Do you develop products and services around the articulated and unarticulated needs of customers?
  • Is the notion of "customer intimacy" built into all aspects of product development, R&D and marketing?

An Enabling Process

  • Is there a process in place to enable the organization to successfully practice strategic innovation?
  • Does your company commit dedicated resources to the practice of strategic innovation?

Future-Driven Culture

  • Is the culture of your organization directed toward the future?
  • Do managers think aggressively about how to build and embrace capabilities that they don't currently possess?
  • Does your organization support innovation at all levels of the organization?
  • Do managers aggressively challenge assumptions and boundaries of their current business?

Growth-Motivated Senior Management

  • Is your organization decentralized such that all senior managers are actively involved in the pursuit of strategic innovation and new business opportunities?
  • Do the careers of senior management show a history of strategic innovation and growth rather than paths of cost-cutting and restructuring?

Corporate Chameleons

  • Does your company have a proven ability to reinvent itself to meet the changing demands of markets and customers?
  • What percentage of current revenues are driven by products or services less than five years old?
  • Does your company have an explicit goal of achieving a specified percentage of future revenue growth from product lines that don't yet exist?

Food for thought, don't you think?  Perhaps you can nudge your company in a more favorable direction.  If not, perhaps you should try another company!

Thoughts to share?  Contact me.
What does Trilogy do? 
     Trilogy Associates facilitates business growth and renewal through commercialization of new products, providing the following services:
  • Opportunity assessment
  • Business planning and enterprise growth strategies
  • New-product conceptualization, commercialization and marketing
  • Market research and competitive assessment
  • Business development and partnering
  • Market and technological due diligence
  • Assessment of the therapeutic and diagnostic potential of novel technologies
  • Design of efficient and effective development strategies for early-stage biomedical products
  • Business and technical writing/publishing

     Inquiries to establish whether and how we might support your business initiatives are always welcome.  Contact us.

Contact Information
Joseph J. Kalinowski, Principal