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Rerelease 023 – Industrial design with child’s play

To put your customer first, you need to be able to see things from their perspective. Listen to hear how a 7-year-old girl prompted Doug Dietz to redesign his MRI machine.

MRI machine

This week, we’re taking a walk down memory lane and revisiting (and re-releasing) an earlier episode of Anecdotally Speaking! In episode 023, Mark shares an industrial design story, which you’ll find particularly useful if you’re involved in product, process or service design. 

The story follows Doug Dietz, who spent years designing a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) machine. When he finally went to see his machine in action on-site, he was shocked by what he saw, despite it functioning perfectly. 

Shawn mentions now Anecdote team member Mike Adams’ book, Seven Stories Every Salesperson Must Tell, which he was still working on at the time of recording. 

Doug Dietz has given a TEDx talk about his MRI machine. If you’re interested, you can find it here.

For your storybank

Tags: design, feedback, shifting perspectives, user experience

This story starts at 02:30

A few years ago, Doug Dietz, an Industrial Designer, was working for GE Healthcare. He had a major role in designing their new MRI machine, which he and his team worked on over many years.

Once the machine was in a hospital, Doug went to see it in action. It worked perfectly.

Then in walked a 7-year-old girl—the next patient. She was crying, distraught and terrified of what was about to happen. Her parents were desperately soothing her and encouraging her to be brave.

Doug knelt to the young girl’s height and looked around the room, just as he had earlier, brimming with pride. But this time, he viewed it very differently.

He saw a big sign on the door that yelled, ‘DANGER,’ and black and red tape that marked out pathways but made the room look like an accident zone.

He saw a room with grey walls and a concrete floor that was cold, dark and foreboding. The machine made a constant humming noise and, for a 7-year-old, it was terrifying.

As the girl got closer to the machine, she became more upset. A physician was called to sedate her. Doug was shocked and decided to do more research.

Doug discovered that some 80 per cent of children were sedated before going into MRI machines, and customer experience feedback was very poor, regardless of functionality.

Looking at the experience from a child’s perspective, he decided to transform it into an adventure.

He and his team redesigned the machine to make it look like a canoe. They had a waterfall painted onto the wall beside it. Young patients were told to remain as still as possible so they wouldn’t fall into the water.

They cleaned the machine with products that gave it a lavender scent rather than standard disinfectants. The changes were subtle but important.

After the redesigned machines were installed, the number of sedated children went down from 80 per cent to less than one per cent in some hospitals. Customer satisfaction went up by about 92 per cent. Hospitals saved resources, and each patient got through the process faster.

About  Anecdote International

Anecdote International is a global training and consulting company, specialising in utilising storytelling to bring humanity back to the workforce. Anecdote is now unique in having a global network of over 60 partners in 28 countries, with their learning programs translated into 11 languages, and customers who incorporate these programs into their leadership and sales enablement activities.

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