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Beyond The Obvious

A cliché, right?

Not really.

Well, it is definitely used frequently in today’s competitive world. But, its unwise usage stands as an impediment to its true meaning.

Maybe words or phrases such as innovation, out of the box, creativity, etc., strike your subconscious mind while reading the title. Our ever-magnanimous companion, Google’s first results page, shall arguably second your thought. A serendipitous navigation beyond the first page might introduce other related words that one is oblivious to: mostly.

I, too, thought it was all about creativity and out-of-the-box thinking, until, one fine day, my friend suffered a medical condition. Though a firm believer in the power of Google, I advised him against searching a medical symptom online and advocated going to a clinic to consult with a real doctor. The internet-bred doctor within me pinned the condition on work pressure and mental stress and my friend expectedly endorsed my thought. We were not imbeciles to embrace the idea of self-medication, though. So, we left it to the professionals to ascertain. I accompanied him to multiple clinics in the city and we discerned a pattern- a set of questions were asked frequently:

  1. Current job; daily routine

  2. Personal issues

  3. Diet

  4. Personal habits

  5. Past occurrences


This is similar to a traditional market survey that is conducted by firms to understand the issues and needs before introducing a new product / service. The doctors assimilated the available information and arrived at the problem-definition that, based on individual analysis, varied considerably. The proposed solution included tests and medicines for the thus-defined problem.

The clock ticked in time, but there was not enough improvement. The recommendations seemed ineffective. My friend, an unsatisfied client, had to look for other options.

He apprised me of his appointment with his family doctor, his trusted counselor, who just returned from a family vacation in Pondicherry.  We reached before time and waited patiently for our turn. What ensued next remains a refreshing episode even today. I witnessed the true strength of a trusted relationship; I must admit that I envied the fact that the doctor knew more about my closest friend than I did. He opened a file that read ‘Patient History’ and for the next 30 minutes or so, the doctor was absorbed in listening to the stories that were documented. My ears grew taller and more curious with each story, as they told me that I didn’t know my friend well enough. On the other side, my friend’s nervousness peaked as his trembling hands welcomed a piece of paper from the doctor. The paper listed guidelines and general instructions apart from medicines to be taken. With every line, my hands sensed the need to comfort my friend, but the doctor beat me to it. The doctor’s comforting smile and kind words manifested assurance and we left the clinic on a highly positive note, as is the case after every friendly discussion.

And yes, it worked! The solution did heal my friend and life happily took a positive turn for him.

The doctor did not come up with innovative medicines or creative ideas but still he did something that comes under the realm of ‘beyond the obvious’.

  1. He empathized;

  2. He assimilated the information and defined the problem accurately; and

  3. He suggested the best option considering the not-so-obvious factors.


These are nothing but important pillars of Design Thinking.

Have you ever heard of wrong treatment? Primarily, such an unfortunate event is a result of fallacious understanding of the root cause. Product failures or failed marketing strategies are no different. Any innovative product / service or any creative strategy that doesn’t cater to the true needs of the people is futile. Whereas, these things, when done right, prove to be the differentiator.

Implementing the idea is an art.

Design better, let us.

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