In 1989, a group approached what was a then relatively new design company, about the various troubles many, within their customer base, were experiencing with onset of arthritis.
The design company, Smart Designs, was less than 10 years old at the time, but it's founders had already burnished reputations as people that "think outside the box."
Smart Design visited hospitals and doctors' offices across the country to observe arthritic people and watch what frustrated them the most. After much observation, they moved to the interview phase and found what they had learned through observation to be "poppycock."
While conventional wisdom of the time said suffers of arthritis are frustrated by getting around, the real anger for those suffers flared at their inability to "grab things."
It was uncomfortable and difficult to:
- Grab a walker to assist in walking.
- Grab a railing to go up stairs.
- Grab a wheel to drive.
- Grab the basic utensils and tools one needs in a daily routine.
The pain of bending knee and hip-joints was very real...unbelievably real. But frustration, that came from the inability to grab, or hold onto once you did, the things that surrounded them.
Smart Design went to work. Within three months they created a non-slip handle for walk-assisting devices. The handle was much easier on the hand and did not hurt when the full weight of the patient bared down on them. They had solved a complex problem in short order and were just about ready for the congratulatory lap around the stadium, to the warm applause of a thankful audience.
But a question in the closing meeting with the client changed everything. Someone had the audacity to ask, "Why Stop There?"
After very little debate, the challenge was accepted...provided the client would continue to fund the research and would be interested in distributing the finished products.
All parties agreed and every person in the Smart Design firm was placed on this one project. The sole purpose of which was, to improve the everyday lives of people suffering from arthritis.
They were told to go home and try to function each day with "your hands in a claw, unable to squeeze (like making a "c")." See what problems arise and come back to work each morning with thoughts and solutions you may have found.
Within 9 months, they were ready to share their findings with their client company. And, perhaps more importantly, introduce a few products they thought "might interest the arthritic community."
Smart Designs client was a company called OXO International, and the product they developed became "GOOD GRIPS," the most award-winning line of housewares products in the history of the industry.
Additionally, the product line is so revolutionary in it's functionality, it has escaped the medical realm and now boasts millions of perfectly healthy evangelists around the world...including the author of this article.
Let's Innovate, America!
View more of the amazing Good Grips line of products HERE