Shakespeare On Adding Value

Like many before me, I too sometimes feel the need to invoke the Bard for inspiration.  As some readers may know, I believe in the importance of integrating the liberal arts into unrelated disciplines including entrepreneurship (e.g., Caesar’s Guide for Innovators). In this vein, I suggest that Shakespeare’s technique of layering multiple meanings in the same word or phrase is analogous to the development of successful 21st century medical devices.


Shakespeare was famous for the use of puns and double entendres throughout his career. This often enabled him to distill a triple cocktail of meanings while simultaneously making a witticism. In entrepreneurial circles, we would call this adding value. He’s literally getting more bangs for the verbal buck.

The same layering of value is mandatory now for medical devices. In my experience, there must be at least three compelling value propositions interwoven into most new medical products to be successful:

  • Novel and useful functionality– Obviously, IP-protected technology that solves a problem is essential, the bigger the problem, the better.
  • Cost-effectiveness– In terms of funding our unsustainable healthcare system, the Bard’s line about this being the “winter of our discontent” rings true. Device makers need to offer solutions that actually do something useful and save money.
  • Smooth integration into workflow-Removing friction through thoughtful ergonomics and seamless interoperability are now expectations sought after by most end-users.

Additionally, for the product to be commercially viable there must be all the usual prerequisites including a well-defined market with plenty of paying customers, adequate distribution channels, marketing, sufficient capital, regulatory approval etc. . . .

My newest licensed product, a surgical kit, attempts to capture these key value elements. It remains to be seen if surgeons will adopt this new system as it just became available last month. At the very least, we’ve got a triple shot of value for our customers to consider as they make budgeting decisions for 2013.