2 kids are playing.
They’ve a long piece of wood and a pin.
They take turns putting an end of the piece of wood to their ear while the other kid scratches the other end of the piece of wood with a pin. The sound of the pin scratching one end is amplified at the other end – to the kids’ delight.
This scene is witnessed by a young doctor as he walks briskly on a cool morning through the courtyard of the Louvre Palace in Paris.
A couple of months later the same doctor is trying to figure out what’s wrong with a young woman whom he believes may have heart disease. He wants to make a diagnosis but hasn’t yet managed to. So he decides he wants to listen to her heart.
However there’s a problem. He’s embarrassed at the prospect of putting his ear to her chest.
He remembers the kids and their wooden toy.
The result? The young doctor invents the stethoscope.
It was a huge advance in medicine. As sociologist Trevor Pinch says, “it was one of the first ways of getting a diagnosis on a patient independent of their own version of what was happening“. Before the stethoscope came along doctors couldn’t get a view of what was going on inside a body unless it was dead.
What has this got to do with your business? Well the lesson for us is in a small piece of what Trevor Pinch said – “independent of their own version“.
A lot of business owners have no stethoscope – no way of knowing accurately what’s happening in the hearts & minds of their customers or employees.
The effect? Potential problems are missed. Actual problems are missed. Opportunities are missed.
So – what part of your business are you wondering about the most?
Your action? Get yourself a “stethoscope”!
PS: That young doctor? René Laennec. He only lived another 10 years after his invention – one of the pioneers of chest medicine ironically dying of tuberculosis in 1826.
PPS: Credit to the Science Museum, London for use of the photo of one of his actual stethoscopes.
If you’d like to receive posts like this as emails, just sign up in the box below. I blog infrequently – whereas I email my list more frequently. Sign up to avoid missing out!