We sat down with our very own CEO Kai Worrell on the heels of a two-week ethnographic research study in India and China. During the Q+A, we asked Kai to discuss how curiosity influences his work and why he recently took a week off work to invest in a cardiac physiology and anatomy intensive course. Check out what he had to say:
How does curiosity influence your work at Worrell?
Kai: At Worrell, most of us feel a very strong desire to spend a lot of time in the field where products are used. One of the reasons people go into a design consultancy is because they want to spend their days discovering new things and having unusual experiences. Our projects are most commonly clinical in nature, and few things are more curious or complex than healthcare and human physiology.
I just returned from a two-week ethnographic research study in India and China. We felt we needed to go there and immerse ourselves in the hospitals to really have a deep appreciation for how they administer a particular therapy. We needed to learn all the things we should carefully consider when designing a product for emerging market conditions. We were confounded by what we saw in the public hospitals, especially in India. Our curiosity is driving us toward a better understanding, which we have to realize before we lock in on a design direction.
You recently attended a class on cardiac physiology and anatomy. Can you tell us more about your experience?
Kai: I have been curious about the cardiovascular system for as long as I can remember, and many of our projects at Worrell address cardiovascular disease. This class was essentially an A to Z on the human heart. The lecture portion of the course covered everything from basic cardiac function and EKG interpretation to anesthesia and interventional surgical techniques. We also visited Dr. Paul Iaizzo’s Visible Heart Lab, where we examined a swine’s heart on a bypass machine. Finally, we were put on teams, each with our own cadaver, where we carefully removed both the heart and lungs. We were afforded the rare opportunity to see what stents, pacemakers, blocked arteries, and oversized hearts actually look and feel like. I came away with a new appreciation for how devices and therapies are more than just the molecules, plastic and metal that they appear to be. You get a sense for what these things actually do inside your body, and how incredibly delicate we are. It was a life changing experience.
YWhat are some key takeaways from your field experiences?
Kai: My personal experiences in the field, including my participation in the recent heart lab class, have fueled my curiosity about the field of medicine. These experiences are also a prime example of the importance of hands-on learning, both in hospitals and in labs. I think when you pair this with all the patients and families we have gotten to know along the way, you feel pretty special that we actually get to design tangible things that make a difference. This is why we are so passionate to learn more about each new project area, and why we put so much effort into the products we design.