Where Science Meets Muse

Posts Tagged ‘human behavior’

What Healthcare Providers Can Learn From This Taco Bell

Posted by Plish on May 17, 2014

The Best Taco Bell For Medical Procedures


There’s a Taco Bell that I’ve been stopping by for a quick taco or two.  I would stop there to get medical tests if I could.

??? What???

You see, every time I’ve visited and someone at the register needed to go and help on the food assembly line, that person has done something amazing.

Well, at least it’s (unfortunately) amazing by healthcare standards.

The person washes her hands.

I’m not talking the typical ‘bathroom’ wash that you see most people do.  You’ve seen it, it goes like this:

  1. Turn on the water
  2. Use a little soap if around
  3. Wash for about 5 seconds, maybe 10
  4. Shut the water off (if it’s not automatic)
  5. Shake the hands and grab a paper towel to dry(maybe)
  6. Leave

In fact, researchers have found that only about 5 percent of people wash their hands properly.

But, these folks at this Taco Bell are amazing.  They wash the way hands are supposed to be washed, which I must say, I usually don’t see consistently happening in healthcare facilities. (I’ve even seen healthcare workers skip the easier anti-microbial hand sanitizer squirt!)

The Taco Bell folks do the following:

I actually counted to see how long these people wash and rinse and they’re following best practices.    It also doesn’t matter if they’re busy or slow.  I’ve seen workers take the time to wash (and follow with an antimicrobial squirt) no matter how crazy the atmosphere or how long the lines.

This is a TACO BELL people!

Customers are there for their food and they want it quick.   Employees could easily pull a line that’s often heard in healthcare hand-washing studies: “I don’t have time to wash.” But, these conscientious workers have made it a part of their culture to make sure they wash their hands.

What’s even more important is that if employees are taking the time to wash, they certainly are doing other things right as well.

Congrats Taco Bell on Grand!  Keep up the good work!

For all the healthcare facilities out there, it might be worth doing some self-examination and asking, “Why can Taco Bell do it and we can’t?”

If you can’t find the answer, pay Taco Bell a visit and watch.





Posted in Case Studies, Customer Focus, Design, Health Concerns, Healthcare, problem solving | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Building Empathy on the Road to Innovation (and a Better World)

Posted by Plish on October 5, 2012

While the woman on the table braced herself for the extremely invasive transvaginal ultrasound, the technician tried to calm her:

“You know, when I was in school, they had us go through this exact same procedure so that we can understand what you’re feeling while you’re going through this.”

The woman smiled slightly, relaxed, and thought to herself, “At least this won’t be as bad as it could be…”

And it wasn’t…

Empathy goes a long way towards impacting how we behave with others, how we design products and services for others.  Sometimes, as with the ultrasound technician, a shared experience forms the empathic response.  However, we can likewise gain empathy by observing how others respond to certain situations – by reading people: looking at their faces, listening to their voices, watching how they fidget or stand still.

While responding to others’ expressions is somewhat ‘automatic’, the accuracy of our empathic responses can actually be improved.

Researchers at Emory University have developed a meditation protocol (Cognitively-Based Compassion Training, or CBCT) that trains people to be more effective in reading what others are feeling.

Study Co-author, Lobsang Tenzin Negi, director of the Emory-Tibet Partnership, had this to say:

“CBCT aims to condition one’s mind to recognize how we are all inter-dependent, and that everybody desires to be happy and free from suffering at a deep level.”

Build empathy and build a better world.

Sounds like mandatory training, not just for innovators, but for all humans…


Posted in Behavioral Science, Case Studies, cognitive studies, culture of innovation, Customer Focus, Design, Emotions, innovation, Innovation Tools, meditation, Research, Science, The Human Person, Wellness | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

When a Design Gets Ignored – Lessons From a Parking Lot

Posted by Plish on February 3, 2012

Went to the Post Office today and saw the above scenario and had to take a picture. (I roughed in a map of what the parking lot looks like.  Green arrows represent the designed travel path. The X’s denote cars oriented as seen in the picture.  I parked by the lone car along the entrance to the P.O.)

Despite the best efforts of planners to create a smooth flow to the traffic pattern in this lot, when the opportunity presented itself, everybody took the ‘easy’ path (which was, no doubt, started by one individual) and the people pulled through the ‘design intended’ slots, and into the next, enabling them, hopefully, to pull directly out, albeit awkwardly, without having to back-up.

I think we’ve all done what the above people did.   In a moment, we decide to park ‘wrong’ but we’re happy with what we’ve done because we think we’re getting a two-fer: Easy in – Easy out.

The reality is bit more complicated. In order to get out easily we need:

  • No one parking across the spot from us
  • No one parking behind us
  • No one parking too close to us
  • No one leaving at the same time
  • No one driving down the roadway the ‘right way’, looking for a parking space.

If any of the above occur, our path out is hardly easier than it would’ve been had we parked properly.

The lessons from the above are myriad, but the one that stands out is this:

If a design enables someone to do a task more easily in the present, with a perceived benefit in the future, that person will do the task the easier way, despite gentle reminders to the contrary.

The corollaries to prevent the above are the following:

  • Make it more difficult to do the task (concrete parking chocks would do nicely, but frankly, I don’t like them)
  • Eliminate the perception of future benefit (signs showing chaos if people park wrong, signs threatening ticketing, etc.)
  • If the preferred way of parking is more elegant, redesign! (This really could be done on this lot. Seriously, will anyone ever park in those spaces on the right side of the lot??)

The above scenario is a cautionary tale that highlights the importance of prototyping and experimenting to learn how your product will be used.  Testing needs to go deeper than just confirming that people can follow instructions and that people use your product as you expected.

You really learn about your product, and what people’s needs are, when you allow them the freedom to interpret the product and its use context, on their terms.

“But nobody followed the rules! They didn’t respect the traffic flow and slant of the parking spaces!”



Posted in Behavioral Science, Customer Focus, Design, Emotions, innovation, problem solving | Tagged: , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Walking Backwards to a Solution

Posted by Plish on August 14, 2009

Dutch researchers found walking backwards may help with problem solving.

Posted in Biology, cognitive studies, Creative Thinking Techniques, creativity, Creativity Videos, Evolution, idea generation, innovation, nature, Nature of Creativity, problem solving, Research, The Human Person | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

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