Week 8 – It’s the Little Things
Hope all is going well. Hard to believe two weeks have flown by already. We’ve had some big news during this time as you might have already heard. We are excited to have Ben Dunn and John Brooks III join our business advisory board. Their belief in the company and the direction we are steering the ship (homage to Week 6 blog) is inspiring. As we go through the daily grind, you can sometimes lose sight of the fact that we are doing some really cool stuff here. When people like Ben and John see the benefit of what we are doing and want to help out to make it succeed, that makes it even more powerful. We are going to continue to add more people to the team, both on the business and science advisory sides as well as to the core teams within the company, to make sure our technology has the best chance to help people whether as a medical device, a scaffold for benchtop testing, or as a delivery vehicle for consumer products. We have a lot to do to get to this point and know we’ll have to ride the “entrepreneur rollercoaster” for as long as we can take it, but we believe that it is worth the effort.
While bringing on advisors and other such areas are big, visual events, there are so many little things that happen that really lead up to the big things. This theme reminded me of late John Wooden, who is shown in this week’s blog picture. For those of you not familiar with Mr. Wooden, he was an outstanding basketball player and coach. As head coach at UCLA, his teams won ten National Collegiate Athletic Association national championships in a 12-year period, including a record seven in a row. He is quoted as saying “It’s the little details that are vital. Little things make big things happen.” Now this saying is a double-edged sword. On one hand, it could be construed as if you do little things right, bigger good things can happen. However, it can be the opposite in that if you don’t take care or notice small details or changes, bigger issues/problems can occur. I am focus on the latter meaning, and not because I am a negative person. In science, very small changes can make a big difference and if you do not notice these, you may never understand what happened.
The power of observation and paying attention to detail is critical for success in our space. Over the past month or so there have been a couple of times during product development where this was evident. One example is work that we are doing with a global cosmetic company to develop a prototype for a new product. Everything had been working great. After we had developed and produced several samples of the product prototype, the company decided that they wanted us to use a specific packaging process which we had not used before. Packaging plastic was the same, only the process changed. We packaged each prototype up and shipped them off. Luckily, the company decided to test them before sending them to their headquarters. That one small packaging deviation changed how the product transferred onto the skin. We were able to trace it back to just that one small change, which wasn’t even related to our Bio-Spun™ material. Science requires you to be able to look at any deviation and fortunately for them (and us), we were able to catch this. It could have resulted in so much more additional work had we not really tracked each step. Being able to fix this issue will turn the negative connotation of the phrase to a positive.
Another instance where a small detail could change a possible outcome was related to a medical device that we are developing with a partner. We noticed that when we were applying our Bio-Spun™ material onto their existing product, it was not coating consistently. We also noticed that the design of the material had an effect on this coating process. We were able to track the inconsistency back to one small area in the process. Once we understood this better, we were able to see consistently made coatings of our material. A small detail that could have resulted in a big problem, but making that correction may now allow this to become a big positive outcome. As John Wooden would say, “Success is never final, failure is never fatal, and it's courage that counts.” Great words to live by.
Even something like discovering a new procedure or process can occur by paying attention to the little details. I remember many years ago running an experiment in the lab. I set up what I thought were proper controls (a control is a test that you run where you know the outcome so when you make a change and try to see if a change did occur, you can compare it to the control – for example – if you are making a new medicine to cure a headache, you would use a standard medicine like Tylenol to compare to). I realized that, through paying attention to the small details, that the control process actually changed the material. I could not believe it so I repeated the experiment again and got the same result. This led to receiving a U.S. patent about a new process to make materials with specific chemical groups on them. Paying attention to the small details led to something bigger. So many things like discovery of penicillin, radiation and the telephone were done by paying attention to the little things. We look to keep going down this path.
For our friends of the Jewish faith, Chag Pesach Sameach (Happy Passover Holiday)! For our friends of the Christian faith, Happy Easter! Please make sure to check out #FactualFriday on April 22nd and we’ll see you back here on April 29th.