At this year’s Market Connections Forum event, Dr. Nguyen – who has dedicated much of his career to inventing technologies that aid Australians living with disabilities – asserted the importance of assembling teams of different skills, voices and personalities to solve problems in business.
“I’ve found that my own perspective on reality and life has shifted and changed when I’ve worked with people who have different perspectives,” Dr. Nguyen told the audience of Australian telco leaders. “I think that helps me solve problems and work with teams better.”
When he was 21, Dr. Nguyen narrowly escaped breaking his neck after accidentally diving into the shallow end of a friend’s pool. After being advised to limit himself to bed-rest and restrict his movements, he began thinking about mobility in a different way.
“I got put to bed and couldn’t move,” he said. “But it made me start thinking so differently about life and the things I take for granted.”
This experience kick-started Dr. Nguyen’s passion for providing greater services for Australians living with debilitating disabilities.
“When you engage any sort of team for innovation, you get people who are going to see things that you don’t see, hear things that you don’t hear.” Dr. Jordan Nguyen
“One in five Australians has some form of disability,” he explained. “But what really shocked me was that a massive 1.4 million Australians have a severe or profound disability.
“I couldn’t comprehend it. So I started looking for better ways to embrace technology and make life better for those who need it.”
One of Dr. Nguyen’s projects involved creating a musical instrument for Jess Irwin – a friend of his who lives with profound Cerebral Palsy – to control with her eyes.
“We enlisted artists, poets, engineers – basically anyone who could give us an interesting perspective,” he explained. “I had to bring musicians into the room to help us create this musical device and I had to bring Jess into the room because I was designing it for her.”
After two weeks of experimentation, the team created a pie-shaped instrument that Jess practised on for only two weeks. The combination of experts from both artistic and scientific fields meant they were able to converge different technologies to make an invention that was both technically proficient and usable.
Jess played the new invention at the Sydney Opera House, where she was accompanied by the Australia Piano Quartet. “It was such a great moment for us and for our people,” Dr. Nguyen explained. “Because when you engage any sort of team in innovation, you get people who are going to see things that you don’t see, hear things that you don’t hear.”
Assembling teams from different disciplines and walks of life means that your business has a greater capacity to push the boundaries of what was previously impossible. This potential for dynamic innovation – like creating technologies that work with people’s abilities instead of against them – ultimately benefits both businesses and customers alike.
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