The Think like a Detective Blog

Weekly tips and tricks that show you how to Think Like a Detective to uncover better insights—from a REAL-LIFE detective turned market detective.

Prescription Without Diagnosis is Malpractice - in Both Medicine and Research

Feb 17, 2024

I was a paramedic when I graduated from college.

Kinda like Nicholas Cage in the Martin Scorcese film, Bringing Out the Dead.

I learned something important.

Prescription, without diagnosis, is malpractice.

Consider this scenario:

A patient presents with a heart rate of 48 (“normal” is 80-100 beats per minute).

They are cool to the touch, sweaty, and pale.

In fact, in the words of Eminem (in Lose Yourself):

His palms are sweaty, knees weak, arms are heavy There’s vomit on his sweater already, mom’s spaghetti.

Knowing nothing else, what do you think? Are you worried? How would you treat this patient?

It’s a trick question.

  • 🟢 If this was a 22-year-old marathon runner that just finished their best race, this might be considered normal. No treatment necessary.
  • 🔴 If this was an 80-year-old heart patient, this might give you the “pucker effect,” i.e., the "pucker effect" is what happens when your body faces danger and tenses up and prepares for action. Better get ready to treat a major cardiac event.

The point is that you don’t start treating a patient without first diagnosing the problem and understanding the underlying context.

Because prescription without diagnosis can have serious consequences for patients. Misdiagnosing a condition or prescribing the wrong treatment can lead to harmful side effects, complications, and even death ☠️.

Diagnosing a patient’s condition is the most important aspect of medical practice. It helps to determine the underlying cause of an illness and guides the treatment plan. Without proper diagnosis, it is impossible to provide effective treatment and care.

If I went to the doctor with chest pain, and they gave me a Tylenol without any examination, and I died, it’s malpractice.

So, what does this have to do with Research?

Research is a lot like medicine.

Our real value comes from our ability to diagnose first.

Without diagnosis, it is impossible to counsel the business on how to deal with a specific issue because we can't know what the issue is if we don't diagnose it first.

This comes from an analysis of signs and symptoms.

Signs are things that you see. They are objective findings that can be observed or measured during a physical examination or diagnostic test.

  • In medicine, these may include vital signs such as blood pressure, heart rate, and respiratory rate, as well as physical exam findings such as the presence of a rash or skin color.
  • In business, these can be churn rates, win-loss rates for sales, and revenue (to name a few).

Symptoms are things that are told to you. They are subjective experiences reported by a patient, such as pain, fatigue, or nausea. These experiences cannot be directly observed or measured, and are instead described by the patient.

  • In medicine, these may include a complaint of chest pain or a feeling of being short of breath.
  • In business, this could be a customer telling you how unhappy they are with your service delivery or why they chose another business over yours.

Both patients above had the same signs but had very different contexts (and likely very different symptoms). To get the whole picture, you need to holistically evaluate the patient.

🩺 Both signs and symptoms are important in assessing and managing a patient’s health and well-being.

🩺 Both signs and symptoms are important in assessing and managing a business’s health and well-being.

Researchers are equipped to look for signs and symptoms of serious problems in a business:

☠️ Lack of predictable growth ☠️ Decreased business value ☠️ Inability to adapt to unpredictable change ☠️ Too much unmitigated risk that maximizes losses ☠️ Moving slower than the competition

Yet this isn’t how we are used.

Instead, Research has become a surrogate function used to gather data:

  • "We want usability tests!"
  • "We want interviews!"
  • "We want surveys!"
  • "We want NPS!"

Ne'er are researchers asked,

🚀 Can you help sales close more deals 🤑 🚀 Can you help customer success keep more customers 🤑 🚀 Can you identify problems and opportunities in our funnel 🤑

But these are problems we could diagnose and offer treatment plans for.

We could make a difference.

 So I came up with an idea (and would love your feedback).

Enter Customer Forensics—dedicated to helping growth-ready teams make smarter growth bets by using detective-grade forensic analysis techniques to help them better understand their buyers, users, and customers.

Customer Forensics focuses on three things:

  1. Forensic Win/Loss Analysis. Why are we losing and winning deals, and how can we duplicate this and pour rocket fuel on it?
  2. Forensic Churn Analysis. Why are customers not expanding or worse—leaving—and what can we do to fix it?
  3. Forensic Funnel Analysis. Where are problems in our funnel, i.e., Awareness, Acquisition, Activation, Retention, Referral, and Revenue (the pirate metrics)?

Notice all three areas are directly related to GROWTH 🚀

How can we diagnose and treat growth problems?

With Customer Forensics, you get in the mind of your customers and buyers—and use what you learn to help you grow your business.

We use detective-grade forensic techniques to help you capture and keep more customers and win more deals.

If you truly believe a researcher’s job is to diagnose business problems first and offer treatment options second—it's time to take a different approach.

Let's help the business grow by helping:

🚀 Sales close more deals 🤑 🚀 Customer success keep more customers 🤑 🚀 Identify problems and opportunities in your funnel 🤑

This is my approach; it doesn't have to be yours.

But my recommendation to you is to find a way to diagnose—and offer treatment options—for problems within your business that they care about.

When you do this, you will be free from the risk of malpractice, because:

Prescription, without diagnosis, is malpractice.

Inside the mind of a detective.

Weekly tips and tricks that show you how to Think Like a Detective to uncover better insights—from a REAL-LIFE detective turned market detective.