The more you look, the less you see.
This should be a very short post.
Basically, I want to share what I learnt from the legendary story of Scurvy. Yes! The Scurvy that killed many people in the 13th century. For the records, Scurvy is a disease resulting from a deficiency of vitamin C, which is required for the synthesis of collagen in humans. So how is it that it came to be that the shortage of vitamin C killed hundreds of thousands and what can we learn from this epic story?
A scourge that ravaged.
I came to really appreciate this story through the lens of Malcom Gladwell in his classic award winning literature David and Goliath. According to his well researched narrative and documented history, scores indeed died as a result of Scurvy. At this time, the scourge of Scurvy could be said to be similar to the notoriety of many diseases in our post modern world (Malaria, HIV, Cancer, e.t.c). The fear of Scurvy was the beginning of wisdom. Sufferers were treated like plague much like Ebola victims are today.
Scurvy was particularly common among sea travelers. In very dire situations, many people aboard were thrown off board travelling ships in the middle of deep seas. Once victims of scurvy showed any of the early signs, they were summarily disposed off. Scurvy was a death sentence. Quarantine was a luxury arrangement.
Assault versus deficiency
The medical practitioners and chiropractors of the day treated Scurvy as a virus. Their clinical approach and methodology was along the lines of Scurvy being an anti-body that attacked the human host. For a long time, they saw Scurvy as an assault on the human body and so long they approached the disease through that lens, more people died. It became quite apparent after many failed attempts and trials that Scurvy was not an assault but a deficiency. The death toll began to wane once the right questions were being asked.
This story is one that reminds solution providers and innovators alike that perspective really matters. If your diagnosis is wrong, the solution is doomed. Not every problem stems from external sources (competition). The earlier we realise that internal failures (weaknesses) could sometimes pose greater harm to us and our entities, the better we will prevent avoidable casualties. Similarly, I have personally always believed that what we sometimes refer to as weakness is nothing other than overplayed strength. Its all a matter of perspective.