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Using data for effective work

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By a system I mean that the diverse people actually work together to direct their specialized capabilities toward common goals for patients. They are coordinated by design. They are pit crews. To function this way, however, you must cultivate certain skills which are uncommon in practice and not often taught.

For one, you must acquire an ability to recognize when you’ve succeeded and when you’ve failed for patients. People in effective systems become interested in data. They put effort and resources into collecting them, refining them, understanding what they say about their performance.

Second, you must grow an ability to devise solutions for the system problems that data and experience uncover…

That’s from Atul Gawande’s commencement speech at Harvard Medical School, entitled “Cowboys and Pit Crews.”

While Dr. Gawande is speaking directly to physicians, I think that the paragraphs above apply equally well to all professions. The idea is to admit that you can’t you can’t do everything by yourself, to recognize the strengths of others, to promote diversity in your life and work, and to use data to help you understand what you are doing right and what you are doing wrong.

Read the entire speech.

Written by Niall

May 27, 2011 at 6:29 pm

Posted in Data

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