Medical Leaders in an Idea Economy

September 15, 2012

I was at a meeting not long ago where I had dinner with two rising stars of the pediatric world.  The conversation drifted into the dodgy territory of international journals they had found which were willing to publish less-than-stellar research.  One advised the other how to make two weaker publications where there was one.

Our meeting lacked intellectual energy.  There was no spark of fresh concepts or new perspectives.  Little passion, just process.  Sleight of hand for self-promotion and the mass production of peer-reviewed widgets.

These are the medical leaders of tomorrow.  Or are they?

In medicine we’re trapped in a system that values laundry lists over ideas.  But we need to think about what we value.  In the knowledge economy, ideas are the new commodity.  Steven Johnson tells us that the most innovative ideas throughout history have resulted from networks of creative people collaborating and challenging one another to explore the adjacent possible.  It’s how we begin to solve problems.  Peter Diamandis has it right in his book, Abundance: ”In a rapidly changing technological culture and an ever-growing information-based economy, creative ideas are the ultimate resource.”

While we are likely to remain preoccupied with lengthy lists, the medical leader of tomorrow will trade globally in the currency of ideas.

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