Do You Initiate or Respond?

February 19, 2013

StartButtonSeveral years ago Seth Godin wrote about our modes of daily operation which center around response and initiation.  It’s interesting to look at medicine from this perspective.

In medicine we are all about about response.  At our core, we respond to disease.  On a more granular level we respond to pages, abnormal lab results, and new symptoms in our patients.  We do things when people give us things to do something about.  We get pretty good at this during our training.  Residency is all about responding to throughput.  We learn pretty quickly that the brightest residents are the ones who show up early and check off all their boxes.  We are taught to manage patients.  But managers respond, leaders initiate.

But doctors rarely initiate things.  We don’t see ourselves as leaders.  Probably because we’ve never been trained to start anything.  We walk in lock-step.  Medicine is a permission-based culture.

Of course no one wants a creative anesthesiologist (you may, but that’s another post).  But at some point somewhere, someone has to begin something different.  Checklists have always been important in medicine.  But there have to be those who think about new ways to see the checklist.  At some point the list had to be created, updated and questioned.

More than any time in history this generation of will need doctors with the capacity to break ground.  The Creative Destruction of Medicine isn’t going to go well without professionals who think about how we’re going to put all this technology to good use.

Chris Brogan this morning also wrote about starting.  It’s worth a peek.


{ 1 comment }

Justin Smith February 21, 2013 at 9:03 am

I have definitely found this to be true in my practice and in the town I pratice in.

It is becoming clear in my mind that certain trends in medicine are coming: first EMR and now increased availability to providers (virtual through email and actual through increased hours, etc) and increased involvement of mid-levels.

I find that many of the other doctors around me sit around and complain about these trends. I find myself spending lots of time discussing how we can position ourselves to succeed and even benefit from these trends as complaining about them up until they arrive only puts you behind the game.

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