Before you go any further in reading this, watch this video.
Have you watched it? OK, then let’s proceed.
I have been reading Every Patient Tells a Story by Lisa Sanders, a technical advisor to the television show House. Lisa is an internist at Yale and an expert in the diagnosis process. The book provides an excellent description of how our medical system is predisposed to have difficulties in finding the causes to the unusual diseases. She talks about doctors focusing on the common solutions to a complicated combination of symptoms, not understanding the problem in depth before providing a diagnosis and relying too much on technology to make decisions that should have a human component.
This led me to thinking about how in business we also make these same kinds of errors. Normally, these errors don’t have a human life or death hanging in the balance, but the viability of the business sure might. The video that I pointed to at the beginning of this post shows that sometimes we don’t have the right attention to detail.
Extrapolate that finding into your business life and you will find all kinds of ways to increase your vigilance and gather more information to make informed decisions. Now, I am not advocating analysis paralysis here. Just as in the medical field, if you wait until you have every piece of evidence, the patient could likely be dead. But you should be thinking about how to gather the right information and how to be aware of changes from your expectations. In general, if everything is at status quo, you are missing something. Perhaps it is the marketplace asking for something new. Perhaps it is your competition who is planning a different strategy. Perhaps it is the legal or regulatory environment. Perhaps it is just your own employees who are tired of the same old thing and are letting up on quality. Any of these can have a huge impact on your business. Your job is to watch out for the color changes, while the cards are being dealt.