Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Book Review - Better: Notes from a Surgeon on Performance

This book was recommended to me by Paul Zebell who had read it. I found several takeaways that can apply to transportation or any industry.  

 Here are some of my favorite excerpts:

You go into this work (medicine) thinking it is all a matter of canny diagnosis, technical prowess, and some ability to empathize with people. But it is not, you soon find out. In medicine, as in any profession, we must grapple with systems, resources, circumstances, people-and our own shortcomings as well. We face obstacles of seemingly unending variety. Yet somehow we must advance, we must refine, we must improve.

Three core requirements for success:
  1. diligence, the necessity of giving sufficient attention to detail to avoid error and prevail against obstacles. You just pay attention, right? No.
  2. do right, reduce failings like avarice, arrogance, insecurity, misunderstanding.
  3. ingenuity, thinking anew. Ingenuity is often misunderstood. It is not a matter of superior intelligence but of character. It demands more than anything a willingness to recognize failure, to not paper over the cracks, and to change.
Betterment is a perpetual labor. The world is chaotic, disorganized, and vexing. We are distractible, weak, and given to our own concerns.

Trying to find a way to reduce malnutrition, doctors went to the homes of villagers to learn what the families of the best-nourished children were doing.
There was a “positive deviance” idea- the idea of building on capabilities of people already had rather than telling them how to change. 

Chapter 3 entitled “Casualties of War” – describes how the armed forces have determined how to save more lives during battle by using forward medical teams that reduce transport time.

One way to improve is “to make a science of performance, to investigate and improve how well “they” use the knowledge and technologies they already have at hand”. You can make simple, almost banal changes that produce enormous improvements.

No comments: