Collaborative Expertise in Healthcare

October 22, 2014
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collaborative expertise in healthcareI entitled this post “Collaborative Expertise” in deference to Syd Finkelstein’s post entitled “The Problem with Relying on Experts.” Professor Finkelstein, who taught me strategy and mergers and acquisitions in the Tuck MBA program, has been the source of many good ideas since

collaborative expertise in healthcareI entitled this post “Collaborative Expertise” in deference to Syd Finkelstein’s post entitled “The Problem with Relying on Experts.” Professor Finkelstein, who taught me strategy and mergers and acquisitions in the Tuck MBA program, has been the source of many good ideas since I met him in 1996. He makes the point that although we frequently rely on experts, for example, regarding Ebola, the Secret Service, and the financial collapse of 2008, the experts are frequently wrong.

Collaborative Expertise in Healthcare

One reason for experts being wrong lies in trusting their experience rather than bringing in fresh perspectives. The failure lies not in learning but in learning one lesson all too well. In a chapter that we wrote in Better Communication for Better Care, we identified seven warning signs of leadership failure. Unsuccessful healthcare leaders:

  • see themselves and their organizations dominating their environment
  • lose sight of the boundary between organizational and personal interests
  • think that they have all the answers
  • eliminate people who are not 100% behind them
  • are obsessed with company image
  • underestimate major obstacles
  • stubbornly rely on what worked for them in the past

Prof. Finkelstein concludes his post writing that despite their flaws, experts are necessary given the limits of ideology. One way for healthcare leaders to improve their chances of making successful decisions in a rapidly changing marketplace is to share their collaborative expertise with physician champions, outstanding clinicians who have earned the respect of their peers by caring for patients in a consistent and reliable fashion, delivering great clinical outcomes.  They are the people we turn to when we need medical care.  They are also seasoned professionals looking to leverage their knowledge and experience to improve care for their community.

When healthcare leaders express concern that physicians will lose respect for them for appearing ignorant or uncertain, I reply that collaborative learning is never failure.

As always, I welcome your input to improve healthcare collaboration where you work.  Please send me your comments and suggestions for improvement.

Collaborative expertise / shutterstock