Wednesday, December 20, 2006

I don't want no stinkin yes people

Patrick Lambe at Green Chameleon has an interesting read about taking his sister to the hospital in Bangkok and encountering a young pharmacist who had the common sense and empowerment to question the doctor‘s prescription.

The story reminded me how fortunate I am to be surrounded by people who ask really hard questions. This is exactly what I want. Thinking people! If I can‘t convince those closest to me that something is worth doing then I haven‘t done my job.

What struck me was how she took no chances, how she trusted her instincts in spite of the doctor's prescription, how she trusted her judgement over what we had told her. Then there was the empowerment she must have had, manifested in her call to the doctor to confirm his prescription. She saw herself as being just as responsible and accountable as he was. For us, the oversight of the doctor was overshadowed by the initiative of the young pharmacist.
Could the doctor have not heard my sister's response or did he not know that the original drug prescribed would be a mistake. Did the pharmacist know for sure that the drug would be wrong or did she just call to confirm her instincts? She spoke Thai so we could not understand what she said.
It's human nature to trust our own knowledge over that of someone else's unless that someone else happens to be an expert on the subject. So how do we know when to question expert knowledge? In organizations, do we have the opportunity and more importantly, the courage to question expert knowledge? People need to speak up and question assumptions, long held beliefs that with time no longer hold true, sacred cows that are now carcasses. We do not question authority, we question knowledge. We learn, we all learn why one view is good and the other is better, irrespective of whether they come from an expert or not.

Well said! So my advice, if everyone is telling you you‘re wonderful and that your ideas are the best, take a hard look at yourself. Personally, I want to be challenged every step of the way.

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