My wife, who is Chief Medical Officer at a university health service, recently gave me a copy of Douglas Stone and Sheila Heen’s Thanks for the Feedback: The Science and Art of Receiving Feedback Well. No, she wasn’t trying to send me a message, just to share something that has been useful to her at work. I can see why. The authors point out that although we all receive feedback constantly, we often don’t really want it.
This book can help leaders in health care become more self-aware about a common initial reaction to performance data: looking for reasons why it is wrong and, thus, can be ignored. We need to get our colleagues to pull data toward themselves, not push it away — to adopt the mind-set that internalizing information is as valuable as collecting and analyzing it. If we believe that data should be used to improve care for patients, we’ll be more inclined to stop dismissing it and instead try to use it as wisely as possible.
Metrics and data will never be perfect, always subject to fair criticism. But to be a good clinician and an effective manager or leader, you must be capable of acting on imperfect, incomplete information. This book could help organizations in that endeavor.