I’ve advised CEOs. I’ve stood by the bedside of loved ones and helped make health care decisions. In a lot of ways, it feels like the same thing.
In both situations:
- The decisions are important and have long-lasting consequences.
- People must often make decisions when they are tired.
- Competing experts offer conflicting advice.
- It’s hard to separate gut feelings from data-based, logical analysis.
- There is never enough data. And collecting data is slow and expensive.
- You often have to explain the same things over and over to the people who are tasked to help you.
- Things are not in your control — execution of key tasks is in the hands of others.
- The “state of the art” is constantly improving, but that makes it hard to keep up with the most modern techniques and advice.
- Decisions often lead to other decisions, just as crucial, in short order.
- Situations are often based on habits over a very long period of time, habits that abate even after the crisis is past.
- The penalty for poor decisions can be existential.
- In some situations the choices are all bad — but you still need to choose the least bad option.
- If something goes wrong, even if it’s not based on what you decided, others will blame you.
Of course, things are not the same. CEOs assemble their teams themselves, of people they can trust and count on. In health situations, the team is often assembled ad-hoc and is not made up completely of trusted, familiar people.
CEOs have enormous resources. Families often have none.
CEOs have experience that has enabled them to become good decision-makers. Families typically don’t.
Of course, people in medical situations have love, which can make things more complicated, but ultimately more tolerable. CEOs rarely have that.
This just makes me wonder if we could take lessons from management in family health care. I’d love to hear your ideas.