As individuals, we may have different views of a particular problem and may pursue various (often vested) interests in trying to resolve it. And that’s OK. In fact, it is enriching and stimulating to bring all these different views to the table. Solutions for complex problems found in an open, respectful exchange of diverging opinions – collaborative team solutions – are usually better than those initially proposed by each single individual involved.
That said, finding a solution requires commitment; first of all, the commitment to get involved and participate in the collaborative process. It is worth stressing in this context that refusing to participate, when given the opportunity, is rarely a profitable solution. If one declines to participate, somebody else will substitute and argue on one’s behalf – and this runs the risk that that somebody will be less apt to the challenge than the one who has chosen to stay on the side line. Also, by standing off side in finding solutions, by forfeiting to bring one’s opinion to the table, one loses the legitimation to complain about the later outcome. This applies also to leadership positions one might be asked to take on…
Finding a solution for a complex problem requires further to keep in mind the greater good of which each of us is “only” a part. Finding a solution requires a willingness to accept that no one can have everything he/she wants, that there needs to be a give and take from all parties involved, always keeping in mind the greater good we choose to aim to achieve together as a team, as a program, as Department, as an institution.
Why choose? Aren’t we rather forced to aim for what somebody “above us” decided, whether we like it or not? Who has not thought in more than one instance that “those above” are incompetent, if not worse? “We” powerless sufferers – “them” having all the say. Where is the choice here?
Well, didn’t we make the decision to work where we work? There are always alternatives. We could move somewhere else, do something else – if we would choose to accept the consequences. Could, that we don’t, indicate that we have at least deep down some common ground, some common view of that greater good?
OK, but does our individual view, our opinion really count? If not by “them”, are we not just being pushed around and played with by “the system”? That’s not a valid excuse either. Who is “the system”? Is “the system” not made up of all of us? Let’s think of our Health Care System – if there is such a thing at all (see recommended reading). Now take away the people it (should) serve(s), then the people working in it. Would it still exist? I doubt it. There is no such thing as an abstract, amorphous system devoid of people. We, the sum of all individual people in it make “the system”, define what it is, how it looks like, how it works (or not), each of us in his/her own specific place.
Let’s continue to try hard to shape “the system” of our health care, each in his/her place, to find sustainable solutions for its many complex problems, each of us contributing his/her view, always respectful of other opinions, collaboratively, and always with that greater good in mind that we choose to work for: the benefit of our patients today and in the future.
BTW: we don’t need to become altruistic saints, as this is of course also for our own benefit. We will all likely become patients at some point. Hopefully without being put in a situation forcing us to admit that we refuse to be the patient of a health care system of which we are/were a member, to modify a famous Groucho Marx quote.
Henry Mintzberg “Managing the Myths of Health Care” Berrett-Kohler Publisher, 2017.
Henry Mintzberg is the Cleghorn Professor of Management Studies at McGill University and the recipient of twenty honorary degrees from universities around the world