Team Think

Over the years, my friend, Eric Morgenstern, has often quoted Kenneth Blanchard with the saying, “None of us is as smart as all of us.”  It goes right along with the idea that “two heads are better than one” and other such concepts.  It all means that by pooling resources – that is, brainpower – the solution is likely to be better thought out, more carefully considered, more robust in nature and more likely to succeed.

I witnessed this first hand a few weeks ago during time my family spent in Rochester, Minnesota, at the famed Mayo Clinic.  A close family member was hospitalized there due to some serious medical issues.  As soon as the team at Mayo learned of his symptoms, they mobilized!  The order of events went something like this:

  1. The staff took the patient’s vitals;
  2. A nurse asked a lot of questions about history, symptoms, etc.;
  3. The data was quickly compiled and immediately turned over to a group of physicians – experts from a variety of fields and disciplines;
  4. The physicians stopped by, as a team (five of them!), to personally meet the patient;
  5. The physicians reviewed the data in great detail;
  6. The physicians conferred with one another to come up with initial thoughts about the nature of the issue and treatment options – they didn’t leave their conference until they were all in agreement;
  7. The physicians returned to the patient’s room to discuss the situation and next steps;
  8. The patient and his family were given options;
  9. The patient and his family made necessary decisions;
  10. The process repeated itself.

Let me summarize the key points here:  Five doctors were on my relative’s service.  They visited him together, they studied his charts together, they made medical determinations together.  

Mayo Team
Members of our Mayo Clinic Team (from left to right): Dr. Ashok Patel, Dr. Elena Myasoedova, Dr. Gene Conley

Though Mayo takes this approach with all of its care, in our case, the team lead was the amazing Dr. Ashok Patel.  His team debated in private and emerged in lockstep.  Together, the team “owned” and cared for their patient like family.  They were unified.  I’ve never seen anything like it in medicine and it was something to behold.  In fact, when I asked Dr. Patel if I could take his picture as I planned to blog about our experience with him and the hospital he responded true to form, “Sure!  Let me get the team.”

Indeed, the physicians practice medicine with a team spirit – they engage like they are part of something larger than themselves.  What a special experience.  What if, in business, we all took this approach?  To put a team on the case – to review the data, to diagnose, to debate, to emerge as a unified force with a plan of action.  Can you imagine the power of the team?

Now don’t get me wrong:  I’m not interested in “groupthink,” the practice of group decision-making done in a way that discourages creativity and/or individual accountability.  However, what I am interested in is “team think,” the practice of gathering group input, engaging in healthy debate, digging deeper on issues to uncover important nuances that, once addressed, elevate the solution to produce a better and more effective outcome.

I can tell you the level of care, compassion and team think that my family experienced at the Mayo Clinic gave us more confidence and aided in our decision-making for our loved one’s treatment.  In our case, we were dealing with human health and wellness issues.  For what aspects of your business might this approach make sense?  If you were to apply principles to your business, might it not be possible to experience better outcomes for the issues you face?  It might not work every time… you might be concerned about hours spent, groupthink or the like… but, then again, it just might work!  Can you imagine it?  Go, Team. Go!

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