I’ve just started to work my way through a textbook on the healthcare industry called Quantum Leadership: A Resource for Health Care Innovation by O’Grady and Malloch. My good friend Denise recommended it to me the other day. She’s a masters-qualified RN and the book was a required text in a course she took a couple of years ago.
It’s a sign of how much I respect her that I would voluntarily buy and try to read a 460+ page college textbook. (The current, 3rd, edition is 500+ but I bought a used copy of the 2nd edition so my copy would match hers.) In our previous professional lives, Denise and I were co-founders, along with several others, of a moderately successful bootstrapped software company. And I have learned that, when she says something is useful to know and think about, I should pay attention.
Denise is not the only person I respect who draws parallels between the healthcare and software industries and their practitioners. Andy Hunt’s Pragmatic Thinking and Learning , which I read a couple of years ago when it first came out, is quite explicit about how the skills development processes for nurses and for software developers have a lot in common.
I’ve now sampled several sections in the Quantum book and worked my way methodically through Chapter 1. I agree with Denise — many of the lessons of the book could apply as easily to the current state of the software industry as to her embattled healthcare industry. So I’m going to keep going.
It’s not an easy read. I’m finding the writing to be the oddest mix of inspired prose in one paragraph followed, in the next, by long convoluted sentences that seem to say not much. Frankly, some sentences read like PHd-babble to me but it has been a LONG time since I worked my way through an academic text book, so some of that may be just me. In any case, I’ve been marking up my copy as I go and notice I am finding something to underline on a lot of the pages.
What I didn’t expect to find were a lot of sentences that apply far outside of either of our industries. But I have to share this one
There is nothing more tragic for society than the desperate stranglehold on a system in need of great change by leaders who benefit by delaying or avoiding the necessary shifts. These leaders cease to be relevant or viable and actively contribute to the overwhelming onset of a great decline and ultimate failure.
For me that sentence really resonates in the context of politics in my own country right now. It seems to me that so many of our political leaders are entirely focused on ‘the game’ and preserving their place within it. While we speed towards an uncertain future with all sorts of real problems just ahead, they avoid the real issues and work only at scoring points against one another and protecting turf.