How to Balance a Culture of Conformity with Creativity in Medicine

How to Balance a Culture of Conformity with Creativity in Medicine

GUEST POST from Arlen Meyers, M.D.

Medicine, by its nature, is a culture of conformity. We are trained to do no harm, be risk averse, and conform to the standard of care. We follow “best practices” i.e. what everyone else is doing, and are encouraged to follow evidence based guidelines. Medical students are chosen by their ability to score highly on standardized tests and check off the requisite boxes in their application. They know what to say in interviews…over and over again. Physicians have to pass standardized tests to get a license and be board certified to practice and maintain certification.

Now that medicine has become corporatized and more and more doctors in grey flannel suits are working for the man, things have worsened.

Successful innovation and entrepreneurship, on the other hand, encourages a culture of creativity. Now that students, trainees and clinicians are getting more and more interested in physician entrepreneurship and the business of medicine, how do we encourage and balance the two cultures?

  1. Encourage cognitive diversity, not just demographic diversity, in decision making
  2. Don’t penalize failure. Showcase it instead.
  3. Create ambidextrous organizational departments and units that can plan for not just the now, but the next and new as well.
  4. Use evidence based techniques for ideation and creative problem solving. Here are 3 to get you started.
  5. Recruit, hire, develop and promote for creativity
  6. Create psychologically safe spaces to say things
  7. Forget brainstorming
  8. Hire leaderpreneurs who can drive cultural change
  9. Know the difference between good rebels and bad rebels
  10. Don’t confuse disruptive doctors with disruptive doctors
  11. Learn to resolve the conflict between the ethics of medicine and the ethics of business

Sometimes thinking outside of the box will get you in trouble. Other times, not doing so will box you in. You decide.

Image credit: Pixabay

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