What I learned – from dr. House

house-cartoonI don’t consider myself a TV-slave, but I have to admit I sometimes catch myself watching and very much enjoying TV-shows.

One of the shows I happen to watch from time to time is the critically acclaimed Fox series House, about Gregory House MD the a-social yet excellent doctor who often clashes with other doctors including his superiors. These clashes are primarily due to his controversial theories and insights and let’s face it – his lack of social skills.

Although I watch TV for mere relaxation and entertainment, I have found that my brain is somehow wired so that it is impossible for me NOT to analyse what goes on in a wider perspective.

Over the years, I have often thought it strange that great management consulting firms like McKinsey and BCG, employ doctors and then transform them into management consultants. Amond my friends I have several who are excellent doctors, but I have great difficulties seeing them as management consultants.

However, some time ago, while watching House, I was struck by doctors deriving an accurate diagnosis based on vague symptoms and lack of reliable information. I quickly related this process to my own field of work, and discussed it with my best friend (who happens to be a  doctor).

During our discussions we found that the fundamentals of being a good doctor is not that different from doing good management consulting work. They are both based on the same three fundamental principles

  • Get an accurate diagnosis (what disease could each symptom potentially indicate?)
  • Build a hypothesis based on structured thinking (which hypothesis/hypotheses do you believe are more probable?)
  • Apply scrutiny and subsequent testing trying to disprove or tighten the diagnosis (what circumstances would indicate that the hypothesis is wrong?)

Realizing this, I no longer wonder how a medical background can be a valuable for management consulting firms (“McKinsey style”) and what we can learn from doctors to become better professionals.

Now, maybe it is time business knowledge gives something back to the hospitals in terms of competence…


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