Friday, July 7, 2017

She Blinded Me With Science! Creativity, Non-Conformity and Moving Ideas Forward

Although not my favorite musical artist, I do respect the vision and creativity of Thomas Dolby (of She Blinded Me With Science songwriting fame). His perspective on stimulating creativity can be seen below in this short TED video.


To quote Mr. Dolby, to really be creative " throw away that crutch and work outside of your comfort zone." Try something new, feel the buzz of excitement.

This reminded me of a book that I recently read, Originals, by Adam Grant, wherein he explores how non-conformists move the world. The TED talk by Adam Grant can be found here. I particularly like the concept of being a tempered radical, toning down an idea so as to allow it to take root and flourish. This is a form of pragmatism, something I fancy. In our experience, without an element of tempered radicalism and pragmatism we would never have convinced our hospital administration to discontinue the use of contact precautions for MRSA and VRE. Other concepts highlighted in Originals include questioning the default, exploring multiple ideas while accepting that most will fail, obtaining critical feedback and even procrastinating strategically (so as to let things simmer and mature).

These principles are universally applicable, even in a seemingly less creative field as infectious diseases. Ideas and strategies are the drivers of improved health and outcomes. To that I say challenge existing paradigms if the evidence supporting them is weak. Try new things yet do no harm.  Ask why or why not? Many ideas may not pay dividends in the end. If so, no worries, move on to something else.

Most importantly, surround yourself with talented people and encourage them to explore new perspectives and strategies. In the end the output of the team will exceed the sum of the individual parts. 

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