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Thursday, October 13, 2011

Health not Healthcare: The Quiet Revolution

Starting October 1, I started working full time in the Federal Health Futures Group - this experience will rate as one of my peak work opportunities

 - and I have had many highs in my life having worked with and studied under some of the best minds in the world, Turing award winner Douglas Engelbart, Finance pioneer Fisher Black, Franco Modigliani, Robert Merton, both winners of the Nobel Economics, Tom Siebel - founder of Siebel Systems, Marc Benioff - founder of SalesForce.com and many many more less well known, but no less brilliant, quirky and demanding than each of these.

 What is it that we are working on in the Federal Health Futures Group that is so invigorating ?

Well there are many facets but I like to describe what we do in terms of the classic management paper by Stephen Kerr

 We are beginning to recognize and starting the process of correcting:

 The folly of rewarding A while hoping for B Where A = health care and B = health

 The Atlantic Monthly has a prime example of the benefits that can emerge naturally when you actually begin to directly head for how to increase Health. For yourself, your family, your community, the nation, the world.

 Instead of spending so much time working out increasing the amount of healthcare to deliver, how often, and whether or not it will be reimbursed.

 There are many people who care and many of them are working to make things better - the quiet revolution is underway and I am pleased to join it. To do the best I can.

 Wangari Maathai tells a story about the humming bird who saw a fire in the forest. The humming bird, with its little beak and little wings, chose to do something about the fire. She carried water from the pond to the fire. Back and forth, again and again, she carried drop by drop of water and dropped each drop on the massive raging fire.

All the other animals had already decided that it was hopeless to put out the fire. After all, they had learned that fires burn down forests and that's how life is. They stood by, watching their world burn around them. They stood by, watching the hummingbird carry water to and fro.

They stood by, criticizing her for choosing to do something so small, while they chose to do nothing. 

The hummingbird just kept on carrying water. She did the best she could. Now, imagine how this story might continue..... While the animals stand by, they begin to turn their head, from the pond to the fire, they watch the humming bird carry the drops of water. Their heads turned, from the water to the fire. A monkey watched the hummingbird, he imagined himself carry water to and fro in a coconut shell. The elephant, turning his head to watch the hummingbird, felt the swing of his powerful trunk and thought "Well, if the hummingbird can make a difference, so can I with my big trunk".

Soon, one by one, in small groups, each animal followed the hummingbird in their own way. And other animals saw their friends carrying water, and more animals began to carry water. Drop by drop, trunk by trunk, they together put out the fire.

They did the best they could.

 Let us each have the courage to carry a drop of water.

 MIT OpenCourseWare: I'm invested

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