(You probably know where this is going, right? But, first, a little digression … .)
This evening I was reading an article by Atul Gawande about improving doctors’ performance. Gawande, if you’re unfamiliar with his work, is a surgeon who is also a gifted writer and an amazing observer of human behavior and complex systems. I love his articles and books about the ways in which medical outcomes can be improved by seemingly simple changes related to checklists, bandages, handwashing, continuing medical education and the like. If you’re unfamiliar with his work and looking for a captivating non-fiction read, check him out. Really. You won’t regret it.
Gawande’s most recent piece was about mid-career doctors and how these individuals could avoid “performance plateaus” and continue to become ever-better physicians. He writes:
Talk about medical progress, and people think about technology. We await every new cancer drug as if it will be our salvation. We dream of personalized genomics, vaccines against heart disease, and the unfathomed efficiencies from information technology … . But the capabilities of doctors matter every bit as much as the technology. This is true of all professions. What ultimately makes the difference is how well people use technology. We have devoted disastrously little attention to fostering those abilities.
It’s about use. And not just use, but better, smarter, wiser more resourceful use. Technology alone is nothing without constantly refined vision and skill.
The clip is old (and the quality is not amazing), but Jobs’ comments about value, relevance, and passion speak volumes about helping people use technology and the transformative purpose for such use.