It will come as no surprise to some of you that I’m a voracious reader, with a specialist interest around business and marketing. Occasionally I step outside my specific niche and read books that are recommended by The Times and the Institute of Directors. One of the books that was recommended was by a cardiac surgeon called Dr Samer Nashef entitled The Naked Surgeon. The essence of the book was the change in attitude by cardiac surgeons in their ambition to publish their mistakes and therefore giving other surgeons the ability to learn from these mistakes. For decades, it was almost impossible to firmly establish which surgeons performed specific procedures better than others for similarly afflicted patients.
Of course, this “open book” practice has been common procedure for pilots to ensure that their colleagues would not make the same mistakes that they had. The result of this has been a dramatic reduction of the number of air born deaths. Dr Nashef created innovative and now globally accepted benchmarking tools that have revolutionised not only cardiac surgical success rates but those of other medical procedures as well. Not only did patients have the ability to choose their surgeon based upon solid criteria, but more people have survived and medical malpractice claims have dropped too.
So why was I inspired? And why is this now recommended reading for any organisation with a quality assurance interest? Simply put, it has made me amongst many hundreds of thousands business owners recognise that there are parallel lessons to be learnt. The ability for employees to talk openly about their mistakes and what they have learnt from those mistakes and the systems they have implanted to prevent them happening again relates to all businesses where “something could go wrong”. What is vital is that those who blow the whistle on themselves are not reprimanded but are applauded for their openness, integrity and passion about improving the experience of others.
In business, this can translate into an employee flagging up a particularly bad customer service call, a technician holding his hand up to a bodged repair. Or simply a lack of attention when fulfilling a picking order in a warehouse. Rather than shooting down these individuals for their honesty, they should be celebrated for bringing this to everyone’s attention and helping others to establish systems and procedures that reduce future such incidences.
I thought it was a fascinating approach towards quality control and many lessons learnt through cardiac surgery can be translated into our own businesses. I can think of many sales led organisations who analyse KPI’s, reviewing individual’s performance on the assumption that the quality of the lead is the same across the board. It will be useful to review the sales that do not go through as much as it is to analyse the successful transactions so that everyone involved can learn from others experiences.
If you’d like a copy of the Naked Surgeon, please email Karla directly on karla@