Lessons Learned

Lessons Learned June 28, 2022

Our own history…and that of others…is a tremendous learning resource. The wisdom we uncover from our past experiences can be used to inform our present and plan for the opportunities of our future. But as noted professor of history, Margaret MacMillan, says, “We can learn from history, but we can also deceive ourselves when we selectively take evidence from the past to justify what we have already made up our minds to do.”

Unfortunately, when we think about our business and its performance, we often get caught in what economists call the present bias. That is, we give more weight to payoffs today rather than payoffs tomorrow or a year from tomorrow. Worse, we use our own bias or emotions to color our decisions. As but one example, most businesses pull back their investments when they smell recession. You may be in that mode…, the stock market is in bear-territory and the word recession is looming large in the chatter which you call the news. I’m convinced that this “follow the news” reaction is a big reason why we have recessions…I call this piling on. Some pendant reads the tea leaves and says, “we may be heading towards a recession.” The news outlets pile on, reporting all the damning statistics that indicate economic challenge. And as a result, people change their behavior…leading to the very recession that we experience. Reality is that “we’re heading towards a recession is a ludicrous statement. Why? Because, if you take a broader view of things…we’re always heading towards a recession. As a result of media’s commentary, people move to conserve. But history teaches us that companies that continue to invest during a recession almost always come out way ahead of those that retract. These firm’s leaders take the long-term view and the firm, and its stakeholders, benefit as a result. A strong retrospective perspective in business keeps us from getting caught in the instant gratification trap of present bias.

Researchers have a term for this called Retrospective Study. The science is used around the world in nearly every profession. The exercise proves that looking back with intent helps us study past moments of struggle and growth. It helps us understand the impact of prior decisions, allowing us to reassess the feasibility of our choices for the building of our future.

Each of you have a tremendous asset in your history. As just one example, look at your first six-month’s performance for 2022. Identify your top 5 days in terms of billings…not collections, but business generated on that day. Then start analyzing why this happened. Who was on staff? What were the metrics of staffing in terms of staff hours per patient or staff hours per doctor hour? What was the weather like on those days? What sold? What didn’t? What went right? What went wrong?

What a great staff-meeting exercise!

What you seek are patterns for success! What can your history tell you about your future? How can you stamp out present bias to deliver a stronger tomorrow?

During our Nashville experience coming in November, Cleinman Performance Network partner practices will be focused on Retrospective Perspective…taking a backward view to get a better perspective on understanding what the future holds. We know this will be a powerful exercise and prompt some great discussion…and the lessons learned will last a lifetime.

We look forward to seeing you in Nashville…in November!

And if you’re not now a Cleinman Partner practice, give us a call to discuss how you might participate in one of our bellwether meetings. We’ve only 15 seats available, so call today.

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