Joe’s Journal: On Medicine and Management

“Management is no more a science than is medicine: Both are practices. A practice feeds from a large body of true sciences. Just as medicine feeds off biology, chemistry, physics and a host of other natural sciences, so management feeds off economics, psychology, mathematics, political theory, history and philosophy. But like medicine, management is also a discipline in its own right, with its own assumptions, its own aims, its own tools, and its own performance goals and measurements.”

Peter F. Drucker

I have a lot of thoughts linking the practice of management with the practice of medicine. Perhaps readers can relate.

In both fields, the objective is to make and to keep the patient well. Medicine draws upon a huge body of scientific knowledge, as indicated in the quote from Peter Drucker. Its top journals, The New England Journal of Medicine, The Lancet, and the Journal of the American Medical Association land on the desks of doctors, and they are more widely read by practicing physicians than are the top management journals by executives.

[EXPAND More]That is probably because the practice of medicine is much further developed than the practice of management. Yet, just like in the practice of management, the practice of medicine is always dealing with the human being. And the way we deal with human beings can make the difference in both medical outcomes and management outcomes.

Physicians take the Hippocratic Oath and also promise to “do no harm.” This oath is beginning to appear in business schools, although it does not yet have the influence that it does in medical schools.

Emphasizing the whole person has proven itself beneficial in the practice of medicine, and there is empirical evidence that supports the use of humor and prayer in generating positive outcomes in healthcare. I believe these are also important to the practice of management.

There is a lot wrong with our healthcare system in the U.S., but there are a lot of medical personnel whose performance really makes a difference in the lives of their patients. This too should be the aim of management. It is important for an organization to perform, to heal, but it is also important what happens to individuals in the process: Do they shrivel up or do they grow?

–Joe Maciariello[/EXPAND]