August 14, 2005

The Right Mix of Theory and Practice

I've worked with outstanding business people. Individuals from whom I learned so much without realizing it. For example Simon Witts, Dave Carter, Judy Elder, Michael Herman, and Mike Clark (like me is an ADP Alumni). Mike in my opinion was the ultimate business developer. But it hasn't been corporate individuals that made the deepest impact on me. I've learned interesting things from the Public Sector.

For a number of years I've been associated with a renowned medical researcher. Renowned in that he's attained the highest level of awards. Except that he isn't your typical researcher...he's a Physician Scientist. This is Dr. Paul Walfish of Toronto's Mount Sinai Hospital. You may not have heard that name but I guarantee that he's impacted millions of lives...including yours.

Dr. Walfish employs a unique blend of research and clinical activities. A rare approach in medicine today. It's an approach that's out-numbered by pure-play Phd's. These are individuals who rarely have practical experience with real people. Walfish's patient practice helps direct his scientific research and vice versa. His output improves people's lives everyday. It increases longevity and could very well lead to the cure for a number of diseases.

The interplay between theory and practice also appears in the sports pages this past week. The Great One - Wayne Gretsky, probably the best hockey player ever, signed on as the coach of the Pheonix Coyotes hockey team. What's material about this, is that in sports coaches with practical experience are out-numbered by those that were never actual players. I can't imagine being coached by someone who hasn't even practiced in the field of endeavor. Scotty Bowman is a notable exception.

There are great lessons from Gretsky and Walfish. Employing the appropriate blend of theory and practice works. The right balance in medicine saves lives. In the corporate world the right mix delivers profits and competitive advantage.

p.s. email me if you would like more info on Dr. Walfish's research

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