Doctors are used to reading and testing wits with experts during clinicopathologic conferences. A case is presented and an invited expert is asked to discuss the findings, discuss possible diagnoses, and declare what he or she thinks is wrong. Then, based on the autopsy findings, the answer is revealed and, sometimes, to everyone's surprise, the answer is totally unexpected. In fact, when patients are autopsied, 30% of the time it shows an unsuspected finding. Unfortunately, since only 5% of patients who die now undergo an autopsy, this kind of event is less common.
We all know that learning from failure is critical for entrepreneurial success. Unfortunately, not everyone does it, usually because they don't take personal responsibility for the outcomes. But, there are many ways to learn not just from your own business demise, but others’ as well.
Doctors in training do it all the time:
1. Case studies: A tried and true way to dissect what went right or wrong and why.
2. The premortem analysis: A risk evaluation and mitigation strategy that looks at the most likely causes of failure looking forward and ways to immunize or manage the problems.
3. Innovation Grand Rounds: An overview of particular a technology, market, or opportunity and how others are pursuing it.
4. Entrepreneurs in residence: Like visiting professors in medicine, working with students and faculty on emerging companies and technologies
5. Innovation Morbidity and Mortality Conference: What went wrong and why and what can we do to prevent it from happening again?
6. Journal Club: Analyzing articles on a given topic to learn how to critically read the literature.
7. Rounds: Visiting companies on a regular basis to monitor clinical progress.
8. Discharge planning: Discussing when it's time to move from one location or care environment to the next, like moving from an accelerator to a scalerator.
9. Personal development plans: Comparing expected to actual progress in your knowledge, skills, experience and personal growth.
10. Mentors: Assigning a mentor to someone who needs improvement and monitoring.
Biomedical and health entrepreneurs need to learn from their mistakes just like other entrepreneurs. But they don't necessarily have to go to the morgue to do so.