Emil J. Frieriech was hired in 1955 by the fledgling National Cancer Institute in Bethesda, Maryland. As the new guy on the totem pole, he was given the job, in his words, “to stop the bleeding”. In those days the scene for childhood leukemia was almost barbaric. Blood was everywhere. Those children diagnosed were given only eight weeks before they bled out. Frieriech, an innovative mind of the hospital, studied the radiation effects of the WW II atom bombings and discovered connections between radiation, lack of platelets and bleeding out. Those patients had died from hemorrhaging. Although the medical community dismissed his claims, Freireich mixed platelets from his own blood with blood from leukemic children and without fail, the bleeding stopped. This procedure was quickly applied to the leukemia ward with mass success. Further on in his career, Freirreich made massive strides in finding the cure to leukemia.
The challenge this last week was to evaluate yourself as a team leader or team member. Do you encourage the innovative power of your small group? Or does unwritten protocol dampen and deplete innovation?
There are many more Emil J. Frieriech’s than we probably think. So the next time you think to dismiss an idea that seems against the status quo, or provokes you to say, “Well, that’s not how we do it here”, think of Emil, and remember that mixing platelets in the 50’s was also, “not how they did it there”. Allow your team to be the one that disrupts the status quo to make strides that are desperately desired by your patients and the future of health care.
As a leader and team member, you have the power to not only cultivate innovation, but to promote and encourage it.
Good luck this week!