We Can Do Better

Everywhere you look, there are things we can be doing better....on a personal level, we can be better clinicians, researchers, educators and leaders; on a systems' level, we can be improving quality, cost, and access to health care; on a societal level, we can be solving the problems of the world like poverty and global warming. Too often, however, I think we either throw our arms up in the air in frustration at the nearly impossible task, or bury our heads in the sand thinking that this is as good as it gets. I would put to you that neither is true. 

I read an interesting article today that unlocks a simple secret of how we can be doing better--a lot better. Simply by improving 1% each day over the day before in whatever metric we look at, we can improve by 37-fold over a year! It reminded me a lot of Jim Collins' Good to Great, and his concept of turning the flywheel--how small incremental changes can lead to ever-increasing momentum.  

And the pursuit of "better" never ends....whether in our clinical and research productivity at work, our cancer treatments, our teaching abilities, our interpersonal communication, and our leadership skills. We can always do better.... I sat in my Leadership Development class at Yale today and pondered the many things I could do better. I've already started making my list of things I want to improve.... but just think, if each of us picked just one thing we could do/make better, we could be so much further ahead! No doubt, we've come a long way, but the road is long and unyielding....And while some may look ahead with exasperation, the truth is that the continual pursuit of better is what pushes us forward. 

So here's my mid-year challenge to the world: Do better. Apply for an ASCO Innovation grant and come up with ways of conquering cancer in low- to middle-income countries, walk instead of driving and reduce emissions causing global warming, hug your family and tell them you love them, inspire a young person to do great things.....whatever you want to do, do it.....and then do better.


The ideas and opinions expressed on the ASCO Connection Blogs do not necessarily reflect those of ASCO. None of the information posted on ASCOconnection.org is intended as medical, legal, or business advice, or advice about reimbursement for health care services. The mention of any product, service, company, therapy or physician practice on ASCOconnection.org does not constitute an endorsement of any kind by ASCO. ASCO assumes no responsibility for any injury or damage to persons or property arising out of or related to any use of the material contained in, posted on, or linked to this site, or any errors or omissions.


Don S. Dizon, MD, FACP

Jun, 30 2013 10:26 AM

Dear Anees,
Great post and highly motivating. When I was at Women & Infants Hospital, our director, Skip Granai, had a question that he felt was emblematic of the Program in Women's Oncology-- Can we do more?

While "more" is not necessarily equivalent with "better" (we can all find examples where doing more was exactly the opposite of doing better), I find your quest to do better was in sync with his quest to do more- it was all about improvement on the status quo- whether in a system, a practice, or in one's own life.

I suppose the lesson here is that one should never stop learning- To learn is to improve, to aim for better, and hopefully in the end, do more- for our patients, ourselves, and society.

Loved your post- DSD

Anees B. Chagpar, MD, MPH, MBA, MSc, MA, FACS, FRCS, FASCO

Jun, 30 2013 3:23 PM

Thanks Don!

Back to Top