Second Opinion vs Team of Opinions

I read recently this fascinating story about how Ted Kennedy worked with doctors to treat his brain tumor in a way that kept him alive longer than anyone thought possible.

For most of us when we get really sick we go to a doctor.  They give us a prognosis and then we go to another doctor to get the famed, "Second Opinion."

This is not what Kennedy did.  Ted actually put a group of doctors who all disagreed with each other in a room and had them battle it out.  A doctor would make a claim or state an opinion and Ted would stop the conversation, look at another doctor and say, "Okay-- so what do you think about that?"

Kennedy believed that this made a huge difference in the treatments and care he received and that it led to his longer struggle with his illness.

Kennedy liked a "Team of Opinions" rather than a "Second Opinion."

What struck me was how brilliant that was, how rarely I practice that same principle in my own relationships and how rarely I hear of that principle on leadership teams.

For me, I tend to go from person to person asking for second or third opinions.  Mostly because it's hard to get people in the room together.  But how often to I try to get all the opinions to interact with each other?

An ancient proverb says, "For lack of guidance a nation falls.  But many advisers make victory sure."  I can't help but think this happens when the advisers get to interact with each other, not just with you.

So what would it look like to have teams of opinions in your life and leadership, and not just second opinions?

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