As Steve Jobs famously said at Stanford University in a 2005 commencement address, “You can’t connect the dots looking forward, you can only connect them looking backwards”, there is great value in reflection and dedicated evaluation of the road traveled to the present situation.
There is learning to be accomplished by taking the problem, challenge, or success and connecting the dots backwards to the beginning. There are insights to be gained by finding the decisions and paths taken at each step to end up at the present. I believe some of these processes of lessons learned are personal and are best left to individual contemplation, but in business and our team work we would benefit from connecting backwards in order to understand the best path forward.
There will always be times where it seems we have ‘blind trust’ in the future; we take the ‘big leap’. In reality it is not ‘blind’, but we have evaluated what has come before, and have confidence in our ‘gut feelings’. Maybe it has not been verbalized, but we are aware of it anyway. We should be sharing these lessons within our teams, and listening to their critiques.
Too often clinical research can be a victim of not enough thoughtful reflection on those lessons learned. Good intentions overlook reality. We have all been there, wanting the easiest, speediest and least expensive process to work and succeed. We feel reluctant or ‘negative’ to tell our team or clients that what we have learned might adversely affect their program. We need to overcome those inclinations to be ‘yes’ women/men. We need to collaborate, challenge ideas and bring our connecting of the dots from the past into the present and future.
So, let us get out our markers and start connecting those dots from our experiences on projects. I am sure there will be a unique picture in there somewhere!