Facts of Life – Unknown Origin

in Health Care

This week, I have been reading a great book by my colleague Robert Lloyd, PhD, Executive Director of Performance Improvement at the Institute for Healthcare Improvement. Published in 2004, Quality Health Care: Developing and Using Indicators is a great resource for learning about process improvement in health care.

Last night, as I finished a chapter (Ch.3), I caught mention of a great little story Bob includes in the chapter notes (p.119). The origin is unknown, but his discovery of it comes from his mother. Reflecting on it, the story really describes what I witness, and many teams encounter in trying to plan, launch, and participate in improvement work.

The Facts of Life

The story that follows is about four (4) people named Everybody, Somebody, Anybody, and Nobody. There was an important job to be done and Everybody was asked to do it. Anybody could have done it, but Nobody did it. Somebody got angry about that because it was Everybody’s job. Everybody thought Anybody could do it, but Nobody realized that Everybody blamed Somebody when Nobody accused Anybody.

In the same chapter (Ch. 3), there is a great quote attributed to one of Bob’s graduate school professors – Dr. Bob Bealer – and how they would respond the the question about sampling, “How much data should we collect for our dissertation research?” Dr. Bealer would reply, “As much as you must and as little as you dare” (p.79). I can remember my own dissertation chair – Dr. John Adams – providing very similar sage advice.

I am very much enjoying Bob’s book. I’m only 1/4 of the way through it, so do not be surprised if other great snippets emerge later.