He attended an elective on Ethnography during his MBA. It was quite an unusual course for an MBA program. But he loved it. The insight it provided about how organizations evolve and how managers are biased toward certain decisions was unparalleled. It was particularly noteworthy for him because of one case study.
In late 1970s, at the Mass. General Hospital, there was a very strange trend at play. Only about 30% of all the critically ill patients that were treated by male doctors survived, while about 60% of such patients treated by female doctors survived. Why were female doctors performing twice as well as the male doctors? Were they better trained and/or more experienced? For some time, the authorities couldn’t decipher the riddle. The correlation, though, was strong enough to encourage authorities to hire more female doctors and ensure that critically ill patients only went to them.
In the same time period as the class, he was reading Sheryl Sandberg’s ‘Lean In,’ which makes an argument that since Corporate Boards with higher percentage of female members tend to add more shareholder value, companies must employ increase female representation. He was never too convinced with the argument. He had believed that like in most cases, here too, a strong correlation creates mythical causations. May be he was just a chauvinist!
Let’s go back to the Mass. Gen. Case for a moment. After few months of research, it was discovered that the reason more critically ill patients died when treated by a male doctor was because these doctors were required to wear a necktie, which seldom gets washed. The patients were contracting germs from these neckties.
Huh! Makes you wonder, doesn’t it!