From the elsewhere files, a collection of things I find compelling and interesting around the web, comes this TED talk. TED are a series of conferences highlighting technology, education and design. They are often anchored by big thinkers who give memorable, stylized, passionate presentations on various topics. You may recall Simon Sinek's Golden Circle TED talk I shared here.

In this talk, Barry Schwartz discusses what he perceives as the loss of practical wisdom.

From the TED site:

Barry Schwartz makes a passionate call for "practical wisdom" as an antidote to a society gone mad with bureaucracy. He argues powerfully that rules often fail us, incentives often backfire, and practical, everyday wisdom will help rebuild our world.

Do yourself a favor, watch at least the first 5 minutes. Schwartz begins his presentation by talking about the job description of a hospital janitor. He lists off the various functions - cleaning, mopping, removing trash - and notes not a single aspect of the job mentions interacting with humans. Yet why do some janitors go above and beyond...cleaning rooms twice so family members notice, changing their sequence to keep a floor dry for a sock-footed patient?

I'm currently fixated on the idea of ownership, particularly in (you guessed it) healthcare. At Disney, everyone's job title is performer. When you are in the parks, doing your job, you are a performer. If you sweep up after the parade and don't have a smile on your face, how will that impact the family who traveled 12 hours in their minivan with 5 screaming kids? That smile matters. The folks at Planetree tell me one of their core concepts is everyone as a caregiver. Regardless of where you work in a healthcare organization, you are a caregiver. If you work in finance, your job is to provide patient care. You own the billing part of that patient's experience. If their bill is inaccurate or uses language which is incomprehensible, it adds stress to their healing process. You as a finance caregiver can prevent that.

Barry Schwartz's idea of practical wisdom includes that sense of ownership, caring and passion about whatever it is you do. When we put processes in place or overly complicate the work place, we stifle people's natural ability. We suffocate their own internal mechanisms to treat people the way they would wish to be treated. Incentives aren't the answer either.  Schwartz goes on to say: "excessive reliance on incentives demoralizes people." Instead, he suggests we celebrate moral examples and moral heroes.

A specal thinks to Lisa Fields (who's twitter handle is inspired by Barry's video) who shared the video with me as well as Ann Petry and Joel High from Planetree for conversations which inspired this post.

Watch the video below or on the TED site here.