Life in the emergency room is often like that in the business world. Both are places of activity and excitement, unexpected developments, highs and lows, crises, and great intensity. On the treatment table and in the boardroom, problems must be diagnosed correctly and dealt with as effectively and quickly as possible. Now in Management Lessons from the E.R.: Prescriptions for Success in Your Business, Paul S. Auerbach, M.D. -- a doctor of medicine and of companies -- shows exactly how a professional healer's thought processes can be applied to a business. The result is enlightening, occasionally lighthearted advice that goes far beyond other business management tomes, offering readers real and surprising lessons.
Applying such medical truisms as "The patient who isn't screaming may be the one in the most trouble" and "Don't count on luck," Dr. Auerbach provides prescriptions for solving all types of managerial emergencies. Using real-life experiences from his many years as an E.R. physician, COO of public and private medical management companies, and venture capitalist, he teaches executives how to prepare for and remain calm in difficult situations. In this unique book, he shows how responsibility, great expectations, and the impact of failure force doctors to be at the top of their game at all times. From assessing the first symptoms of a patient's or company's problem to determining the quickest and most effective means for treatment, Auerbach details the true-to-life pressures, fears, and challenges one faces both in acute care medicine and in the most vital actions of one's career, and does so with humor, style, and grace. The effect of this wisdom: the ability to deal with any business dilemma, whether it be a short-term setback or the beginning of a more serious condition. The prescriptions here are lessons for success in business and, at the same time, for success in life.
The premise is sound: life in the emergency room can be similar to life in the business world. Critical decisions often must be made quickly, and the penalty for reaching the wrong conclusion can be devastating. Auerbach, a professor of surgery in the emergency medicine division at Stanford University who also has extensive business experience as both chief operating officer of a medical management company and as a venture capitalist, would seem the perfect candidate for this book. But he fails to provide a useful framework for applying what he has learned in the emergency room to business situations. The author of Medicine for the Outdoors presents this material in a chapter-free, stream-of-consciousness fashion, resulting in a sequence of unlinked advice (e.g., the portion entitled "Sometimes Having to Keep Secrets Is Necessary" follows the one called "Golden Handcuffs Are Not Enough"). While there are occasional reflective insights ("when a problem arises, look for ordinary causes, not obscure configurations" and "stop talking and start listening to the patient"), many of Auerbach's prescriptions, such as "use metrics that make sense" are far too general to help most business people, leaving managers trying to heal themselves.