George’s Corner  

<!–– Potpourri* ––>

I told the Lockwoods
that I wanted to wait until after the election before writing my next column. I have waited. The election is over. I am a fourth-generation proud Californian. I am one of the voters who were disappointed. My local daily newspaper has three front-page stories today. All three are trying to examine what might occur over the next few years. I’m not going to do that. I believe that times of change are times of opportunity. We will have lots of opportunities ahead. Let’s all focus on finding them and working on them.

So, having said what I am not going to say, what is this column going to be about?

*Potpourri: A miscellaneous collection. In this case a collection containing a variety of things to think about as we move forward.

In the ‘60s I had a boss who was more of a mentor than a boss. He was a physician in charge of a group of four or five health professionals who were creating all of the rules for California’s Medicaid program. We had a lot of fascinating and difficult things to work on. One day I went into his office and said, “I have a problem.” He immediately responded with, “I don’t need any more problems. I need solutions. Come back when you have a solution.”

That is a strong message. Everyone who has a boss (we all do) needs to understand the implications of that message. Go to work on the problem. When you have a solution, take it to your boss and present both the problem and the solution. If there is more than one solution, decide which one is the best, and tell your boss the best one — always ready to discuss alternatives if needed.

No matter where you are, there will always be problems to work on. However, I prefer to phrase it a bit differently: There will always be solutions to create.

  • It looks like our future will have a significant need for solutions.
  • It is often said that the experts should make the decisions.
  • Who are the experts?
  • “An expert is a person who knows more and more about less and less, until becoming the ultimate expert who knows everything about nothing.”

Don’t become an ultimate expert. Always be willing to listen, as well as willing to share your expertise. Listening is the most important part of a conversation. Everyone needs to listen to what others have to say. That is the only way to create solutions that work — work because as many factors as possible have been included in the solution.

Write. As I graduated from pharmacy school (1961), I clearly remember being so happy that I was not going to have to write any more term papers. I was also a bit ambitious and wanted to move up in my profession. I soon got a job running the pharmacy in a small but ambitious hospital. Within a couple of months I found myself writing term papers.

I had presented an idea to my boss (another mentor) a couple of times, and he said, “You don’t understand something unless you have written it down.” I went back to my desk and started writing. About halfway down the first page I realized that my idea would not work. Writing forces one to think through the subject. Without the writing process, all one has is a half-baked idea.

Technology is going to generate solutions that will impact what we do. To my mind there are two major areas: artificial intelligence and automation.

Artificial intelligence is going to help us make decisions. As it gets better, our decisions should get better. The question is, where does it take over, and who controls it? Those are big questions that will need lots of writing to understand, as well as innovative solutions.

Automation will take over many functions. Anything that is routine for you will rapidly become routine for a machine. Pharmacists and others who work in pharmacies do a lot of routine things. Need I say more?

All of these reactions to, and creations of, change will take term paper type development and analysis. They cannot be dealt with using T-shirt, bumper sticker, and baseball cap slogans. It’s time to get out your thinking cap, writing device, and communication talents. There are movers and shakers and those who are moved and shaken. Which one are you?

A Political Note

It’s not about who you voted for. It’s about what you are going to do now that the votes have been counted. If your candidate won, what are you going to do to help those promises be responsibly fulfilled? If your candidate lost, what are you going to do to responsibly stop those promises being fulfilled? CT

George Pennebaker, Pharm.D., is a consultant and past president of the California Pharmacists Association. The author can be reached at; 916/501-6541; and PO Box 25, Esparto, CA 95627.