Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center
CEO Minute: Beware the Dangers of Overconfidence

CEO Minute: Beware the Dangers of Overconfidence

CEO Minute: Beware the Dangers of Overconfidence- image0I guess it is human nature to think highly of ourselves and of the organizations we represent. Perhaps this is a good thing — confidence goes a long way. But, sometimes our high opinion of ourselves leads to complacency. Certainly, it is not healthy to have an inferiority complex. However, if we could just see our organization and ourselves as we really are — while it might be disconcerting in some respects — it could also be terrific in other ways. For example, it very likely would drive change and motivate us.

The great Scottish poet Robert Burns said it best, ”O would some power the gift give us to see ourselves as others see us.”

So, in this context, an article on a new study suggesting that health care folks may give themselves higher marks than they deserve for quality of care caught my eye. After examining 47 patient records, Dutch researchers found a significant gap between the quality of care discovered by independent experts and the quality of care providers thought they delivered.

We have seen this in the simple but critical act of hand washing and the reporting thereof. When people are asked how they are doing on hand washing, “Oh, we are 98 to 100 percent compliant.” But, using trained observers or by asking patients to report, the number drops down to the 60 to 70 percent range. This is not just at TTP. It is nationwide. I do not think people intentionally overstate performance, it just happens. Must be some sort of ego protection mechanism.

Why is this worth noting? I am not trying to make anyone feel bad. I am saying, very simply, if we overrate our quality performance we are not going to improve and that is not a good thing. Therefore, I will remind us all, myself especially, that humility is the mother of all virtues.