It's great advice for anyone attempting to solve a big, messy problem - politicians, entrepreneurs, and healthcare staff, among others.
It's also a phrase I've heard often during my year working at SpellBound. It's a mantra here. Most of us know there should be a better solution for 99% of what goes on in healthcare. But the point is not focusing on developing that solution and handing it over to an overwhelmed and struggling system. It is better to focus on understanding the problem from all angles: from that of the overworked nurse, the distraught patient, the worried family member, the frustrated doctor, the pinched administrators. Only by understanding the ecosystem around the problem will we ever be able to provide a solution that is adoptable.
When we choose trying to understand, we also don't blame others if our solution isn't adopted. We are open to the idea that there might be something missing or another level of understanding we haven't yet explored.
I imagine the certified child life specialists who use SpellBound can relate to the phrase too. When you have a child who won't listen to anything you say because she just wants to be back at school with her friends, having the right explanation of her medical procedure won't matter...not nearly as much as trying to understand the pain she feels will. Listening to the patient, being with her, that's how progress is made.
It reminds me of this incredible touching video the Cleveland Clinic put out:
"It's not about being right. It's about understanding."
That's the message I hear at SpellBound and the one we're trying to act on everyday.