Using Over a Decade of Harvard Research to Identify Who Can Succeed (& Improve Your Own Odds)

Sherri Douville
3 min readMar 19, 2023

A great article by this Harvard researcher explains her decade of research on what distinguishes successful people and organizations in the current and future environment. They are made evident through their collaboration capabilities. Though the article also doesn’t convey how hard and costly collaboration is. Collaborative work costs enormous resources, infrastructure, energy, skills, & time even though it’s life and company changing, as well as rewarding. Therefore, it pays to be thoughtful about the skill level of potential collaborators in estimating the juice vs the squeeze. A lot of professionals and therefore organizations fail to understand that they themselves cost collaboration overhead of management. It is the rare professional or organization who delivers exceptionally beyond their collaborative overhead costs to really contribute to return on collaborative management overhead. Collaboration is necessary but beware. My personal goal is to build 50 industry leaders by my 50th birthday who are all themselves masters of multidisciplinary collaboration because that is how we will transform our industry as quickly as possible while supercharging our company, Medigram.

In medicine, all success flows through working groups and programs whether it is quality improvement, clinical service line development and improvement, and related financial and regulatory successes as explained here:

Here are lessons we have learned designing and standing up collaboration over dozens of work-streams & sub projects, cross functional by necessity:

  • Design the team: identify the skills and competencies needed to deliver on the task using talent optimization.
  • Identity and engage required skills and competencies
  • Stand up the team’s structure in which they’ll operate
  • Run the working group
  • Identify stakeholders
  • Define success relative to stakeholders
  • Establish norms
  • Establish shared values & culture:
  • Establish expectations
  • Establish objectives
  • Determine roles and responsibilities leveraging talent optimization
  • Motivate the teams
  • Deliver on your objectives
  • Celebrate your success

In a medical technology context, collaboration with subject matter experts is critical and challenging because someone (the CEO) has to take responsibility for the enormous collaborative management overhead. That challenge has two parts:

  1. The assigned leader for any program portfolio, project, or sub project has literacy for the subject matter but defers to the subject matter expert, SME in their area of expertise. Like primary care consulting to cardiology.
  2. The culture expects and values the capability of orchestrating the SME’s, the latter who have historically been rewarded professionally by knowledge levels as individual contributors but not for their collaboration capabilities. Bluntly, SME’s can often lack experience and skills in teamwork as a contributor or leader. This is a huge pain point in medicine/medical technology. Please share your findings and solutions.

Harvard career expert: The №1 ‘desirable skill’ that very few people have —

By Sherri Douville, CEO at Medigram, the Mobile Medicine company. Recognized in 8 categories of top CEOs by Board Room Media (Across SMS, mHealth, iOS, IT, Database, Big Data, Android, Healthcare). Top ranked medical market executive worldwide and #1 ranked in mobile technology categories (mhealth, iOS, Android), #1–2 (on any given day) for the cybersecurity market in the U.S. on Crunchbase. Best selling editor/author, Mobile Medicine: Overcoming People, Culture, and Governance & Advanced Health Technology: Managing Risk While Tackling Barriers to Rapid Acceleration, Taylor & Francis; Series Editor for Trustworthy Technology & Innovation + Trustworthy Technology & Innovation in Healthcare. (contracted to advise top academic and professional education publisher Routledge, Taylor & Francis).

Sherri is the co-chair of the IEEE/UL JV for the technical trust standard SG project for Clinical IoT in medicine, P2933. She is passionate about redefining technology, software and data for medicine and advanced health technologies in a way that’s worth the trust of clinicians, our family, and friends. Ms. Douville leverages her books to inform her work on the CHIMECDH security specialization certification. She also advises and co-founded the Cybersecurity curriculum for the Black Corporate Board Readiness and Women’s Corporate Board Readiness programs at Santa Clara University.