How Risk Can Lead to Innovation

April 17, 2017
DMD Staff

Scott Parazynski, M.D., is the only astronaut to have also summited Everest. From his perspective, there is such a thing as being too risk-averse. Parazynski says that risk often forces us to rethink certain situations and how we approach them. Consequently, this also often leads to innovation.

Scott Parazynski, M.D., is the only astronaut to have also summited Everest. From his perspective, there is such a thing as being too risk-averse. Parazynski says that risk often forces us to rethink certain situations and how we approach them. Consequently, this also often leads to innovation.

Interview Transcript (Modified for Readability)

“I think it’s absolutely possible and I’ve seen examples of people being far too risk-averse. It’s important to have a vision of what you want to accomplish and to develop a plan to get there. There are certain objectives that may be a bridge too far, too overreaching, but I think it’s important to challenge ourselves always.

In the context of clinical care, I think it’s always important to be thinking about, are there ways in which we can do this better? Can we develop solutions that improve patient outcomes to minimize pain, reduce cost, the whole gamut of thinking about innovation. We always have to be asking the question, are there ways to do things better? And typically, that involves some risk. Doing something for the first time is inherently risky. Understanding what those risks are, asking questions, referring to colleagues, developing a multi-disciplinary team to look at the problem, is very important and has certainly led to a lot of innovation in my medical device practice.”

RELATED: Know Your Goals when Dealing with Risky Situations

“Having a core set of goals for your practice, or for whatever your pursuit is, is paramount. In the setting of an expedition, the ultimate goal is for everyone to come back healthy and as friends. It’s a pretty low bar, if you keep that in mind. In a dental practice or a clinical environment, you’re worrying about patient comfort and clinical outcomes. I’m certain that there are many examples where the case becomes more challenging, you realize that perhaps this is something beyond your level of training, and you need to refer to another specialist.”

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