Healthcare


"I Want to See What You Do"

by Katherine Burns 16 Jan 2014
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Time for a secret: One of my favorite books is The Street Where I Live, by Alan Jay Lerner. It’s Lerner’s memoir of how he (in collaboration with Fritz Loewe) wrote My Fair Lady, Gigi, and Camelot (I really do love my golden age of musicals, I really do). I re-read it at least once a year.

It’s beautifully written: funny, poignant, honest, and incredibly witty. At the start of the book, he talks about his dad. The love he felt for his father is one of the truest parts of the entire memoir – you feel it in your gut when he talks about how much he misses his father.

Lerner lost his dad to throat cancer before he’d written any of the three shows (or films) that he discusses in his book. When his dad was getting very sick, and could no longer speak and had to write his part of conversations, he once wrote to Lerner, “You may wonder why I’m fighting so hard to hang on” (I’m paraphrasing). “Because I want to see what you do.”

I think this quote is in my top three of things that I’ve read that have deeply affected me and stayed with me. Especially now that I’m a parent, I find the words incredibly powerful. Anyway, I’ve been thinking about that a lot lately, because it has always struck me as something my dad would have said. And like Lerner, I really, really miss my dad.

Speaking of my dad, here are three things about him that have always made me smile:

  1. Any word you gave him, he could immediately spell it (and pronounce it!) backwards. I wish I had inherited this, because I strongly suspect it would make me more fun at parties.
  2. When he did crossword puzzles, he would add boxes to the puzzle to make room for the words he wanted to insert, because he usually believed his answers were right even when they were wrong. I’m not sure if I inherited this or not: I’m dreadful at crossword puzzles.
  3. He just loved being asked his opinion on things. When survey-takers would call the house, he would put his feet up and tuck in for a long talk (I’m pretty sure they were trying to get him to answer multiple-choice questions, but… remember, this is the man who wouldn’t conform to a crossword puzzle). I definitely got this from him –no matter what I am doing, I will always cheerfully share my preferences on grocery stores, political candidates, how much time I spend on the Internet… you name it. (I tend to answer the questions the way the survey-writer wanted me to, though – let’s be honest, my dad’s approach was idiotic.)

I’ve been thinking about that last one in particular lately, because I just wrote my very first survey! I’m on the other end of the deal now – rather than sharing my opinions, I’m inviting those of others. I find that to be rather poetic, and fun and different. Is something coming full circle for me here? I think maybe a little bit – mainly because inviting people to share their opinions with me is pulling me back to the quote I started with: I want to see what you do. I really do want to see what you do – I want to know what you’re thinking about and focusing on, because that helps me as a researcher to know what to think about and focus on, and I get really happy when I’m really understanding what you’re up to. Intellectual curiosity: something else I got from my dad.

Anyway, this survey I wrote is targeted to people who work in R&D and innovation. I’m particularly interested in learning how to align R&D priorities more tightly with those of the organization as a whole: Is this a common challenge? What about it is difficult? What would make it easier? Who could make it easier? Please, tell me what you do! Put up your feet, and take a few minutes to make your voice heard. If you need another inducement, here’s this: Anyone who participates in the survey will receive a copy of the finished report, so there’s some cool benchmarking there (and also, the more people who participate, the better the data set will be, which lifts all boats! Hooray for lifting all boats!).

The survey takes about 7 minutes to complete (you can’t even cheat at a crossword puzzle in 7 minutes, so I think it is an acceptable amount of time to spend on a survey).   You can find it here: http://bit.ly/1hiUMaK.

If you’re still reading, I guess that means you didn’t click on it yet (you’ll scroll back up once you’ve finished this blog, though, right?).

I’m through. Go take that survey!

Katherine is the Director of Strategic Communications for Growth Team Membership, a premier best practices research group within Frost & Sullivan. You can follow her on Twitter: @KatherineSBurns.

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