Glen Grunwald's Board Blog

Archive of the blog of the former President and CEO of the Toronto Board of Trade.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Pit Stops and Heart Surgery

Great little story today on the front page of National Post (couldn't find it on their website, just in the print edition) about how the world-famous children's hospital at Great Ormond Street in London learned how to save lives from Formula One race car mechanics.

Seems a couple of the surgeons had been putting in a very hard day doing emergency heart surgery on little children and they collapsed in front of the TV in their hospital lounge to watch a car race. They were watching how the pit stop crews work so quickly to perform a lot of complicated tasks at once when a light bulb went off -- maybe their operating room staff could use some of the same techniques when hooking up their complicated equipment?

Long story short ... they worked with some of the race crews and changed the way their surgical team hooks patients up to equipment. The number of problems they have with this complex procedure has nose-dived as a result. They're still doing a study to see how many children's lives have been saved.

So, that's how pit stops relate to heart surgery. But I think there's a deeper story here - how learning in one area of technology can be applied to another area, even when they're as diverse as auto racing and medicine.

That kind of knowledge sharing and cross-fertilization is something we can be doing a lot more of here in Toronto. We've got the third-largest Information & Communications Technology (ICT) sector in all of North America here ... tens of thousands of innovative minds thinking of new and better ways to use technology.

These people are just starting to get together in a more formal way, with groups like ICT Toronto and efforts by the City to boost their sector. Our Board is helping out, too -- we've formed an ICT Advisory Committee and we're starting a new Technology Innovators Breakfast Series to showcase success stories and help share ideas (our first breakfast is coming up Sept. 14 with Nadir Mohamed of Rogers Communications)

The more that people from different technology areas spend time with each other, the more they can be inspired. We don't have to wait for chance to bring diverse ideas together; we can be matchmakers or match-lighters that help spark new thinking.

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