Leave Your Ego at the Door and Learn: An Interview with Dr. Terri Steinberg

A couple weeks ago, we introduced you to Terri Steinberg, MD, MBA, FACP, FAMIA as Medecision’s new Group Senior Vice President of Analytics and Population Health and Chief Medical Officer. 

Today, I’d like to introduce you to Terri Steinberg, BOLD leader. Terri and I had a conversation shortly before she officially joined Medecision, and her enthusiasm for big – creative – thinking, innovation, and problem solving was evident from the first thing she said. 

Terri: “I’m easily bored. I’m always thinking about a better way to do things, a more efficient way to do things, a more impactful way to do things.  And I’m always thinking about the big picture.”

BOLD leaders are curious, use their deep empathy skills, build trust, and are confident and inspire confidence in others.   

Terri: “I think people who are innovative are easily bored—reasonably capable and easily bored. So as soon as you conquer this hurdle, you want to see the next one. I also think it’s a question of being a systems thinker. You have to be able to see all the gears that are interacting with one other in order to see the entire ecosystem.”

Terri also loves working with a diverse team to identify and solve next opportunities, so I asked her how she translates her vision or ideas into something others can attach to, own, and help create.

Terri: “[These BOLD characteristics] are not obvious. Especially empathy and trust, but these are important characteristics. I’ve always thought that you have to meet people where they are.  You can’t make them come to you.  You have to understand the language that they are speaking, and you have to communicate in that language. In order to get your message across, you need to make sure that they can hear you.”

I asked for a couple examples. Terri described one success and one failure. The success happened when she was tapped to build “the next generation EMR.” To get her started, her boss handed her a how-to book on product management. She assembled a team of 12 people who, as Terri described, “represented all the parts of the elephant – data centers, product, marketing, sales, development, you name it.” In a week-long offsite they started with the marketing materials FIRST (instead of often the last thing folks think about). The marketing materials established the vision of what they were about to create for real, so they could then move on to the business goals, requirements, features and all the operating elements that had to be built. From this first success the team grew and took on new product challenges.

The failure, Terri says, happened because, “I failed. Because I stopped reminding people about the big picture. One day I realized… we forgot to build the most important part of the product. And that was the predictive modeling. In my head, I thought we did it. So that was a really important lesson for me to learn—that you have to keep saying the simple message—distill what you’re trying to do into a mantra.”

She continued, “It’s the team’s job to execute. You have to give people toolkits. You can’t just tell them what to do. You have to give them the tools and the capabilities to do it. It’s my job to draw the picture and make sure people can do their jobs.”

I asked Terri if she was born BOLD—whether she had always known she had these skills to see differently and enroll others in her ideas. 

Terri: “I may have always had the ability; I did not have the awareness. My father taught me I could do anything. He taught me a number of really important things. They were hard learned. When I told my mother who is 94 years old about this new job [with Medecision] and how happy and proud and delighted I was, I said I probably wouldn’t have ended up here if dad hadn’t taught me all these lessons.”

Here are some of those lessons:

  • Seeing something in a different way is not a bad thing. It might mean everyone else is wrong.
  • Even if you are wrong, it’s still important to draw your own conclusions instead of looking around the room to see which way the wind is blowing.
  • The flip side is you have to also be willing to change your mind.

Terri: “There is no shame in being wrong. It’s a discussion, it’s a conversation, and you leave your ego at the door and you learn.”

I feel fortunate to have the opportunity to work with Terri and to see firsthand what she and her team accomplish as they drive consumer intelligence, data science and insights for Medecision and our clients—all essential if we collectively are to be successful at transforming healthcare. Knowing she’s on the case gives me great confidence.

Some questions for your consideration:

  • When were you last wrong? What did you learn from it? How did it change what you did next?
  • When you’re in a room and “group-think” is taking hold, what do you or can you ask to provoke more interesting, creative ideas?

Hear part of the conversation between Dr. Steinberg and Chris here:

As the first Aveusian to work in the U.S., Asia and Europe, Chris has a unique perspective on how leaders drive material and positive outcomes in today’s global marketplace.