Friday, May 8, 2015

85 Percent of People Respond to Treatment; What If You're in the 15 Percent?

"85 percent of people respond to the treatment."

"The teaching technique improves learning for 79 percent of the students."

I remember hearing stats like these when I was in high school. I remember thinking, "What if I'm in the 15 or 11 percent? Am I just ignored?"

The answer then was yes. 

Plenty of research is deemed successful when an outcome is positive for, say, 60 or 70 percent of the participants or subjects. Certainly, we should be happy for achievements that do so much good for so many.

But, if 30 or 40 percent of people can't be helped by something that's "proven" to work, what good is that for them?

Technology is working to change that.

Personalized medicine would totally change the way we approach solutions. The same thing is happening in education with personalized learning.

It's a wonder we don't have more areas where we're working toward personalized approaches. Medicine and health make perfect sense, of course. Every body is different. Every diet is different. People have different DNA, blood types, allergies, and biomes in their gut. The medicine we put into different bodies can't possibly have the same effect on all of them. There are too many factors. 

If time and money allowed, it would make more sense to look at the person, their body, their cells, and work backward to create health solutions that were right for them. Instead, what we do now is come up with a product and tested on dozens or hopefully more like thousands of people and tinker with it until it has a positive effect on most of them.

"Most" isn't good enough for me.

We can and should be doing the same thing with learning. We should be doing something similar with work routines. We shouldn't assume that 40 hours of work per week, on a Monday through Friday, 9:00 to 5:00 schedule yields the best results for organizations or employees. It might work for some people, or even "most," but not all.


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