Saturday, January 15, 2011

Why Would ANYone Work for House??

Lately I've been watching House in earnest. The basic storyline is this: A doctor with a genius for diagnosis is allowed an improbable amount of freedom to perform expensive, dangerous and often unnecessary procedures on largely uninsured people. Scarcely an episode goes by where a patient isn't given an MRI, a complete physical diagnostic and blood workup and brought back from the dead twice.

Once these standby plot points are gotten through, the treatment generally branches out into dialysis, a heart or brain biopsy, or the unnecessary removal of either the liver, spleen or lymph nodes before they finally figure out the magical pill that will cure the patient completely of the extremely rare parasite they picked up from eating a brazil nut.

By the time Dr. House has saved their life, they owe at least $600,000.00 to the hospital.

The show is saved from being completely farcical by interesting characters and great dialog. In fact, my early objections to the show had nothing to do with the regular malpractice that occurs on the show and more with how Dr. House treats his team. Or, more properly phrased, what his team puts up with.

"No one would ever put up with that!" I thought in amazement the first time I watched the show. Particularly not Dr. House's team, extremely competent doctors in their own right who could work anywhere.

Even the ones who quit tend to stick around.

It bothered me because it upset my pet theories about good management and motivation so I kept watching. In every episode, Dr. House is uniformly rude and disrespectful to his entire team and forces them to perform menial tasks at all hours while he sleeps or gets drunk.

And yet...
  • Dr. House's team knows no admin or process. They have creative freedom and can focus on the job rather than paperwork.
  • They work on intriguing puzzles. I can imagine the average doctor gets a bit tired of broken arms, cancer and overweight smokers with diabetes.
  • The team is world class and if you're that good there's attraction in working with others as good as you.
  • They work as a team and are constantly learning new things.
  • Dr. House treats them all badly so there's no favoritism or incentive to withhold information for personal gain.
  • Common suffering can strengthen close relationships. While Dr. House's treatment is sometimes divisive, for the most part the team is a tight unit.
  • Dr. House occasionally acknowledges a good idea, recognition that carries more weight for its rarity.
  • Dr. House really is that good. He solves problems no one else can solve, which makes his insufferable personality more... sufferable.
And I got to thinking:

How many talented people would put up with an awful boss if they could say good bye to bureaucracy and red tape, work with a world class team, and solve interesting problems?

Mystery solved.


  1. There it is The House Post! Good Job. Talk to ya soon.

  2. fun - makes me want to watch it Laura :)


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