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Does your business suffer from Semmelweis reflex? | Alan FitzGerald | LinkedIn

Ignaz Semmelweis, a physician in the late 1800s, discovered that infant and mother mortality could be dramatically reduced simply by doctors washing their hands, something we take today for granted - he reduced mortality on his ward from over 18% to 0% in two months.  The result? Semmelweis was hounded out of the medical establishment for going against the accepted practice of the time. Whilst his methodologies reduced mortality and were ultimately proven by Louis Pasteur and Joseph Lister after his death, he was declared insane for reiterating his beliefs and committed to an asylum by his peers - nice guys huh..? 

The Semmelweis reflex can be defined as the almost immediate rejection of new evidence, knowledge or evidence contravening accepted knowledge.  

"That's the way we have always done it" are often cited as the most dangerous words in the language: Semmelweis went against the grain, was terribly punished for his view but was ultimately vindicated.  I am no Semmelweis, but I know some things to be true; there are better ways to manage tax, accounting and finance functions that in years to come organisations will look back and say:  "Alan was right you know....we should have done that sooner......"


Alan FitzGerald