My daughter is learning how to drive.
In the U.S., driving a car is almost part of our DNA. For most of us, we learn to drive in our late teens and then continue to drive for the majority of the rest of our lives. At some point, we sort of forget we had to learn how to do it. As a parent, I was reminded of the learning process when I recently had to teach my 16-year-old daughter.
“Left-right-left” was an early lesson I remembered after dusting off the cobwebs, and one of her first lessons from me. We did what most families do. We went to a vacant school parking lot on a quiet late Sunday afternoon. The multitasking of switching between using the gas and brake pedals, checking mirrors, and so on is best learned around as few obstacles as possible. As the sun went down, we practiced some other fundamentals like turning on your lights and using your high beams.
How quickly we forget about the fundamentals we once had to mind with such deliberate attention. It is hard for me not to draw constant parallels to my work with clinical research teams and how easy it is for anyone executing the same processes every day to take the fundamentals for granted. Left-right-left is a lesson in situational awareness and avoiding collisions. A “collision” in a clinical trial would be something like an inspection finding. As a fun exercise, here is how I combined these ideas: