I was reading an interesting article on medical diagnosis in the New York Times magazine this weekend. The article was about how 5 doctors had failed to diagnose a simple ailment despite the telltale symptoms on the patients legs and ankles. Yet, when the patient met with a specialist, her illness was instantly recognized. Here's the paragraph that caught my attention:
When we teach residents and medical students, we teach diagnosis as if it were a methodical process that moves from symptom to disease identification in a thorough, careful and logical manner. But the best diagnosticians often move from presentation to diagnosis in an instant, bypassing the reason and logic with an almost instantaneous recognition of the pattern of a disease.
Venture capitalists often talk about their desire to fund serial entrepreneurs. We also talk about the incredible value of domain expertise. I think this paragraph vividly captures the reason for our appreciation of both those characteristics. With experience and expertise, entrepreneurs are able to instantaneously recognize the patterns of disease and prescribe a cure. No early stage company I know has ever managed to succeed without growing ill every once and again -- a experienced doctor in the house is invaluable.