“Sham surgery”: believing you had surgery when in fact you did not is an incredible construct. It’s simply amazing that placebo surgeries work, as demonstrated in a landmark study. Patients with arthritis of the knee scheduled for arthroscopic surgery were prepped for their operation, put under anesthesia, and the first incisions were made. But only some patients received the actual procedure. The control group received no arthroscopic procedure, and yet the recovery of those placebo patients was identical to those that actually had the procedure done.
How can this be? The placebo effect is not just some idea plucked out of the sky. It works when empathy is shown and felt. It works when people FEEL cared for. When a person has a FEELING of empathy from their caregiver it changes their experience into one of healing. When your caregiver or doctor—or boss—shows that they care and empathize, your experience becomes that of the healed, and your body and mind respond in kind.
The idea that beliefs do have physical manifestations is still a remarkable concept, and when you think about how to apply this concept to your organization, it becomes clear how powerful beliefs are to drive outcomes. If empathy can make someone healed, you can surely make that failing project better with a more empathetic approach.
All that heals is medicine, no matter the method.