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Op-Ed: Interdisciplinarity

Op-Ed: Interdisciplinarity

et me take you back to the time, when we were the new kids on the block at Zurich Kreuzplatz. Word of mouth drove more and more customers to us and as I was Chief Executive, Chief-Coach, Chief-Copywriter, Chief-Cleaning Professional, the list goes on… aka the only person working at AURUM. I knew everything about these first 100 clients. And I mean everything, from our health intake form to casual conversations in between exercises I could learn a wealth of information on their lifestyle and health related woes. I had the luxury to spend 1 hour in the beginning and then 20 Minutes a week for months with clients and would naturally consume potentially relevant pieces of information. That is a luxury doctors simply don´t have.  

This high intensity training cannot be healthy!

One day my phone rings…

“Hello this is Julian from AURUM, how can I help?”

“Grüezi, I am Dr. Swiss, I am calling because I am concerned about my patient Mr. Swissman. He has high blood pressure and is feeling a bit dizzy since he started doing your, what is it called, high intent training? Maybe its not healthy for him? So, I told him to temporarily stop doing such strenuous activity and see if the symptoms go away. But, he insisted I call you.”

“Oh hi Dr. Swiss, that is very kind of you. What do you think could be the reason for his dizziness?”

I had no idea at that point, why he was feeling dizzy, I was just curious to learn more. The answer of the doctor:

“Well, his blood pressure was really low, when he came in for the consultation, which I cannot explain, as this patient has a history of high blood pressure, that´s why he is on blood pressure reducing medication”

I think as we spoke about it, it dawned on both of us. I shyly asked (after all this was a medical professional and I am just a self-taught exercise geek):

“Could it be that regular exercise of this intensity has lowered his blood pressure?” You know there is a study on this by the American council of exercise, may I send it to you?”

Effects of High Intensity Training on major cardio-vascular health markers

Long story short, he looked at the study concluded that the High Intensity Training had indeed lowered the systemic blood pressure so far, that one had to reduce the dosage of the drug. Today this patient is even drug free.

Sounds trivial in hind side, but the two of us in isolation wouldn´t have come to this conclusion. This doesn´t illustrate brilliance on my part and ignorance on the part of the doctor. It illustrates the power of the process. It is so powerful, when people work in interdisciplinary teams together. Everyone in the group has their unique perspective and each individual fills in the blind spots in the thinking steps (Shoot out to my girl Martullo) of the others. In isolation the datapoints of everyone is just noise, combined and it becomes actionable information. This leads to real transfer knowledge for the group as a whole and a true synthesis of all available information.


Is a process made famous by software development teams. In a nutshell, teams following this process consist of all individuals and their professions needed to get the job done (i.e. programmers, system architects, designers). Secondly, they cut the whole project into small steps called sprints. Third, they meet every morning to quickly communicate progress and potential blockers and fourth, they show the result of their sprint to stakeholders (i.e. the patient and his family in our example above). It was shown to produce twice the quality in half the time. One person is overseeing the process and acts as a referee, he is called the scrum master. All Silicon Valley firms use this system today.

The old way of organizing project teams, the so-called waterfall method, is know to lead to poor quality and budget overspending in the same timeframe.

An organization that is famous for their waterfall method is Nasa. In this process you think about the development of a new solution in clearly defined steps, where one step has to be finished before the next can begin. There is no room for iteration and testing. Most critically there is very limited communication of the individual experts in their field, from designer to software programmer to the person checking the mini bar on board. There is very limited feeding back of newly learned information into an earlier step in the process. Add time pressure and political motivation and you have a recipe for disaster, which is portrait in “Challenger the final Flight” by Netflix pretty accurately.

From the investigations in the aftermath of the catastrophe:

[...] What it found was a stunning lack of communication—almost as if officials had been playing a game of broken telephone, with the result that incomplete and misleading information reached NASA’s top echelons. [...]

Sounds familiar, from the story of the heart patient above? You need to make sure, that the relevant information on your health is taken into account by the people involved in it. Doctors, trainers, etc.

Take mission control

Consequently, who is the scrum master for your health? Who makes sure alle the experts talk with each other? Its you! No one else will do it for you, you have to educate yourself about things that can improve your health and what alternative methods are out there in case you really need it. Or at least know who to ask for sincere, unbiased advice, if such a miracle creature even exists. The good old family doctor cannot do it for you anymore, as illustrated in the story from the beginning. You don’t have to be an expert but need to understand this basic framework:

Civilization illnesses are called civilization illnesses for a reason, they are caused by civilization. What do we mean by that?

  1. Too much sugar in our standard diet --> Check out our food roadmap
  2. Too many of the wrong calories --> Check out our blog on fat
  3. Too little joy-full movement --> Check out our 6 minute guide to wellbeing
  4. Too little High Intensity Training --> Check our our blog on sugar burn
  5. Too little sleep --> Check our our sleep webinar
  6. Too many stressors (Phone, Job, Money, artificial light, little sleep, bad sleep)
  7. Go back to the way things used to be and you will feel amazing, keep penicillin and modern acute medicine though

In treatment of chronic disease, modern medicine only looks for Anti. Antidepressant, Anti-inflammatory drugs and Anti baby pill. The last one sound very scary for a reason. I love working on the cause not the symptom, the later is a sisyphean task and I hate those.

If you have read this, you also hate this and are already working on root causes not symptoms, keep going.

Life is so rich,


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