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On the power of spontaneous collisions: preserving culture and effectiveness in the pandemic
  1. James K Stoller
  1. Education, Cleveland Clinic, Cleveland, Ohio, USA
  1. Correspondence to Dr James K Stoller, Education, Cleveland Clinic, Cleveland, OH 44195, USA; STOLLEJ{at}


In the pivot to virtual interaction imposed by the coronavirus pandemic, some benefits have been realised, for example, time savings from avoiding commuting, the efficiency of back-to-back virtual meetings, needing to dress only from the waist up for work and so on. Yet, we also experience significant loss when our interactions are largely confined to being virtual. Specifically, spontaneous interactions between colleagues, what might be called ‘collisions,’ and their benefits are lost. Such collisions occur, for example, when we bump into a colleague while walking to or from a meeting and so on. These collisions are the nexus for maintaining connectivity between colleagues and can be a forum for creative exchanges that may lead to innovation and enhanced organisational effectiveness. Citing the experience of ‘bootlegging’ of time as a feature of organisations that thrive on innovation, this commentary discusses the value of spontaneous collisions in the healthcare environment. Given the persistence of virtual interaction throughout the pandemic and likely, to at least some extent thereafter, countermeasures to preserve spontaneous interaction in a virtual world and to maintain connectivity among colleagues are proposed. Awareness of the threats posed by a fully virtual experience and of these countermeasures are useful leadership attributes.

  • performance
  • clinical leadership
  • management

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  • Contributors The author is solely responsible for the entire content of this manuscript.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.