Every year I find myself reassessing and readdressing every system in my office. It’s even more important to remember that we have hundreds if not thousands of doctors that we work with yearly that also need to look at their systems afresh. We need to focus on systems this week and move forward. The world is changing at the speed of thought. We need new perspectives and the tools to meet every challenge in the form of adaptive systems in our offices. We must see and understand the patterns in the challenges we face, and design creative responses that move beyond just treating the symptoms of those challenges.
The basics of “systems design” lies in five simple but comprehensive areas that I would like to cover this week. A “How to Design Adaptive Systems 101”:
1. Scalability: Any system should, from its inception, have the ability to continue to work as you grow. The goal is to spend enough time in the beginning so that you don’t have to constantly change a system as you grow. Build in the ability for it to work at $70,000 a month or $250,000 a month with very little evolution. Nothing is more frustrating than having to start all over every few years. This requires benchmarking your systems to those of practices that far exceed your current capacity. Begin with the end in mind and you will find that each system will have the ability to be serviceable at just about any level.
2. Repeatable: Great systems are designed to anticipate the wide range of intelligence and adaptability of an ever-changing staff. If it can’t be repeated, it shouldn’t be a system, and you will need to go back to the drawing board. Reproducing a consistent result begins with a system that everyone can embrace and execute. The steps to any system are so intuitive and so compliment your office culture that it becomes a simple process to repeat.
3. Flexible: Systems bounce off every type of patient and situation you can imagine. They must be broadly based to appear to be flexible in every situation while consistent in their result. Systems that work are accepted by the public as consistent, understandable, and normal. They are so flexible that just about anyone can accept them.
4. Sustainable: This goes back to the longevity of the system. It should easily evolve as years go by to survive the disposable mentality we live in. They were so well thought out that we are a little surprised at how universal they have become in their flexibility and scalability.
5. All people are replaceable: In leadership, systems create the feet for your vision. The stark reality is that with a strong vision and the systems to support it, employees will be the weakest link. You will never go any further than the one employee with the lowest commitment to your vision. It is the weakest link theory. We, as leaders, must quickly eliminate any employee that cannot work under the systems we have designed to insure that our visions become reality.
Time marches on, and systems have to be a “top of mind” kind of thing. With great systems, things move seamlessly towards success. Without them, you flounder in mediocrity and daily stress. This is how you Summit.
Michael Abernathy, DDS