Embracing the Change
“Cargo Cults” is an interesting term. During World War II, on the islands of the South Pacific, both the American and Japanese struggled to clear landing fields for their respective troops and supplies where only jungle existed. Shortly thereafter planes would begin to land bringing all the necessary goods to sustain the troops during their occupation: Shelters, food, equipment, and machinery. A strange thing began to happen. The indigenous peoples on many of the islands reasoned that if they also cleared the jungle the planes would come and give them everything they needed to flourish. This became so common it was referred to as “Cargo Cults”. A “build it and they will come” mentality. The natives, not understanding the science and level of expertise their unwanted neighbors had, falsely thought that all they had to do was copy what others were doing and they would magically solve all their problems.
A large percentage of practicing dentists seem to have joined the dental “cargo cult”. They begin their career by building the normal 6 op office in an area that is over populated with dentists, poor demographics, no business strategy, and just coast while waiting for someone else to magically appear and bring them the supplies and sustenance that they all need to survive. The dental economy has drastically changed in the last decade or so, and success will only go to those willing to quickly adapt by embracing change. As Dentistry slowly returns to some new normal the need to rebuild, renew, and re-engage has never been more important. Becoming a leader that has adapted to the “new norms” of the Dental profession is no longer an option, but a necessary survival strategy in today’s marketplace. “When the pain of remaining the same is greater than the pain of change, it is then that we finally commit to what we have instinctually known for quite a while.”
Overall, there are three types of change: Change by crisis, change by drift, and change by design. To build a new and improved culture to meet the new and enhanced needs of our patients, we need to design/build our team. You have each faced looking at change as you travel the road of The 180 Degree Dental Journey.
Change by design:
I think we are all done with change by crisis, so let’s focus on change by design. The first step in building your team is called forming, and that means looking at every player and determining the right seat for him or her on the bus, as author Jim Collins points out in his book Good to Great. We have always encouraged our coaching clients to trade up to the talent that is going to get you where you need to be. If you haven’t yet, do it now. You can no longer keep mediocre employees. Success is a game of inches and everything matters.
Storming: Facilitating and debating the changes necessary to get to where you are headed. Keep in mind that having the right team is far more important than the direction you are headed, because with the right team, anywhere is possible. Think the Staff Owned Practice from my book The Super General Dental Practice (SGDP). Read Patrick Lencioni’s book: The 5 Dysfunctions of a Team.
Norming: Getting everyone aligned to a common cause, purpose, or direction. This is where the traction begins (The Purpose Driven Practice from SGDP). You should move to “norms” of integrity, respect, faith, teamwork, and commitment. True leadership is where the norms are established, communicated, understood, and measured for success every day.
Performing: This happens to be my favorite and begs the question: What incentive programs do you have in place to make sure that not only engagement, but also rewards for excellence are in play? Once again, read and refer to the chapter on bonus systems in The Super General Dental Practice.
The best part about a success story is the momentum that it creates: A belief that they can, when united in a common cause, inspired by great leadership, and supported by other team members, accomplish great things. Who doesn’t want this? This is the ultimate goal in The 180 Degree Dental Journey.
Mike Abernathy, DDS