Just because there is a lot to know about management, does not make it a “complex” subject. It really isn’t. For that matter, when addressing a business (or really any) issue, if I find the “solution” to be too “complex” – I know I’m on the wrong track.
Boiled down to simplicity, business success consists of:
- Doing what works – as proven by statistics and/or real results that can, in turn, be openly demonstrated in the real, actual physical universe (as opposed to in someone’s opinion).
- Actively seeking, finding and using what works as outlined above if you don’t have a solution to a problem and
- Discontinuing and/or not engaging in actions that don’t work. I say “discontinuing” because in business, you’re inevitably going to have to try some new things. If you find they work – great – continue. There’s no shame in trying something new and seeing a poor outcome. I’ve done it and wear these errors as a badge of honor; my intentions were good, and I learned something. And most importantly, my management education and knowledge kept these errors to a minimum – i.e. they’ve happened infrequently, and I end up doing more “right” than “wrong” actions.And even more important, I’ve in most cases managed to avoid what I consider to be the MOST EGREGIOUS management error: perpetuating a bad decision. This is where it can all go wrong – when a manager allows something or someone that isn’t working (i.e. financial waste, a drain on the business, a non-productive employee, etc.) to CONTINUE unchecked. I’ll often tell clients the biggest error is not “hiring an employee that doesn’t work out,” but rather “keeping this employee who isn’t working out.” With any of these issues, how quickly this is recognized & remedied is critical.
- Regularly monitoring 1-3 above so that you are, for the most part doing what works.
Simplicity in practice management isn’t necessarily common sense
You could almost say that 1-4 above are just “common sense,” right?
If they were common sense, you would assume universal application of 1-4 above. Sure, you’d have exceptions, but this would be the rule and would rarely run into trouble or fail. That is of course unless the people involved failed to possess or temporarily vacated their “common sense,” which is also a possibility.
Belying this assumption: I’ve met many people, with plenty of common sense, who, despite all of this end up in a veritable mess business-wise…or otherwise.
Maybe we all innately disagree with keeping things simple. It’s boring, right? When things are more complex they are “interesting.” And I’m sure this contributes.
But there is another factor in business success: Training.
Your new associate, just out of school, is struggling with a procedure. It’s so bad they’ve called you in to have a look. What you see is a completely different picture. To you – the experienced dentist – you wonder “how could they have messed this up…it’s so simple.” And for you it is.
(Related: Suggestions on Training Your Staff)
I saw this the other day here at MGE. I’m talking with Sabri, my D/Chief Operating Officer. She’s in charge of all client delivery. She’s forgotten more than most will ever know about how to fix, expand, and handle the management aspect of a dental practice. To her a practice management issue with a client that a newer MGE employee, mid training, might find challenging is…. horrifically simple.
I could go on, but I think you see the thread. There’s a direct ratio between knowledge and understanding of any given area – and simplicity.
So, with this in mind, here’s my advice to keep your practice management simple and successful:
- If some area of your practice appears “complex,” or “unsolvable,” realize that you’re probably (hint…definitely) missing knowledge on the subject.
- Don’t be so proud or stubborn so as to avoid obtaining this knowledge. Don’t be that guy or girl that needs to hit themselves on the thumb with a hammer six times before they figure out that it’s a not such a good idea.
- Hold any knowledge you receive up to this test: Does it work? And again, let’s define this as something that works in the actual world – not in someone’s imagination. I’ve seen some pretty crap ideas that have been exceedingly “well-packaged.” What you’re after is a real-world RESULT. Does idea “X” result in product “Y” and can whomever is purveying this idea prove it? Can they show you products – i.e. others who have done it? If not, save your money and move on. Now, maybe it’s a new idea and you are patient zero. OK, if you’re game, just know that when you’re walking in, and that they outcome might be good, bad, or mediocre.
And the last two points:
- Beware of staying too “loyal” to your own creations. I’ll give you an example: You come up with a marketing idea. You LOVE it. You are SOOOO CERTAIN THIS IS GOING TO BE AWESOME… And…it fails miserably. You’re pretty sure the idea is sound (after all you thought of it or at least advocated for it), and…. despite its poor performance – you keep doing it. Be willing to be wrong. It’s OK. Have a laugh about it and do something else and
- When you have something that is working – DON’T STOP DOING IT. Big mistake. This mistake’s sibling is “dropping something that works for something new.” Any time you introduce something new, don’t drop what’s already working. If you’re trying a new marketing idea, don’t stop the marketing that is currently brining in new patients! Monitor the results. Maybe it’s better than what you’re already doing. Maybe it’s not. Maybe you want to move forward with both. Keep an eye out and make any decisions based on actual outcomes.
And with that I’ll close out this week’s post. Here’s to your success by sticking to what works and keeping things simple!