Oral Health Group

Don’t React To Change, Anticipate It

April 1, 2000
by Jordan Soll, DDS

In his latest book Management Challenges for the 21st Century, renowned business consultant Peter F Drucker confirms that ” all that’s certain about the future is that it holds profound and unpredictable change.” In fact those who look forward to the future and embrace it with an open mind and the willingness to reject yesterday are referred to as “Change Leaders.” Mr. Drucker goes on to discuss such concepts as “the innovative organization” and “organized abandonment” and how the goal is not only to survive in this period of upheaval but to lead the change so that your organization can improve in a systematic fashion.

The most obvious way for an organization to move forward with clarity and direction is to assimilate a set of strategies, “that being any commitment of present resources to future expectations,” so that you and your team can visualize the direction in which your practice is to move. Strategies are customarily the result of a specific set of desired goals. It is the individuals who record their goals and modify them, as times change that are truly the “change leaders.” This concept of recording your goals and a corresponding action plan has been well documented. Yale graduates were asked in 1953 if they had a specific set of goals written down with a plan for achieving them. Only 3 percent had such goals recorded. Twenty years later, the class was interviewed-with surprising results. The 3 percent who had written down their goals were worth more in financial terms than the combined 97 percent. Subjectively the smaller group also seemed to be happier and more at ease. This study, which became known as the “Yale Study,” undoubtedly illustrated the power of goal-setting. In addition it became clear that without goal commitment there is only disappointment.


In our office success is within reach when the goal is divided into manageable tasks. This concept is well illustrated during the height of the Roman Empire. The military philosophy “Divide and Conquer” was the reason for Roman supremacy. Instead of trying to conquer large territories all at once, Roman Armies would defeat smaller regions, integrate them, then set their sites on their next acquisition. By identifying your three-year goals then focusing on your two-year and one-year goals, you will begin to see an overall approach for moving your practice forward. To maximize your effectiveness divide your year into 90 day cycles. If business can schedule their success in this manner we should follow in the same fashion. By taking more of a business approach to your practice, the role of a health care entrepreneur will become a natural one.

When recorded as Goal, Obstacle, Solution and corresponding Action Plan, goal achievement can be easy. It is the exercise of identifying the obstacles and solutions that will help to make the goal attainable. Your goals should be SMART:* Specific, Measurable, Action-oriented, Realistic, and Time-focused. As you plan daily, you will want to include activities that will lead to the accomplishments of each specified goal. One such goal that has been incorporated into our office with great results is the daily ritual of the “morning huddle.” If practiced on a regular basis, over time the benefits can be significant.

I have found through continuous reading that this approach to success, whether personally or professional, is not new. Authors such as Stephen Covey and Napoleon Hill have discussed these concepts for many years. However, because we have been so programmed to consider our practices from a micro point of view, we rarely step back to see the big picture and assemble an overall plan. It is the ability to look at your practice objectively so that you can examine every system in your office and decide if it is contributing to your success or merely an outdated policy that no longer produces results. According to Mr. Drucker, “the change leader must put every product, service, process and market on trial for its life.”

The future is inevitable not predictable, to ignore the changes and pretend that tomorrow will be like yesterday is futile. Consequently “some people make things happen, other people watch things happen, and some people wake up and say what happened?” Will you be a “Change Leader?”

Source: Day Timers Inc.

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