October 22, 2020
by James Yacyshyn
“There is nothing permanent except change.” This is a quote I was introduced to at a young age, and it has stuck with me. It is commonly attributed to the Greek philosopher Heraclitus. I think the reason it resonates with me is that it helps me accept that no matter what the situation, things will always change. By accepting this, it becomes our role to face those changes. How we accept that challenge is key.
There is no doubt the world is facing a lot of challenges, and change right now. Dealing with COVID, the economy, political stress, changes in activities and routines, amongst so many issues, leaving us much to manage. These issues can affect our health, our relationships, and our livelihoods.
So, how do we best cope with change? Why is it that some people seem really upset and unhinged by challenges, and others manage them completely differently? It’s a fascinating question. How one person faces adversity can be completely different to another. How do we adapt? Just as we start to think about how we handle change individually, it becomes even more interesting to assess how groups manage change. With additional people in the equation, now you need to understand group dynamics as well.
With individual or personal change, various resources will direct you to having a clear vision or idea of what it is that you want to change. They will also focus you on thinking about the pace of change, measuring results as you progress towards your goal, taking care of yourself along the way, and keeping a positive mindset. Dealing with organizations and groups of people is no different.
As a dentist, it is important to understand how to facilitate and support change with the individuals, and groups you lead. Whether it is a clinical or procedural change, due to a new or disruptive technology, or, something impacting the entire office, like COVID has, changes in the dental profession are constant. Developing ones skills, ability, and tolerance for managing these changes is important. Fortunately, the field of organizational development, and change management, has many resources for doing this.
Change management as defined by Wikipedia is as follows: “Change management (sometimes abbreviated as CM) is a collective term for all approaches to prepare, support, and help individuals, teams, and organizations in making organizational change. Drivers of change may include the ongoing evolution of technology, internal reviews of processes, crisis response, customer demand changes, competitive pressure, acquisitions and mergers, and organizational restructuring. It includes methods that redirect or redefine the use of resources, business process, budget allocations, or other modes of operation that significantly change a company or organization. Organizational change management (OCM) considers the full organization and what needs to change, while change management may be used solely to refer to how people and teams are affected by such organizational transition. It deals with many different disciplines, from behavioral and social sciences to information technology and business solutions.”
By studying change management, we can advance our skills in facing the ever changing world. There are many resources available, online and in print. There are weekend courses and entire major programs of study for individuals with such interest. Our ability to manage change may be one of the most important skill sets that we develop, over a career in Dentistry. Those skills are equally important in all parts of our life.
About the Author
Dr. James Yacyshyn obtained his Bachelor of Science degree, with honours, from the University of Alberta. He then obtained his Doctorate of Dental Surgery degree, with Distinction, from the University of Alberta. Upon graduation, he went on to pursue and complete a Masters in Applied Science Engineering, from the University of Toronto. Dr. Yacyshyn joined the Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry, as an Assistant Clinical Professor. He was appointed Director of Continuing Dental Education, and had cross appointments to the Alberta Research Council and Faculty of Medicine.