One of my favorite movies is Stanley Tucci’s 1996 hit, The Big Night. The movie resonated with me. It’s the story of two brothers who open an Italian restaurant at the Jersey shore. They continually squabble about how the business should run. Primo (Tony Shaloub) is the perfectionist chef and Segundo (Stanley Tucci) is the businessman. I identified because a dental practice and an Italian restaurant have a lot in common…they are both small businesses, they serve the public and they run on the philosophy of the owner/technician. Take a look at the clip I supplied to get a feel for the movie.
The problem with many small businesses that fit these parameters is something that has been called in business: silos, or a lack of collaboration between the parts. Sometimes those parts are within the same person (mindset), or between the various departments of the business (operations, finance, marketing), or between the suppliers (labs).
The Internet provided me with the following definition of silos in business:
A silo mentality can occur when a team or department shares common tasks but derives their power and status from their group. They are less likely to share resources or ideas with other groups or welcome suggestions as to how they might improve. Collaboration in a business culture with silos among teams or departments will be limited, unless collaboration benefits the members of the department. In addition, the members of a silo tend to think alike. They get their power from association with their function and their shared technical knowledge.
Let’s talk about the third one…labs and the silo mentality.
There is a common scenario that occurs in many dental practices that has been going on for time immemorial. When something goes wrong…blame the lab. If dentists get to hear the other side they wouldn’t like it. This is how silo mindset works. Blame the invisible man…for the sake of the patient.
It’s one thing to lack collaboration, but quite another to start the blame game. Eventually blame leads to major stress. We all have been guilty of the silo mentality if we run a small business.
Each department in a small business is critical to the final outcome. Total collaboration is a must.
If anyone drops the ball, we all suffer.
So what is the root cause of the silo mentality? I believe that reductionist thinking causes us to look for simple answers when something complex occurs.
In other words the coordination, and collaboration of complex systems working together leads to success. When it breaks down, we blame whoever or whatever is closest.
The key to creating a well run integrated small business is to make sure each component is communicating openly.
Communication is key. Putting together the systems is the hard part but so very well worth it…because how do you think complaining and blame sound to the poor patient who just wants to get it right?