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TAO – the Book Installment 7 Create Culture

April 20, 2010

Filed under: TAO - The Book — Tags: — Barry @ 9:09 PM


Working out your own personal philosophy is a starting point. Imagine a dental case where the dentist incorrectly determined the mandibular plane. Everything from that point forward will be effected, from function to that very popular buzzword – cosmetics (form). The only way to correct that mistake is to start again. When you start with some very simple, but big objectives, in mind, you will see that every strategy you employ begins to create a culture within your business.  As you will soon see, having a system or a process is the key to success.
Throughout my career, countless patients have told me that my practice has a very distinct and visible culture. They see it in the behavior of everyone in the office. We are all aligned through a belief system that is an extension of my own value system. I like to think that my skills are very good, and they have improved over time because of my dedication to creating this practice culture. Continuing education and training is imperative for creating a culture. If it’s a good culture, you have a good business strategy. The practice will not only become more streamlined and productive but it will provide all members of the practice – doctors, staff, and patients – with the comfortable knowledge and assurance that they are achieving at their highest levels.
The culture will self-perpetuate. It will attract people with like values. Word of mouth referrals will grow. The practice will develop a reputation in the community of being the best. This follows the rule of “birds of a feather flock together.”

Later you will learn about the very important Law of Attraction. This Law has been credited with being the “Secret” to life’s successes in a mega-bestselling book by the same name.  The Law of Attraction begins with creating an attractive culture.  Many practices complain about how they don’t attract the patients they need to build this type of culture. It’s been my experience that those offices have no culture or one where the doctor and staff are at odds.
In Eastern teachings the term “Sangha” is used to describe a spiritual community of individuals dedicated to creating and sustaining an environment that nurtures and supports reverence, mindfulness and spirituality as a lifestyle.  Sangha creates a feeling of safety. I believe all of us seek this spiritual community.

This is the community I felt when I first travelled to the Pankey Institute, a place of unconditional acceptance.  I have strived through the years to create such a culture in my practice.
There is no limit to the rewards one can reap if the foundation is strong. In his book, Who Says Elephants Cant’ Dance, Inside IBM’s Historic Turnaround, Louis V. Gerstner, Jr., the retired CEO of IBM, writes about the importance of establishing a culture that is the result of one person’s vision:
“I came to see in my time at IBM, that culture isn’t just one aspect of the game – it is the game. In the end, an organization is nothing more than the collective capacity of its people to create value. Vision, strategy, marketing, financial management – any management system, in fact – can set you on the right path and carry you for a while. But no enterprise – whether in business, government, education, health care, or any area of human endeavor – will succeed over the long haul if those elements aren’t part of its DNA.  A company’s initial culture is usually determined by its founder’s mindset – that person’s values, beliefs, preferences and also idiosyncrasies. It’s been said that every institution is nothing but the extended shadow of one person,” he wrote.
With a culture in place, staff members, and the dentist alike will know not only how things are done but also why. Essentially, this book is an orderly way of demonstrating answers to how and why. In the end, your practice will develop a unique way of performing many tasks that will create the culture of your practice.  If you as the leader is fun to be around then the practice will take on that trait.  If you are belligerent then the practice becomes belligerent.  If you are fearful, the practice is fearful.  In other words, the practice takes on the character of the dentist.  The happy dentist creates the happy practice.


  1. great post as usual!

    Comment by MarkSpizer — May 3, 2010 @ 3:32 AM

  2. barry, great post on creating culture. jordan van horn and i just returned from a business planning weekend and thought through and wrote down our vision, mission, and core values. “culture” is one of our third core value.

    when you have a chance, let me know what you think of what we have created so far; we’re open to improving it….



    System Six was founded with the belief that our clients’ success is our success. We provide high-value bookkeeping and accounting services to ambitious small business owners and high-performance entrepreneurs, helping them achieve their goals while mutually pursuing profitability, all to the glory of God.

    A world where people are valued, others come first, excellence is delivered, a positive culture is created, life balance and profit are achieved, and joy is a daily occurrence.

    They start with our customer, to how we serve, care for our team, the results we seek, how we give back, and Who gets the glory.

    1. CUSTOMER – We are completely client focused. We exist to serve our clients and help them achieve their goals. Our clients’ success is our success.

    2. EXCELLENCE – We strive for excellence and attention to detail. We do what is right, with no short cuts.

    3. CULTURE – We create a positive and lasting culture that attracts, retains, and rewards our employees, clients, vendors, and community. We treat others the way we want to be treated.

    4. PROFIT – We are a profitable company and seek to support our clients’ profitability.

    5. STEWARDSHIP – We believe in stewardship and are generous with our time, our talents, and our money.

    6. TRIFECTA – God First, Family Second, Company third.

    Comment by jeremy allen — May 10, 2010 @ 10:58 PM

  3. Your business done the due diligence of recording your vision, mission and values. These guiding principles will create the culture that will determine your future. This important business planning step is neglected in many practices…and that is how the culture looks. Form follows function.

    Comment by Barry — May 11, 2010 @ 1:51 AM

  4. Barry the plugin that enables your readers to be notified by email when someone updates a post on the blog can be found here: http://disqus.com/comments/

    hope it’s helpful

    Comment by jeremy allen — May 11, 2010 @ 1:15 PM

  5. Love this idea. I wish every dentist was as aware of this as you. I would probably love my dentist a bit more. I really like the idea of extending your personal vision in your business practice, in creating a nurturing, empathetic, and safe culture for both your employees and patients. So many people are only interested in getting their ‘job done’ and don’t think about the larger picture, what influence their work has on people, or anything of that nature. Thanks for posting. Also, I tried to subscribe, clicking the ‘subscribe’ link, but it just took me to your homepage. Would love to subscribe if possible ;]

    Comment by Lynn — May 15, 2010 @ 3:17 PM

  6. Thanks Lynn for your thoughtful comment. Writing this blog has been one man’s attempt to bring trust back to a profession that has been hit fairly hard by the current economic conditions. Dentistry has certainly seen its changes like most industries…finance, medicine, and education to name a few. It is only by opening up the conversation that ideas can spread.

    Comment by Barry — May 15, 2010 @ 6:49 PM

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