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.