The single most valuable skill in…..

This from David Hepworth’s blog struck a few chords.

The single most valuable skill in (journalism)
The human race is divided into two groups: those who are always late and those who are always early. The first group are no busier than the latter group. They have simply decided that being on-time is somehow beneath them.

The same divide exists among journalists. Here it causes more problems because it usually relates to copy and the lateness thereof. I’ve dealt with hundreds of hacks and can count on the fingers of both hands the ones who are always on time. I can count on the fingers of just the one hand the writers who are so infallibly reliable that I would happily put my house on their delivering their copy not just on time but early. In fact I’ve just counted again and I still have a spare finger.

There’s a slightly larger group who generally deliver on the day. Then there’s the majority who, sad to say, only deliver after nagging. You would have thought that a combination of professional pride and the recession would have brought about a change in these people’s behaviour. It hasn’t.

The sign of a proper magazine professional is that they deliver early, partly because they know that they need to build in some screw-up time, but also because they wouldn’t dream of starting something so near to the deadline that it was likely to be botched as a result of haste. Anybody who tells you “it’ll be ready later today” has not done what the professional would have done, which is stay up late the night before to complete it and then got up early the following morning to give it another read before sending it off.

They also never ever tell you what else they’ve got to do, whether it’s personal or professional. They know that’s not your concern. They realise that they are being hired not merely for their artistry or professionalism; they are being hired because they take an editor’s load and lighten it. They are providing that most invaluable service: once something is handed to them, the editor doesn’t have to think about that bit of the flat plan for a few days. Finally, the really odd thing is that the same people who are on time always deliver copy that is to-length and spelled correctly. Now explain that to me.

Take a look at the comments too.

Kolbe: How to build the perfect team.

Latest Article for publication by Apex:

So far in this series of articles I have concentrated on the Kolbe A index and how its use can benefit both individuals and teams. This time I will talk about the other tools that are available particularly the Kolbe B and C index and their use.

The indexes correct titles are really “Kolbe Conative Index” which from here are referred to as KCI, I will start with a definition that is taken from Kathy Kolbe’s book “Conative Connection.”

Conation: Conation is the area of one’s active mentality that has to do with desire, volition and striving. The related conatus is the resulting effort or striving itself, or the natural tendency or force on one’s mental makeup that produces an effort.

Conative: is the term in psychology that describes anything to do with conation.

All these words come from the Latin conatus, past participle of the verb conari (to try). The Scottish philosopher William Hamilton (1788-1856) considered conation to be one of the three divisions of the mind, the one that included desire and volition, the other two being cognition (perception, awareness) and feeling.To recap: the Kolbe A Index (KCI-A) gives an individual’s Modus Operandi (MO) and shows their instinctive strengths thus how they will best operate.

The Kolbe B Index (KCI-B) focuses on the methods a jobholder perceives are necessary for success; a questionnaire similar to the KCI-A with results on the same four-mode grid makes it straightforward to detect similarities and differences between realities (KCI-A) and self-expectations (KCI-B). The information highlights obstacles that keep workers from functioning through their instinctive strengths.

The Kolbe C Index (KCI-C) is completed by the business owner or the individual’s immediate supervisor (traditionally, this would have been the practice owner but there is an argument for the business manager taking this role). Again the result appears in the four-mode grid for easy comparison.

We have a situation where we now have available to compare:

KCI-A = Individual’s instinctive Talent

KCI-B = Jobholder’s self-expectations

KCI-C = Job requirements or functional necessities

Comparing A and B gives a sense of how much strain you may be under because of the pressure put on yourself. Comparing A and C indicates whether the organisation is limiting the individual’s opportunity to achieve, therefore causing tension in the workplace. Comparing B and C can explain differing perceptions of the role.

How to apply in a practice – I presume that the existing team members and management are all aware of their KCI A results. The time has come to recruit a new team member, from the analysis of existing KCI-A any operating zones that are lacking can be identified. The manager completes the KCI-C for the post to be filled and the search begins.

Firstly look at the current team members. Are any of them more suited to work in the vacant post than where they are currently? Is there a nurse with really high fact find that is clashing because her current role needs an individual who prevents in fact find? Her skills may well be more suited to an administrative or front desk role.

OK, the decision has been made to recruit from outside the current set up. Throw your recruitment net in the usual manner until you are in a position to have the final three or four candidates and at this point you ask them to take the KCI-A.

This is where a lot of business owners baulk, they seem to think that spending $48 is throwing money away. The logic for investing in the Index at this stage is that if you get the wrong person it will cost you immeasurably more in poor performance of the individual and other team members. Then you will have to go through the whole process of removing the wrong cog from the machine, fraught with potential difficulties, and start the recruitment again.

With the A index you are in a position to see who “fits” both with the post and with the skills of the other team members. If you are still torn between, say, a couple on a final shortlist then use the KCI-B to see what the make of the prospective job and the conative skills required. A final comparison should hopefully give a successful and happy result for all parties.

In the short and long term an unhappy and unfulfilled team member does nobody any good. They will not function at anywhere near their best, they will bring the performance levels of the rest of the team down and the resulting organisation operates way below its optimum.

It is estimated that something approaching 50% of staff recruited stay in post for less than 12 months. The cost in terms of time, money and team morale is immeasurable, isn’t it time you took your team recruitment and retention procedures up to the level of your clinical skills?

Take the Kolbe A Index

The Monday Morning Quote #83

“Before the beginning of great brilliance, there must be chaos. Before a brilliant person begins something great, they must look foolish in the crowd.”

– I Ching

Dental Contracts: A Search for Principle and the Future – A report

I was fortunate enough to attend a most informative Dental Legal Conference in Manchester last week, the legal firm Pannone are to be congratulated on the content of the day.

Here’s a full report written by Aidan Briggs.

The rare Manchester sun was out to welcome delegates to the Lowry hotel for the 2010 Dental conference, organised by Pannone solicitors. In all, 100 or so dentists and related professionals gave up their Wednesday to hear key speakers give their views on the present state of public service dentistry and, as soon became apparent, most brought strong opinions of their own.

After an early photo-call, Dr Eddie Crouch opened the day by reminding listeners, if any reminder was needed, of the ever-increasing role of the law in dentists’ practice, a subject on which his personal experience is well-known. The day was focused around the legal and contracting issues facing NHS dentists and some predictions for the future.

Dr Colin Hancock of Denticare Ltd took the floor and, promptly, the clouds rolled in. Patients, said Dr Hancock, are now last on a long and impenetrable list of TLAs (Three-Letter Acronyms) with which practitioners have to grapple. This has led inexorably to systemic professional mistrust between dentists and their PCTs and, ultimately, a total loss of morale in the profession. “Do not roll over” was his plea; too many independents back down in the face of increasingly outrageous demands out of fear of bureaucracy and cost. While maintaining a rapport with the provider was advisable, challenging underperformance demands, keeping rigorous diaries and getting the BDA or lawyers involved early had served to prevent his practice paying a single penny in ‘clawback’. This professional mistrust certainly resonated with his audience; dentists complained of “arbitrary and disconnected decision-making” from PCTs which was neither fair, reasonable nor equitable and this was to become a theme of the day’s discussions.

John Renshaw of Oral Care Consulting Ltd continued in similar vein detailing the minefield that is the new bidding process for PCT contracts. This process, he announced, militates against small practitioners and probably represents between 50 – 60 hours of work per bid. Gone, he mourned, is the old system, “a natural, organic way of developing a practice” and in its place is a new deal in which dentists put up all the cash, take all the risks and are expected to hand over all their goodwill to the PCT after 5 years: “There are huge, huge problems with the new service. The effort to bring fairness fails at every turn. It’s not fair, open, honest, legal or reasonable at all”. Running through the stages of MOI, EOI, PQQ, ITT and finally KPIs Mr Renshaw railed against PCTs who try “to change the immutable laws of nature”. There were rare good apples – PCTs who tendered not on price but on quality for example – but the subtext running through the whole system was an effort “to destabilise every dental practice”, and for Renshaw “dental unemployment is only just around the corner”. A gloomy forecast indeed. Little hope was raised for prospects post- May 6th; “Tories just don’t understand dentistry” was Renshaw’s blunt assessment, and as for the next contract system: “PDS Plus stinks. It is the pits”.

Resentment however was not merely aimed at government. One delegate blamed the BDA’s training-heavy agenda as the cause of looming unemployment. Other delegates were less polite: “The BDA couldn’t run a bath. They couldn’t negotiate their way out of a wet paper bag” said one disenchanted member over lunch. Delegates generally criticised a lack of leadership.

Into the storm Jim Lister of Pannone solicitors attempted to inject a ray of hope, giving advice for employment disputes. Redundancy, he said, was an under-used tool in an employer’s arsenal; making staff redundant was not restricted to collapsing businesses and should be employed as a tool for managing the skills and costs of your business. Thanks to the UK’s employer-friendly regime even an unfair redundancy still saves you money, delegates heard. On the other hand, the new Vetting & Barring scheme and the flexible working provisions of the Equality Act promised a serious headache for small employers. Quid pro quo.

Also from Pannone, Nicola Marchant a leading practitioner in the North West gave a practical review of partnership disputes and how to avoid them. The take-home message: make an agreement in writing or be lumbered with the archaic provisions of the 1890 Partnership Act. The BDA has a passable template agreement available, which members can tailor to their own situation. Dentists should also be aware of the protection and tax advantages afforded by incorporation or by forming Limited Liability Partnerships; although PCTs work to discourage the use of alternative business structures, there are ways around the problem for the canny (or well-advised) practitioner.

Richard George of DPAS raised the issue of UDA value disparity. In Renshaw’s opinion, harmonisation was inevitable. Colin Hancock agreed that low UDA values prejudice quality and a more likely result is an average payment, with PCTs keeping back money for extensive and specialist treatments. Denplan’s Roger Matthews made comparisons with the recent pilot projects in Northern Ireland and had no doubt that, although dentistry will maintain its value, it was “fanciful to imagine” that dentistry could escape the likely £20 billion of ‘efficiency savings’ after May 6th, whoever wins the election. The inevitable consequence, as with the proposed of cap on GP’s salaries, was a wider gap between private and public incomes and “an inevitable career progression to private practice”.

After lunch, barrister Simon Butler gave a rousing speech urging practitioners to be more proactive in challenging PCTs. Freedom of Information requests can be tactically invaluable in mounting a case, he warned, but if dentists want to protect their goodwill they must be bold and unwavering in the face of PCTs who will try deliberately to disadvantage practices which raise disputes. Mr Butler also raised concerns with the NHLSA Dispute Resolution Process; adjudicators are not legal practitioners, and can bind parties into decisions that are almost impossible to review. As a salutary warning, Mr Butler raised the new 2010 regulations, which entitle PCTs to terminate GP contracts simply on notice without any reasons whatsoever. In a recent medical case, GPs had been forced by one PCT to take a 40% cut in the value of their contracts or have their contracts cancelled under the new clause. That case is currently headed for the High Court, but similar provisions in GDS contracts are coming, and practitioners should be prepared for decisions from PCTs under pressure to make savings.

Mr Butler also discussed contractual arguments in relation to clawback, goodwill and termination.

Leaving the law aside, Roger Matthews through a heavy cold explored the recent data on public and private dental care. The 33⁄4 years since March 2006, delegates heard, have produced only 18,000 new NHS patients for £1.2bn of extra expenditure – just under £100,000 per patient – and the new system showed massive discrepancies in behaviour of PCTs, with some trusts clawing back only 2% of underperformance and others clawing back 100%. Another issue that was raised was the provision of advanced care – such as endodontics and periodontics – which is positively discouraged by the UDA system. Dr Alex Milosevic, a hospital dentist, cited his personal experience of having a glut of referrals who were either too expensive to treat under GDS contracts, or were the victims of the run up to March when many practices have exceeded their allocation of UDAs. The experience that dentists are not the only victims of weak contracting provisions was one shared across the conference as a whole.

On that happy note, Eddie Crouch rounded off the day with a look at the Health Select Committee Report and the Steele Review. He brought good news from the Steele Implementation Programme Board that the 2006-style contract is, hopefully, “dead” and that the proposals under discussion post-Steele will address many of the concerns which were overlooked in the rush to create GDS contracts. The Contracts group have been inundated with expressions of interest in the Wave 2 pilot programmes (although realistically these are likely to get underway in mid-2011, somewhat later than planned) and expect to select 100 or so practices from across the dental spectrum. The Pathways group are engaged in the more arduous task of defining key terms and setting out criteria for advanced care.

As we emerged into the evening sun, three key messages remained out of the day’s discussions; first, mistrust and dirty tactics from PCTs are putting contract value and goodwill at risk, and practitioners are increasingly turning to litigation to protect their interests. Second, the tendering system and employment regulations have increased the burden on practice managers and militate against the small practice. Third, more leadership is needed from the BDA in pursuing dentists’ interests, by forging the shape of future arrangements with providers. As pressures on health budgets increase, dentists must unite and be bold; dark times, and a call to arms.

Aidan Briggs
Ely Place Chambers

Who judges your work? – Seth Godin

From Seth’s blog

I do wish someone had explained this fully to me when I was 16 or 18 or 20 or 30.

Here’s the mistake we make in high school:

We let anyone, just anyone, judge our work (and by extension, judge us.)

Sue, the airheaded but long-legged girl in Spanish class gets the right to judge our appearance.

Bill, the bitter former-poet English teacher gets the power to tell us if we’re good at writing.

And on and on.

The cheerleaders are deputized as the Supreme Court of social popularity, and the gym teacher forever has dibs on whether or not we’re macho enough to make it in the world. These are patterns we sign up for, and they last forever (or until we tell them to go away).

In high school, some people learn to ship, they learn to do work that matters and most of all, they learn to ignore the critics they can never possibly please. The ability to choose who judges your work–the people who will make it better, use it and reward you–is the key building block in becoming an artist in whatever you do.

Simon Tyler – Intangibly Articulate a film by Nic Askew

This is a wonderful film about what “coaching” is or isn’t and does or doesn’t.

intangibly inarticulatable from Nic Askew on Vimeo.

The Monday Morning Quote #82

“I always wanted to be somebody, but now I realize I should have been more specific.”

~ Lily Tomlin

Free Thinker and a (High) Flier

Written by Audoen Healy on GDPUK

My family and I may have been the only people to manage to fly back to the UK from Spain on Friday. I flew my family back myself in my own aircraft and it was a beautiful day.
I did see the stuff up there, in thin wispy trails, and we did smell hydrogen sulphide very briefly over the Channel.
I only did this after extensive investigations over the previous 24 hours when it became apparent that this whole thing is a massive over reaction, just like the swine flu and prion paranoia.
The precautionary principle has gone into warp drive.
When this dust settles the political backlash will be immense.
Only yesterday did some of the numpties actually decide to seek evidence, send up a 737 with flight crew, fly through the stuff, and examine the engines afterwards.
Result, no discernible damage!
And that was in Holland.
HMG are bloody useless. We are run by out of control quangoes who will do anything to cover their own arses, regardless of the damage it causes to the rest of us.
HMG should have started to test this stuff immediately, and we would in most likelyhood all be back flying by now.
Haven’t you all noticed the small planes flying about with no problem???
There have been no reports of flying incidents or engine damage.
In the history of aviation only a tiny number of planes ever encountered problems with volcanic ash, and they did so by flying through the centre of the plume right over the volcano vent.
Good luck to everyone who is stuck abroad. I hope logic prevails soon, but I am not holding my breath.

The Monday Morning Quote #81

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do.

So throw off the bowlines.

Sail away from the safe harbor.

Catch the trade winds in your sails.

Explore. Dream. Discover.”

—  Mark Twain

Steele – mushroom time for GDPs

The last four front pages of Dentistry magazine sum up beautifully why the “poor bloody infantry” of British (or should that just be English) dentistry feel so confused. How on earth have things been allowed to come to this state where a profession hasn’t got a clue where its future lies? I know that Julian English and his team want to create eye-catching headlines but does anybody really know what is going on any more?

Under succesive governments, an unholy mess has been created by dogma dominated, interfering politicians who are badly briefed and have blinkered views of any profession other than their own.

Already it is apparent that should the Conservatives win the forthcoming election they have an agenda of poorly researched ideas which have not been thought through, let alone discussed, with the people who will have to risk their livelihood at the whim of a new secretary of state.

So my mantra of the lat 25 years continues, don’t put your business’s future and that of your family and your patients in the hands of people to whom you are a number.


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