How To Win The Rugby World Cup.

RUGBY WORLD CUP & BALLWorth re-visiting Graham Henry’s article from The Guardian on how to change from losers to winners. Lessons here for anybody involved in selecting, guiding and leading teams. It’s all about the preparation.

“Graham Henry looks down at the grass of Eden Park. So many matches, so many memories. One wells up above the others. 23 October, 2011, the World Cup final, New Zealand 8, France 7. The culmination of a 37-year career that started when Henry took charge of Auckland Grammar’s under-15 team. “When I was coaching the All Blacks I was probably the most experienced coach in the world,” Henry says. “That’s not an arrogant statement, it’s a fact.”

Henry moved from school coach to province coach to Super Rugby coach. Then there was Wales. They lost in the World Cup quarter-finals in 1999. That was followed by a poor tour with the British & Irish Lions in 2001 that ended in a 2-1 defeat by Australia. Another spell with Auckland, in rugby rehab. Then, at last, the top job. Head coach of the All Blacks. In 2007, came the hardest defeat of all, another quarter-final defeat, by France in Cardiff. For Henry, it was a long road to the 2011 final. These are the pick of the many lessons he learned along the way.

Culture comes first
Henry took on the All Blacks job in December 2003, but he did not really take charge for another 12 months. After New Zealand’s defeat by South Africa at Ellis Park in August 2004, the team held a mock court session. Two senior players, Justin Marshall and Carlos Spencer, passed down the punishments. Mostly they involved downing alcohol. Almost everyone ended up blind drunk. Henry realised then the squad had become dysfunctional. Back in New Zealand, Henry and his assistants, Steve Hansen and Wayne Smith, met two senior players. It was the most important meeting Henry had in his eight years in charge. “We agreed we had to move away from that macho culture.”

The next paragraphs are headed:

  • Check your ego
  • Empower your players
  • Be smart, be secretive
  • Confront your weaknesses
  • Expect the unexpected

Continues here

The Weekend Read – No Place to Hide by Glenn Greenwald

UnknownThis is not a book about dentistry, business, rugby or rock music. Nor is it a work of fiction although some of the press and a great number of politicians would you have you believe that it is.  It’s an unusual one for me to mention here but why not share what could prove to be revelations that have profound implications for the way that we live our lives, the way our governments behave and how we look upon the use of the day to day information we take for granted?

The story of Edward Snowden, the NSA and the US surveillance state has been told and re-told in public, yet I feel its full ramifications are not understood. The fact that the US government records all telephone conversations, emails, Skype conversations and internet activity not only of its own citizens but also of anyone whose email traffic passes through the USA (ie the rest of us) would be far fetched if it were not true.

My brother introduced this to me and I watched Laura Poitras’ Oscar winning film CitizenFour with him. As he said at the time, “it’s bloody terrifying”. He’s right.

What staggers me is not the high handed way the NSA act – we should be used to the repeated paranoia of the US from J. Edgar Hoover, Richard Nixon and George W Bush but the fact that the UK government condones, encourages and joins in through the “Doughnut in Benhall” or GCHQ as those outside Cheltenham know it. I always presumed that my patients who worked at GCHQ were secretive because they knew things about the Russians or the Chinese but now I wonder if it’s because they had information about me.

The courage shown by Snowden, author Greenwald, Guardian journalist Ewan MacAskill and film maker Poitras is inspiring. I would like to think that I might be a tenth as brave.

The tale unfolds like a good thriller starting with a meeting with a mystery man in Hong Kong, then there is subterfuge, tension about publication and a race against time to get the scoop. The only thing to remember is that it’s true.

“it’s bloody terrifying”. Quite.

You can buy it through Amazon, or the Book Depository – just remember “they” will know that you have read it.


The art of dying well – Margaret McCartney

Quantity or Quality?

An excellent article in the Spectator by Glasgow GP Margaret McCartney where she asks the question, “Do we want to live as long as modern medicine allows us, or only so long as life is sweet?”

Death is our only shared destiny, but we are in a new era; it’s not unusual to have 70-year-olds looking after a 90-year-old parent. A few years ago we had to reorganise the shelving in the general practice where I work in order to accommodate the notes of our octogenarians and nonagenarians. In 1917, King George V sent out 24 messages to people having a 100th birthday. In 2011, the Queen sent 9,736.

This is worth celebrating. Just before Christmas, I was languishing in a long queue at the Post Office where a 93- and a 94-year-old were holding court, debating the standards of humour in the greetings cards display to such uproar that the postmistress had to pause to wipe tears of laughter away. Age does not mean a loss of fun, vivacity, or pleasure in living.

But age is still the most potent risk factor for death, and many older people at the end of life have its quality impaired by loneliness and, frankly, too much medicine. If we want good living right up until we die, we should be examining what makes it good — and what stops it being so.


PS For the past 45 years I have churned out a few lines of Roger McGough’s poem “let me die a young man’s death” when death and dying comes up in conversation, I find he has re-written it as, “not for me a young man’s death”….

The Monday Morning Quote #341 – Thomas Leonard October #4

“Tolerate Nothing”

“When you put up with something, it costs you.

Costs are expensive and unattractive.”

Thomas Leonard from ‘The 28 Principles of Attraction.’

Dental Showcase Day 3

Some of the feedback I heard was that the show was quiet and that numbers were disappointing. That said I also heard that on Thursday people came to buy and a lot of sales were made. No doubt the BDIA wil analyse the figures and come to their own conclusions. One suggestion I heard was that Showcase should be reduced to 2 days, Friday and Saturday. Of course The Dentistry Show which also provides loads of free CPD provides a great attraction for dental dealers although the feeling there this year was that there weren’t many people there either who wanted to buy.

  • As usual on Saturday there were families, I watched one harassed mother feeding her fractious infant sweets in an attempt to keep him quiet. Sometimes you despair.
  • As usual on Saturday there were some hangovers on display, it’s a social event too .
  • As usual on Saturday there were a lot of very tired legs and feet by 3.30pm – it’s a test of stamina.

Over the years I have watched trends come and go. Computer systems, membership schemes, tooth whitening methods, loupes, have all settled down with the survivors still doing good business.

  • We’re still seeing lots of “STO” systems but there weren’t any new kids on the block this year.
  • The locum agencies are doing good business reflecting the highly mobile nature of today’s marketplace which sometimes is like a game of musical chairs with unhappy associates and hygienists constantly searching for the greener grass.
  • Finally the sales of practices continues unabated – as the baby boomers try to *cash in / *reap the rewards of their years of hard work. (*Opinion varies with age, of course. I have seen several mature dentists revise their opinions of corporates when the cheque book appears).

 The big firms put on a good show:

  • Henry Schein were taking things very seriously with their stand on 2 levels.
  • Dental Directory occupied what looked like a very large corner of the arena. At one point I counted 40 pink shirted sales people. So many that there seemed little room for visitors – nice to see that they have maintained their cafe.
  • The “Big 2” computer companies SoE and Exact each had a significant presence.
  • I was taken with the elegance of the Kavo stand and noticed that Dentsply and Schottlander were both very busy.

For every large firm there are always several smaller businesses manufacturing, selling or servicing materials, equipment and services. It’s them who are the life blood of the BDIA, every Henry Schein and Wright Cottrell starts with one person with a vision and a desire to make something happen and it is this diversity and choice that makes the dental industry fascinating.

Next year Showcase will be at Excel in East London on October 6th – 8th and I’m looking forward to it already – long may it prosper and thank you BDIA for everything you do for Dentistry – Dentists and their teams couldn’t do it without you.


Dental Showcase Day 2

IMG_0742The photograph above is of the entrance tunnel to the exhibition hall, I heard it called disturbing, weird, uncomfortable and off putting. It reminded me of an 80s pop music video with something of David Bowie’s Stage about it.

On my second day I enjoyed several successful meetings and had some time to catch up with friends and colleagues. Amongst the conversations were a few of the “what the hell did they think they were doing?” and “how can they get away with that?” with Jonathan Jacobs. Stories of broken partnerships and misunderstandings that could and should have been avoided by conversations at the start of a relationship whether business or clinical.

Thirty odd years ago I was “turned on” to perio by the late Marsh Midda, John Zamet and Bernie Keiser, I was considered odd by some of my turbine toting contemporaries. I presumed that by now, with caries under control, all hygienists would be fully booked and at the heart of every practice. According to the BSP it seems that a large number of dentists still don’t do the BPE as a matter of routine and screen for periodontal disease with their eyes only. Two concerns, firstly there is the obvious clinical one of under-diagnosis and second why let work, cash and profit walk out of the doors?

At the far end of the hall were the booths where societies including ADAM, the BSP, BSDHT, BADN and Dental Fusion had representatives. These volunteers do great work on behalf of their members and are well worth taking the time to visit.

I dropped in for a catch up with Ian Pinner of Ceramic Systems, CADCAM and Cerec is alive, well and flourishing I’m pleased to say. Yet again I am forced to eat my words of two decades ago when my uncle described CADCAM and its use in engineering to me. “That would work well in dentistry” he said, “I very much doubt it” was my reply. Wrong for not the first, nor the last, time.

After my comments yesterday about the BDA, I spent some time having BDA Expert demonstrated to me, it’s impressive and all the better for being easily accessible on-line. I still think they (I know that should be “we” as I’m a Branch President) could and should do more to try to attract new members.

Once again towards the end of the day neatly branded FMC Bar was welcoming, there is a great sense of professionalism in everything that FMC does.IMG_0739

I spent the evening at the Bridge2Aid Bash. At the supporters’ reception before the “Bash”, Mark Topley gave an excellent summary of the charity’s work and future plans. His passion for the “project” is clearly undiminished.IMG_0743

At the end of the night I was fortunate enough to be able to cadge a lift back to my hotel in downtown Birmingham – thanks to Richard from taxis4coaches.

Dental Showcase Day 1

logoA few thoughts after what seemed to be a very quiet day at BDIA Dental Showcase at the NEC.

It seems that Day 1 is “buyers’ day”, several people told me that they had met with customers who had come prepared with a shopping list and placed big orders.

Day 2 is “Team Day” when Dentists cloes their practices and give their staff a treat by taking them to the NEC.

Day 3 was described to me as “Buggy Day” featuring the sight of dental parents and their offspring blocking the aisles, loading the carrier bags onto the handles of the baby buggies. The result is they can’t let go of the buggy handles as the thing will tip backwards.

What did I see? A few picks. SFD – Systems For Dentists – continues to impress me, since I first played with their product half a dozen years ago they have continued to make steady progress. They are a firm that talks your language, doesn’t try to impress with jargon or clever but pointless features. The software does what it is supposed to do without fuss and is very reasonably priced.

A new treatment for clenching, grinding and associated problems was being launched by Renew Health Ltd, it’s called Cerezan and works by using a small, custom made insert in each ear. Take a look here.

I picked up an excellent little text book, Getting What You Want From Orthodontics, from the Wired Orthodontics stand. Wired, The Artisans of Orthodontics, is run by Specialist Orthodontist Ian Hutchinson and Laboratory owner Sue Bessant. In a world that is full of systems making all sorts of claims – especially get rich quick – the teaching, training and support provided by Wired is good to see. I am fortunate to work with two of their “graduates” and know how much they appreciate their time spent.

The two big Dental Charities continue to do their great work with both Bridge2Aid and Dentaid having stands.

The BDA seemed to be busy pushing a “system” rather than attracting new members and listening to their current ones, but there was a welcome.

I dropped in at the GDPUK “seating area” and took advantage of the chance to rest my legs for 10 minutes. Presumably the members were all busy in their virtual world as nobody joined me – I’ll try again today.

Practice Plan’s Business of Dentistry theatre seemed to be busy all day and as ever their people were welcoming.

Had a few interesting conversations with solicitors agents and accountants who are in a position to see changes happening through the sales of Dental Businesses.

Towards the end of the day and people were starting to unwind – helped by some fizz from DPAS and a glass of beer at the FMC “pub”.

One notable absentee this year is GSK. The company behind Sensodyne, Corsodyl and Aquafresh doesn’t have a presence, shame.

More tomorrow – enjoy your day.

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