The Weekend Read – Getting Things Done by David Allen

gtdDavid Allen – Getting Things Done – the art of stress free productivity.

This is one of those “must read” books, an obligatory member of every coach’s reading list for their clients. The second edition, published in 2015, is just over 300 pages long and comes almost 15 years after the first edition which was hailed as “the business book of the decade”.

A long book but a worthwhile read and its almost philosophical approach to task and time management will provoke you to think about what, why, how and when you are doing what you do.

Michael Townsend Williams, in his excellent little book Do/Breathe, says, “No one teaches us the art of doing. We are thrown in the deep end at school, somehow avoid drowning in university or college, and end up splashing wildly through our working lives.” He goes on to suggest a form of David’s GTD to deal with what we have to do. We all have to do.

One of the great things about the Getting Things Done (GTD) approach is that it comes at things from a point of not having an overwhelming “To-Do” list that can stifle you to the point of paralysis. As the cover “blurb” says, “Only when our minds are clear and our thoughts are organised can we achieve effective results and unleash our creative potential.”

The book is divided into three sections:

  • The Art of Getting Things Done,
  • Practicing Stress-Free Productivity and
  • The Power of Key Principles.

After dabbling with all manner of organisational methods which were mostly repackaged common sense I came to this book with some reluctance, thinking, “Do I really want to be regimented by someone else’s imposed procedures?” I found it to be practical, adaptable – we all live very different lives – and effective. I was able to make improvements to the way I organised myself from the first chapter.

David starts by outlining the stages of his core process:

  1. Capture what has our attention.
  2. Clarify what each item means.
  3. Organise the results which presents the options we..
  4. Reflect on which we then…
  5. Choose to engage with.

We all have “stuff” coming into our in-basket (whatever form that takes), so start with the questions, “What is it? & Is it actionable?”

If the answer is no then bin it, put it into a someday/maybe review file or a retrievable/reference file.

If the answer is “yes” ask the next question, “What’s the next action?” from here will either go to projects (anything that will take multiple steps) or it’s for immediate action.

Next question, will it take less than 2 minutes? If yes then do it. If not either delegate or defer. Delegation is of course an art in itself. If deferring then decide either when (diary needed) or if it’s an “as soon as I can” action. (“This Two-Minute rule will free up your mind tenfold” as one reviewer put it) 

That really doesn’t do even that one page justice.

It truly is a thoroughly useful read  for an effective life – you will take lessons away that will help you each and every day.

Obtainable from The Book Depository.

The Weekend Read – What they don’t teach you at Harvard Business School by Mark H McCormack

9781781253397First published in 1984, I see that it is still one of the top sellers in the Business sections of airport book shops. Its very longevity proves that it either must have something going for it or because it has always been popular it must be good. Well you pays your money and you takes your choice. I find it a well written, easily digestible book with plenty to offer anyone in any business.

I read it when it was first released by Collins in 1984 (so yet another thank you to my Dad)  thinking that the lessons of “big business” which at the time were a million miles away from my life as a peripatetic associate in dental practices would not apply to my life. In this as in many other things I was wrong – the fundamentals of business large or small are the same. I have re-read it a couple of times since and although the landscape may have changed the fundamentals have not – nor will they.

The book is split into three sections People, Sales & Negotiations, and Running a Business. The opening four chapters should be compulsory reading for all new dental graduates including as they do with getting on with people, making an impression and getting ahead. The Sales and Negotiations isn’t as high blown as you may think and has plenty of nitty gritty advice.

The last four chapters on running a business are invaluable to anyone thinking about getting into business on their own or wanting to be a first class employee. There is a lot of B***S*** spoken these days about being an entrepreneur; those people who say they want to be an entrepreneur, especially in dentistry, would do well to read the last chapter of the book where he states that 99% of people should work for somebody. Start by examining your motives and if they are dreams, if you are running away from things or you ‘want to make a lot of money’ then McCormack writes, “forget it”.

In case you don’t know who Mark McCormack was (he died in 2003) here’s the blurb, “dubbed ‘the most powerful man in sport’, founded IMG (International Management Group) on a handshake. It was the first and is the most successful sports management company in the world, becoming a multi-million dollar, worldwide corporation whose activities in the business and marketing spheres are so diverse as to defy classification. Here, Mark McCormack reveals the secret of his success to key business issues such as analysing yourself and others, sales, negotiation, time management, decision-making and communication. What They Don’t Teach You at Harvard Business School fills the gaps between a business school education and the street knowledge that comes from the day-to-day experience of running a business and managing people. It shares the business skills, techniques and wisdom gleaned from twenty-five years of experience.”

Available from The Book Depository.

Building A 21st Century Brand

writing brand concept

From the “The Story of Telling”, and as always, well worth a read. Full article here

Forty years ago a brand was an identifier. Branding was what we did to the outside of a product or service after it was conceived and created. Brands became tales woven to increase visibility and memorability using design, clever copy, print and TV…….

….But this isn’t how you build a beloved brand now. Today a brand is a promise that people align with, believe and invest in and branding begins from the inside out. 21st century brands are purpose-driven. They have a reason to exist beyond making a profit, and they no longer aim to appeal to the average or everyone……

….If the nature and function of brands have changed, then the process for developing brands and brand stories must evolve too. We’ll be on our way when we begin by prioritising the objectives on the second list. A brand story is no longer like the top coat of gloss paint applied at the last moment to make the surface shinier and more immediately attractive. It’s the undercoat that often nobody sees, but which allows the brand to endure.

 

 

RCS warns of risks of increasing litigation pay-outs

rcs-logo

The Royal College of Surgeons (RCS) has warned that NHS trusts risk facing a dramatic increase in the number of litigation pay-outs made if they do not make changes to the processes they use to gain consent from patients before surgery. The warning comes after a landmark judgment given in a Supreme Court case in 2015, Montgomery vs Lanarkshire Health Board, clarified our understanding of patient consent.

The Royal College of Surgeons has today published new guidance for surgeons that aims to help doctors and surgeons understand the shift in the law and its implications, as well as give them the tools to assist in improving their practice.

According to the NHS Litigation Authority (NHSLA), which handles medical negligence claims on behalf of hospitals NHS trusts in England paid out more than £1.4 billion in claims during 2015/2016 . The RCS is concerned that this bill could go up significantly if hospitals do not take the Montgomery ruling seriously.

Traditionally clinical practice in the NHS has considered that it is up to doctors to decide what risks to communicate to patients. The court in the Montgomery case changed this and held that doctors must ensure patients are aware of any and all risks that an individual patient, not a doctor, might consider significant. In other words doctors can no longer be the sole arbiter of determining what risks are material to the patient.

Full article here

Consent: Supported Decision-Making – A Guide to Good Practice explains the change in case law and the impact this has on gaining consent from patients. It offers a set of principles to help surgeons support patients to make decisions about their care and gives a step-by-step overview of how the consent process should happen.

Further comments..

Clinical negligence practitioners and patient safety groups have welcomed the new approach to consent. However, the organisational challenge now facing the NHS is considerable. Clinicians already adopting the new guidelines report that typical consultation times have increased, often due to the need for a senior doctor with experience of a range of treatments to talk through the options in detail.

Kirsten Wall, partner in the clinical negligence department at Leigh Day, said of the RCS’s new guidelines: ‘This new approach to obtaining a patient’s consent is an important step away from the previous approach of ‘doctor knows best’ to allowing patients the opportunity to weigh up all the risks and alternative treatment options so they can make a decision that is right for them and their family’.

The Incisal Edge Podcast – Alun Rees talks to Sandeep Senghera

https://theincisaledge.files.wordpress.com/2016/08/sandeep-senghera.mp3

toothpick-sandeep-sengheraDr Sandeep Senghera is the founder of ToothPick.com which is now under the umbrella of WhatClinic.com giving him responsibility for their Dental operations worldwide. A persuasive and passionate speaker, he obviously believes completely in technology being at the front of dental customer service – and after a couple of hours in his company I can’t disagree!

You can find out more about WhatClinic.com by calling Karen Doyle on 02033899445 or emailing kdoyle@whatclinic.com.

 

Sidney Toledano on numbers.

I have recently worked with a couple of clients who have been obsessing about and dominated by numbers – it turns out that a previous adviser had insisted that they use systems where everything is counted, measured and future performance is predicted. The problem is that many of the predictions were unrealistically optimistic and the subsequent counting and comparing has produced a sense of failure in the management team. Add in a feeling of overwhelm where the counting takes over from the doing and there is a feeling of inertia. I love numbers as much as, if not more than, the next man or woman but by no means are they the be-all and end-all of a business. So the Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) should be decided and monitored but they need to be realistic, easy to see and part of a system where changes can be made in response to stimulus.

I read the interview from which this is an excerpt whilst on a flight over the Irish Sea, and I was thinking that at the front of the ‘plane there were a couple of pilots with a bank of instruments in front of them which they were monitoring but not obsessing about. In the same way that when you drive a car you are subconsciously scanning speedometer, fuel gauge, temperature, sat-nav, rev-counter, rear mirrors and it’s only when one of these shows something for concern that you take action.

It’s the doing that is most important, not the counting – that’s just a tool.

Sidney Toledano has been the President & Chief Executive of Dior Couture since 1998. During his time in charge the group have opened another 200 stores and both turnover has risen from €134 million to €5 billion. In his interview in the FT recently I was struck by the former mathematician’s attitude to numbers and business.

Sidney+Toledano+Arrivals+Guggenheim+International+wCmpa01HuxGl“We already had the culture at Dior, but we had to be more agile and reactive. That is why I always say, ‘If business is not good, don’t stay in the office’. Some people try to find out what’s wrong through the numbers. But if you stay in the office nothing will change.”

“My Father taught me it’s better to have no explanation for success than to have a lot of explanations for a failure. Success is intuition, action, decision and take some risks. Frankly, numbers; I see them every day when I get the worldwide update. I can see every single figure for every single piece. But I don’t spend more than 10-15 minutes on it because I follow them every day.”

“It’s like a good doctor. They see the numbers very quickly – temperature, whatever – but they talk to the patient. I’ve never seen a doctor fixing a problem with a thermometer. And you never fix a problem with the numbers. Don’t look and you miss everything.”

 

The Weekend Read – The Management of Dental Practice by Edward Samson

Samson_Edward

This book was published in 1969 and described as inheriting the character but not the anatomy from Samson’s (pictured left) 1931 book “Progressive Practice”. All I am going to say much about either book is that, although dated in some ways, much of their teaching is as relevant today as it was when they first saw light of day.

Below I have transposed the book’s forward by Professor Sir Robert Bradlaw (pictured below) CBE, FRCS, FDSRCS, FFDRCS. I think many of us could do with reflecting on his words. Sadly many of those who would benefit most will probably not bother.

“It has always surprised me that dental surgeons who have worked so assiduously to achieve diagnostic and operative skill are often so haphazard in their approach to practice management, for without good organisation and administration not only is efficiency impeded but professional ability poorly rewarded. It is true that a practitioner can learn from experience but this can be the most expensive way to learn, often far too expensive. The distinctive characteristic of a profession is that the welfare of those who entrust themselves to its care is paramount but that does not mean that the professional man or woman should be indifferent to his own – indeed, I suspect that those who neglect their own interests may not be well placed to look after other peoples.

07a74b3bb041a05fbea7ce44dbd8208bWe live in a world of changing values so that it is not surprising that there are those who, without having given much thought to it, think that the ethical code of our profession is obsolescent. This is ill considered; it was Samuel Butler who said that morality is the feeling of one’s peers. Ethical conduct depends not so much a formal code as on the right attitude of mind to both patient and fellow practitioner. Marcus Aurelius summed it up by saying, “What is not good for the hive is not be good for the bee”. So putting it at its lowest in terms of personal advantage, it is wise for all of us to adhere to the code prescribed by our fellows.”

Says it all.