Playing the “What If” game.

I delivered my presentation, “Is Dentistry Making You Sick?” in Gloucestershire a couple of days ago and introduced a game that I suggest participants play with their teams and partners. It’s called “What If” and the rules are simple in the extreme, you come up with the most unlikely thing that you can imagine and make plans on how you will deal with it on a personal and business level. Then move on to the second most unlikely and so on – I think you get the drift.

Visualise scenarios, research, plan and rehearse.

The example I used was of the owner of a 95% NHS dental practice who had been planning for the new NHS contract to replace the shameful 2006 edition, it has been promised over and over by successive governments. The contract will emphasise prevention and have a level of capitation payments. It will have been trialled and tested and approved by the BDA.

The What If game when played on Monday at 9am would have had them wake up one day and discover that the government had called a general election in order to concentrate on Brexit. The side effects of the likely victory would be to railroad their austerity programme through until 2022 and also enable them to kick any positive change in the dental contract into the the longest of long grass until who knows when.

Now what would you do if that happened – apart from ringing Lily Head?

What If – what’s next?

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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.

The Monday Morning Quote #388

“A master in the art of living draws no sharp distinction between his work and his play; his labour and his leisure; his mind and his body; his education and his recreation. He hardly knows which is which. He simply pursues his vision of excellence through whatever he is doing, and leaves others to determine whether he is working or playing. To himself, he always appears to be doing both.”

L.P. Jacks

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via Let My People Go Surfing by Yvon Chouinard

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

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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.

Desert Island Discs – John Timpson

I am a great fan of Desert Island Discs, it’s required listening – usually via the podcast. I was lucky enough to meet its creator Roy Plomley more than 35 years ago and found him to be as urbane and charming in the flesh as he sounded on air. A great man for asking questions in real life too. He is up there with Alistair Cooke, Brian Johnston and Wynford Vaughan Thomas in my personal list of top broadcasters.

John Timpson DiDLast Sunday was recommended for all business owners. Kirsty Young’s guest was John Timpson, chairman of the high street chain that bears his family name that was started by his great-grandfather in 1865. Timpson’s is one of those businesses to which I had not given a second thought, I was surprised to hear that it is still family owned and has more than 1,400 outlets. What an enlightened employer he seems, all staff are referred to as colleagues, they are given the day off on their birthday, have use of the company holiday homes free and are entitled to use the company’s hardship fund if money gets tight. In addition, 10% of the company’s employees have spent time in prison.

I particularly like the great deal of autonomy they are allowed in running their shops, all he asks is, “that they look smart, turn up on time and put the money in the till”, they are allowed to spend up to £500 to settle a complaint with a customer without referring to head office. He calls it ‘upside down management’.

No great fan of spending money on marketing and advertising, he says “You don’t have to be a tyrant to be successful, from all the evidence I can see you can do good and run a good business.”

Married to his late wife Alex for over 47 years, together they fostered 90 children.

He was an absolute delight to hear – great shirt and tie too – the spirit of John Harvey Jones lives on in more ways than one.

Listen here.

Lefsetz on Founders

From The Lefsetz Letter – March 13th. I don’t always agree with what Bob Lefsetz writes but I enjoy what he says and usually the way that he says it.

Founders

Don’t take no for an answer. But when their product is in the marketplace to no acclaim, to little adoption, they pivot.

He who is invested in the present will get lost in the future.

Founders remember when they were broke, what it took to gain traction, managers can do only thus. Which is why Apple is failing under Tim Cook yet burgeoned under Steve Jobs. Jobs remembered working in the garage, hustling… When Steve came back to Apple he was willing to make the big decisions, the big leaps forward, he slimmed the product line, narrowed the focus and went all in on an advertising campaign that satisfied himself, not focus groups. If you’re not willing to leave some people out, you will never succeed. Play to somebody, not everybody. Remember when Jobs famously said he was ceding the enterprise to focus on education? Today education is owned by the Chromebook. You must own something or you own nothing. Right now Apple has a huge footprint in mobile phones, but worldwide iOS is dwarfed by Android. Will the next great leap forward come from Apple? Probably not, probably from another outsider with nothing to lose who has pivoted from failure to success. There is no founder left at Apple, it’s to their detriment. There are no founders left at the major record labels, to their detriment. With the roll-up of live entertainment scrappy founders have been eviscerated, centralized buying might do well for the bottom line today, but hampers you in the future, there’s no one with their ear to the ground taking chances locally, and concert promotion will always be a local business.

Founders are not hampered by their education. The reason so many successful entrepreneurs never finished college is because college too often puts you in a box, tells you how to think, emphasizes no instead of yes.

Continues here

Why?

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I love Dog Savage’s “Savage Chickens” cartoons. I saw this one on the day after Simon Tucker’s excellent presentation at The BDA Western Counties Young Dentists Conference where he referenced Simon Sinek’s “Start With Why”.

This came at the end of a week where I had insisted/suggested that three of my clients watch Sinek’s presentation.

Makes sense to share it here then, you shouldn’t ignore synchronicity.

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