Does Your Business Function as an Organism or a Machine?

Are you building an enterprise to fulfil your dentrepreneur-ial dream? Just starting out, perhaps? Or starting over? Energy and optimism are important, but you have to be intentional about what it is that you’re building. There’s common praise for businesses that run “like a well-oiled machine” but in our field, it’s best to leave the mechanical comparisons behind.

The possibilities in dentistry are endless nowadays, and whatever you can dream will have a market waiting for it somewhere. But with depressingly low retention rates, and the natural tendency to lose patients like a leaky pipe, even the best ideas can fail. There’s a lot to be said for a well-designed machine, but the best businesses are those that function like a hardy organism.

From my many years of advising and guiding dentrepreneurs just like you, I can tell you the ingredients for success—and they’re mostly staffing, hiring, and training decisions. Whether you are a solopreneur, emerging large group practice, or a one-roof group—what you build needs a strong foundation of players that can work together, adapt together, and innovate together.

If you approach filling your vacancies as finding “competent cogs,” you’ll never see the self-sustaining growth of an organism.

Organisms and Machines – What is the difference?

  • Machines are rigid and repetitive; organisms are flexible and adapt to their environment.
  • Machines break down if just one cog fails; organisms can self-heal and correct.
  • Machines accomplish a task and repeat; organisms respond and react.
  • Cogs don’t communicate; organisms are composed of responsive interconnected systems.
  • Organisms are self-sustaining. Even when accomplishing discrete tasks, they act on their own behalf!

No One Wants to Be a Cog, and Patients Don’t Want to be Doctored by a Machine!

Having an office in which every cog is well-placed and functional may feel like success, but machines are built to accomplish one specific task. Organisms accomplish many tasks with the collective goal of thriving. Which sounds better to you?

In the human body, the respiratory system brings oxygen into the body, the lungs bring that oxygen to the heart, and the heart delivers it to each organ, so it can function at its best. Each part serves itself and the whole. If the nose is blocked, the mouth can bring oxygen in, too. If the heart is pumping too fast, the nervous system gets a memo and we know to slow down. Flexibility, multi-functioning, and communication are what keeps our bodies thriving!

Your business cannot be a machine that delivers the one product of great oral care, because great oral care is not going to be the same “product” for every patient. Your dental group or practice needs to meet patients halfway and deliver a care experience that goes beyond merely doctoring the teeth. Patients don’t want their care provided by a machine.  When you create a culture of competence and collective responsibility, you enhance every patient’s experience. You also add efficiency and increase your profitability.

How to Do It

I’ve frequently talked about the importance of building your emerging dental group on the principle that every hire should be a leader in their own right, no matter what position you’re filling. Having the right people working for you is the most critical aspect of adding value to what you’re selling. You find (and build) those people when you hire for attitude and invest in in the skill sets of your people.

To learn how to do this, contact us today! We’ll have a conversation about where you are, where you want to be, and the best way to get you there! Stay connected with us for more tips on joining and building a dental group practice.

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