A change can start right now!

July 1, 1998
The one-minute change. No, it`s not a new best-selling book that I will soon be featuring in "Pearls" as a "must buy." But it could be a free pearl waiting to be discovered. Dentists and dental trade people across the country often tell me about the rigors of change. I listen as dentists tell me how hard it is to make changes within their practices. I listen to manufacturers and distributors tell me how hard it is to motivate their sales reps to embrace a new idea.

Joe Blaes, DDS, Editor

e-mail: [email protected]

The one-minute change. No, it`s not a new best-selling book that I will soon be featuring in "Pearls" as a "must buy." But it could be a free pearl waiting to be discovered. Dentists and dental trade people across the country often tell me about the rigors of change. I listen as dentists tell me how hard it is to make changes within their practices. I listen to manufacturers and distributors tell me how hard it is to motivate their sales reps to embrace a new idea.

I picked up a copy of The Pursuit of WOW by Tom Peters after listening to a speaker describe "WOW" in a dental office. I read the book on a flight to somewhere and was very impressed about Tom`s thoughts on change. I have paraphrased his ideas and adapted them to the dental practice. Here goes!

All change really boils down to this: You do it and it`s done! How do you go on an effective diet? How do you stop smoking? How do you stop drinking? I recently started a diet after I realized that I was eating my way across the United States and quickly growing out of my clothes. I decided this was crazy and started a diet.

I work hard every day to lose weight and achieve my goal. But the beginning was a quick decision to do it.

When I stopped smoking years ago, I attended "Smoke-Enders." For five weeks, we prepared to stop smoking, but eventually it came down to throwing away my pack of cigarettes and quitting! Since then, I have worked hard not to start again.

The founder of IBM, Thomas Watson, once said, "If you want to achieve excellence, you can get there today. Just quit doing less-than-excellent work right now." What a simple and yet very profound statement. You can have a quality practice from this minute on just by no longer doing less than quality work.

Suppose you decide to set your practice apart with standards for providing outstanding service to your patients. How? You simply start now. You will have to listen to some tapes, read some books on customer service (check out the business section of your book store), take some seminars with your staff, and visit some other offices that you can model. You will make some mistakes. Some things you try will not be natural for you. But always, you are moving ahead, learning more, and getting better.

By this time, you probably are thinking that I am crazy. There is much more to change than that! But there isn`t. Ask a friend in Alcoholic Anonymous about change. Their 12-step program is the most effective change system around.

The point is that you will either change in a second - or never. The shift of mind-set is an all-or-nothing deal.

I get tired listening to dentists who complain about how they cannot make changes in their offices because it takes too long. That is defeatist talk, pure and simple! It takes forever to maintain change ("One day at a time," according to AA); but it takes just a flash to achieve change of even the most profound sort. Change is that simple. Go for it!

I recently participated in the Ethics Summit I, sponsored by the American College of Dentists. The goal of the summit was to promote ethical dialogue, conduct, and reasoning within the greater dental community. The conference was unique and was the first time that leaders for many different constituencies met in an interactive format to establish baseline dialogue in ethics.

I would like to call your attention to several outstanding articles and an ongoing series. Be sure to read the entire "How to Profit From Cosmetic Dentistry" articles; they are really great! Don`t miss Dr. Mike Schuster`s article on "less is more;" I think he has drawn the blueprint for the future of dentistry. Dr. Jim Pride finishes his financial series by showing how to increase the take-home dollars from your practice, so you will have the money to invest in your retirement plan. Dick Biggs continues his 12-part series on Balancing your life: How to be more intentional, think more clearly, do more consistently, and have what really matters. Enjoy!

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