DEBRA MILLER | DIRECTOR OF COACHING
I don’t know any more about elephants than the average person, but I am confident that taking care of an elephant requires specialized skills. If I were responsible for one, I would strive to be much better than the average elephant caregiver. I would want my elephant to be as happy and healthy as possible.
You are responsible for an elephant, in the form of your practice. Endodontists go to dental school, not business school, so most endodontists learn business ownership by necessity and by the seat of their pants. As a result, endodontic practice owners understand business ownership better than the general population. That much is true.
But what if my question was whether you understand business ownership better than your colleagues, who are also endodontic practice owners? Most doctors would answer that they are average, which actually means that they don’t know for sure. That’s a huge blindspot because you should know how well you are doing at making your practice “as happy and healthy as possible.”
Overcoming Your Blindspot
How does my practice appear to a referring doctor? How does my team appear to a referring An ancient elephant parable tells the story about how 6 blind men each touched different parts of the elephant to describe it. Depending on what part they touched, they formed different perspectives on what an elephant is. The tail is a rope, the side is a wall, the ear is a fan, the leg is a tree, the tusk is a spear, and the trunk is snake. None of them had the full picture.
Endodontists spend the vast majority of their time focused on treatment. That’s a great perspective on clinical care for the doctor. But heads-down in the operatory on a daily basis is a very limited perspective as a business owner, and it is the source of many blindspots and missed opportunities.
If clinical care is the heart of the practice, then viewing your practice from the position of a doctor in the operatory is akin to looking from the inside out. As a practice owner, you need to look at your practice from the outside in. Here are some perspective questions you should cultivate to overcome blindspots. Think about each one as a blind man touching just one part of your practice. What do they sense and what conclusions do they reach?
● How does my practice appear to a referring doctor? How does my team appear to a referring doctor’s team?
● How do I compare with other endodontists in my area? What is unique or different about my practice compared to those practices? What do I or my team do better than other endodontists and their teams? Where are we deficient?
● What perception do patients have when they speak to my practice on the phone? What first impressions are created by my facility and team when the patient arrives. What experience does the patient have during their appointment?
● What is the experience of team members who work in my practice? Beyond clinical care, what would my team describe as my main priorities as a business leader?
● What is my family’s perception of my practice, my responsibilities, and my work schedule?
● If I was a different doctor who was buying my practice, what opportunities would I see that have not been taken? What deficiencies or limitations have been allowed to persist?
● How do I feel as the owner of my practice? Have I achieved my vision?
● How would an outside coach view my practice and opportunities?
The last question, obviously, relates very closely to Endo Mastery. It’s what we do. Most doctors have difficulty developing their “outside in” perspective for two reasons. The first reason, already mentioned, is that delivering clinical care is the heart of the practice. You can’t be everywhere else at the same time. Second, most doctors don’t have the broad-based knowledge across the whole profession to evaluate their practices objectively. As a result, most doctors vastly underestimate their opportunities for improvement and growth, and fail to act on those opportunities.
As coaches, we see this pattern everyday. Doctors are astounded by the level of growth they can achieve, how quickly they achieve it, and how blind they were to those possibilities before they started coaching. The light goes on once you shift your perspective and start asking the right questions.