4.15.16 Issue #736 info@mckenziemgmt.com 1-877-777-6151 Forward This Newsletter
 

Jonathan Gale, Ph.D.
Leadership Coach
McKenzie Management
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Strategic Planning for Your Dental Practice
By Jonathan Gale, Ph.D.

Running a dental practice can be chaotic at times. It is easy to get sucked into the day-to-day operations required to keep things running smoothly and profitably. By taking the time to invest in a strategic planning process, you as the leader are saying, “I am ready to take this business to the next stage of success.”

The following list should help you see the benefits of creating a Strategic Plan, or updating yours if you have one but cannot remember what it says. Without vision, any business necessarily gravitates toward “firefighting.” Here is how you can lift yourself back up to the leadership level and set a clear and realizable direction.

1. Articulate Your Vision – Your Purpose, Mission & Core Values
Creating, articulating and sticking to your vision is the single most important job you have as a leader. A clear vision is needed to guide and influence your strategic planning process. Have you ever asked yourself, “What is the purpose of my business?” If not, take time to explore this – you might be surprised by what you will come up with.

Once you have clearly articulated why your business exists, it is time to identify the concrete “what” behind it; the 3-5 year Mission you are embarking on. Your Mission should be bold, inspirational and compelling. Status quo is not inspiring.

With your Purpose and Mission in place, the last piece you need is Core Values. This is the “how” of your business. Core Values should articulate what is already true about your business and culture; not how you want it to be:

• How do you go about your work?
• What do you value in yourself and your staff?
• What characteristics do you want your customers to experience?

These are your Core Values.

Once you have your Purpose, Mission and Core Values in place, it is your job, or your Office Manager’s, to hire, train and also fire employees who do not align.

2. Understand How Strategy Drives the Plan
To determine the strategies to achieve your Mission, examine the practice strengths that you can employ to achieve a strong return on your investments. Look for resources and capabilities you can leverage for maximum gain. To develop a competitive advantage that is sustainable, I recommend focusing on no more than 3-5 core strengths.

Think of strategy as an exercise in saying “no.” Focus is an incredible thing. Think about the power that is achieved when you focus a magnifying glass on a very small area. By focusing your resources on a few core areas, you maximize your chances of success.

Remember: Identify 3-5 strategies that are borne out of your greatest strengths, all highly focused on achieving your Mission.

3. Link Your Vision to the Annual and Quarterly Priorities
It can sometimes be a challenge to bridge the gap between your long-term vision and the daily operations. Create a Strategy Planning Methodology by breaking down your current Mission into the annual and quarterly priorities you need to complete in order to achieve the Mission. The work of the quarterly priorities can then be broken down into SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-Bound) objectives that are owned by staff and have deliverables.

4. Establish a Rhythm for Success
Strategic planning is not a one-time event. Once you have laid out your strategy, it is crucial to stay focused over the long-term. Schedule a steady rhythm of productive meetings: annually; quarterly; monthly; weekly and sometimes daily. During these meetings, evaluate the plan, what is working and what needs adjustment. It might be challenging to make all these meetings, but you could easily spend much more time putting out daily “fires” that would not be there with a proper plan in place.

Thinking of staff performance, consider the impact of knowing your Vision and having processes and procedures in place for getting you there: Where performance is measured, performance improves. Where performance is reported, performance improves dramatically.

At the end of every quarter, run through a SWOT exercise with your staff, looking at Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats, to update and fine-tune your Strategic Plan. You could also take it a step further and evaluate the accomplishments, lessons learned and strategic issues from the quarter.

Effective strategic planning is the linchpin for your long-term business success. Grounded in your Purpose, Mission and Core Values, a solid strategy can help you develop a plan of action and maximize the likelihood of success in achieving your vision.

Dr. Gale provides coaching and training to enhance leadership skills, interpersonal communications and team building. If you would like to learn more, contact him at jgalephd@mckenziemgmt.com

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