How would you finish that sentence in relation to your dental practice?
Take a minute or two to think about it, with no ‘barriers’ or ‘reasons why not’ to get in the way. Allow yourself to dream a little, unencumbered by everything that’s going on in your practice right now. Here are a few examples of what you might think about:
- Wouldn’t it be great if I could attract and retain more new patients?
- Wouldn’t it be great if I could reduce my days in practice and increase my profit levels at the same time?
- Wouldn’t it be great if all the team were working at the top of their game?
For each statement you come up with, have a think and then ask yourself how you can do two things:
- Quantify it (wouldn’t it be great if I could attract and retain 10 new patients a month?)
- Stretch it beyond your comfort zone (wouldn’t it be great if I could attract 20 new patients a month, with an average first-year spend of £2,000 each).
If you’ve managed to do this, congratulations, you’ve just created one or more stretch goals for your practice. A stretch goal is a goal that cannot be achieved simply by doing what you currently do, a bit better. It is a goal that can only be achieved by doing something ‘different and better’. As such, stretch goals are a great catalyst to creative thinking and to generate new ideas.
You can use stretch goals as the starting point for team discussions and strategy sessions. Approach them with an open mind and be prepared to explore lots of different ideas before you start to apply any judgement on their relative merits, judgement too early in the process is the killer of creativity.
Think about the things you do now in relation to your stretch goal and ‘challenge’ why you currently do the things you do – is there a specific reason why you do things in a certain way, or is it simply because you’ve always done it that way?
Be prepared to think around the problem and explore all of the alternative ways in which you could approach the stretch goal. There might be a solution that is a combination of different ideas. And don’t be afraid to throw some silly ideas into the mix – some of the best and most practical solutions can often come from the most unlikely of sources.
Once you’ve come up with a number of ideas, whittle them down to the few that you believe have the best potential to help you achieve your goals, and then formulate them into a plan with clear timescales, priorities and responsibilities.
Then ask yourself if there are any ‘quick wins’ that will help you get the ball rolling. Focusing on implementing the quick wins will help to develop momentum for the project and stimulate team buy-in.
Finally, remember the famous quote from Henry Ford: ‘Whether you think you can, or whether you think you can’t…you are right!’