By Roger P. Levin, DDS
There are two schools of thought on decision-making. The first school says that the owner, entrepreneur, and leader has the best insights on how to build the business and should use an autocratic method of decision-making. In other words, just make the decisions and politely and positively tell other people what has been decided. The second school of thought is to include the team in all decisions. This includes brainstorming, discussing, getting feedback, and coming to a consensus. It doesn’t have to be unanimous, but it does need to be a strong majority.
Both approaches have their merits. Some management gurus proclaim that being autocratic is always bad, but there are many times when it’s essential. Others claim that the team should always be included regardless of whether they have the necessary expertise, knowledge, or insight to make an informed decision. The reality is that there are certain times that autocratic decisions need to be made and other times when team-based decisions need to be made. There is no one right way of making decisions except waiting too long and harming the business because a decision cannot be made.
For the orthodontic practices, the best way to approach decision-making is to determine how essential the decision is to the future success of the orthodontic practice. Decisions such as moving an office, hiring an associate, even changing practice management software or bracket systems might be better handled at the autocratic level where the practice leader makes the decision after performing the necessary research and investigation. Then there are other decisions—hiring a professional relations coordinator to manage the referral marketing program, acquiring another ortho assistant, expanding the number of patients based on the number of chairs, changing fees, or altering the collection process— which fall into the team-based decision-making category. For these types of decisions, input from the team can be invaluable in terms of understanding all the aspects of the issue and what the best decision might be.
Ultimately, the most important factor about decision-making is “making the decision”. Of course, you will get some things wrong. In fact, some practices get a lot of things wrong and yet they are still extremely successful. It’s better to make the decision and finalize an action plan than to make no decision at all. If you find out later that you’ve made a bad decision you can always deal with it at that time.
Roger P. Levin, DDS is the CEO and Founder of Levin Group, a leading practice management consulting firm that has worked with over 30,000 practices to increase production. A recognized expert on dental practice management and marketing, he has written 67 books and over 4,000 articles and regularly presents seminars in the U.S. and around the world. To contact Dr. Levin or to join the 40,000 dental professionals who receive his Practice Production Tip of the Day, visit www.levingroup.com or email firstname.lastname@example.org.