It’s a mystery that many dentists spend a lot of time trying to puzzle out: How is that some practitioners greatly outperform others who are doing essentially the same kinds of procedures in the same marketplace?
Are they more naturally skilled as clinicians? Sometimes, maybe—but not as often or by as much as many people believe.
Do they have “better” patients? Even allowing for regional demographical differences, patients are patients and they tend to be motivated by the same things in every practice.
Are they just lucky? I doubt it. Most top performers are consistently top performers and nobody stays that lucky for that long.
Still, when you talk to someone who is struggling and you outline some of the very specific strategies and skills that these successful dentists have mastered —some of the clinical skills, team-alignment methods, value creation techniques, technology-optimizing skills, entrepreneurial strategies—you often get a response like: “I tried that. It didn’t work for me.” But the thing is, it often didn’t work for them, either—at least not at first.
In his ground-breaking book, Good to Great, Jim Collins talks about what he calls the “Flywheel Effect”—how a flywheel requires a lot of force and concentrated effort to get going and keep going until momentum takes hold. But when that momentum boost comes, the effect is phenomenal.
Those dentists who are seeing outstanding results are succeeding not because they’ve discovered tricks nobody else knows about, but because they were willing to do what it takes to push past the initial resistance that comes with implementing change and see it through until the momentum takes over.
For the rest of the pack—those who “tried that” and gave up when they didn’t see immediate results in exchange for their considerable efforts— the sad reality is that they will probably never know how close they were to experiencing that exhilarating breakthrough. They’ll continue to look at those who are leading the profession and wonder what they’re doing differently. It will continue to be a mystery.