The secret of success

Saturday 26 September was notable for the loss of Bernard Dunne’s World title at the O2 arena in Dublin. Later that night I reminisced on the loss with hotel owner and erstwhile property mogul and developer Sean Dunne, who I happened to bump into, in the D4 hotel in Ballsbridge.

We were waiting for Bernard to return to the hotel where he was based, however a hospital stay deprived us of the chance to commiserate with him. Having boxed in college and always loved the sport, it would have been great to attend the fight but another event at the hotel was my reason for being there, rather than hanging out with one-time developers!

The 25th anniversary of the graduation of the UCC Dental School class of 1984 was the reason over half our class, 15 in all and partners, attended a meal and late night reunion.

I’ve always remembered the film Peter’s Friends when thinking of reunions, and they can sometimes be awkward but this one went off perfectly. As we shared memories and life events over the evening and late into the night, it was nice to think that deep down we had so many things in common. Eventually seven of us struggled home at 4.30 in the morning.

Reflecting later, I thought how we were all born of that womb that was Cork Dental School in 1984 and although we had diversified into academia, the Public Dental Service and general practice, each of us had followed the same formula in our own endeavours. In effect, we copied a successful model while constantly striving to improve. Copying success, whether clinically or in management, is the critical aspect in achieving a result.

As I’ve said before, we should all be clinical masters by now – certainly after 25 years! One area we must work at is improving the customer experience, whether that be for patients in general practice or public dental service or students in academia. Looking beyond dentistry for expertise in this area, one need not look any further than Disney. Since Disneyland Paris opened in May 1992, the Seward family has visited there a few times. We’ve never been disappointed with our experience and never had any regrets (although always overspending!).

A new book, Creating Magic, by the former executive vice president of operations, Lee Cockerill, is possibly the best business book I’ve read in years. In it he explains how he planned, managed and opened Disneyland Paris. He also shares the 10 leadership strategies he devised over this period. He has now developed these in the Disney Institute, where the Disney way is taught to many outside the entertainment industry. I plan to explore his ideas in the next ‘Outlook’.

Finally, thanks are owed to Joan Nolan who organised the reunion – a thankless job but wonderfully carried out. We can now plan for our 30th, with the goal of a full house and, perhaps, Disneyland Paris!

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