Strategic planning explained by Chris Barrow


I would advise all dental practices to undertake strategic planning and the reason for this can be illustrated with a little story by Dan Sullivan, the founder of The Strategic Coach. Strategic planning is the equivalent of standing on a beach to watch the line where sky meets the sea – the horizon – and deciding to take a closer look. You jump in the water and start swimming, wondering how long it’s going to take to get to that line. The answer, of course, is forever. The horizon is a mental construct that we create in order to make sense of what it is that we see before us.

In the same way, strategic planning enables you to make sense of what you’re doing with your business. Otherwise, you’re going into work every day and performing the same tasks, but there’s no context to it, no goal. Unless you have a long-term destination in mind, then what you’ve actually got is just a job. You’re standing on the beach looking out to sea and not understanding what it is that you’re looking at. There’s no ‘grand plan’.

Sea of change

Without exception, all organisations need an overall strategy and they must devise a set of tactics in order to achieve that strategy.

Say you open up a dental practice, recruit your team and turn up for work every day to see your patients and perform treatment. What else do you need to do over the next 10, 15 or 20 years? Well, one of the most important things is to take into account all of the internal and external changes taking place around your business. Internal changes include staff, premises, pricing, equipment and compliance; basically, all of the day-to-day factors that influence your practice.

External factors could be the economy, the legislative position of dentistry, competition from supermarkets and corporates, and the changing needs of the population. For example, up until about 10 years ago, the great British public were quite happy to spend their lives having crooked, misshapen, discoloured teeth. Nowadays that’s changed; everybody wants straight, white and clean teeth.

Going swimmingly

To have an overall strategy is essential and with the help of a business coach you can develop a set of tactics that complement your strategy and keep you on track. Here’s the secret to success: it’s all about the journey, and every progressive business always sets their strategy three to five years ahead. 

Every 12 months you review and renew your strategy based on the changing internal and external conditions, and set appropriate tactics to keep your business moving in the right direction. 

So, perhaps it’s time to ask yourself, what does your vision of the future look like?


Stay in touch with the Barrow Kwong Hing Group:




Twitter: Chris Barrow @ChrisBKH, Dr Al Kwong Hing @AlanBKH

Chris Barrow has been a consultant to the dental profession for 17 years. He is the co-founder and managing director of the BKH Group of companies and runs Chris Barrow Live At BKH, which offers high-end coaching expertise to take advanced practices to the next level. For more information about Chris Barrow Live at BKH please call 0161 820 5466 or email Chris Barrow at [email protected]

Become a Dentistry Online member

Become a member
Register for webinar
"Company" would like to send you relevant email communications to this webinar, by opting in to receive these emails you are agreeing to be sent email communications by "Company".
You can opt-out at any time.
Add to calendar