Built to last

How are you ensuring that your practice is built to last for 100 years, Alun Rees questions.

Change in dentistry is happening at a faster rate than ever.

Whether it is in our understanding of diseases, use of digital technology or deployment of personnel, it reflects the ‘VUCA’ world in which we live.

VUCA (volatile, uncertain, complex, ambiguous) is an acronym first employed by the US military and now adopted to describe business conditions.

Most dental businesses were never built to last.

Established to deal with the ravages of one, or perhaps two, main diseases they are often reactive rather than proactive and slow to adapt to threats and opportunities.

Built to last

Recently, I have taken to challenging some of my clients by asking them what they are going to do to ensure that their practice lasts for 100 years.

I was inspired after watching the TED talk given by strategist Martin Reeves where he discussed the necessity for all businesses to develop systems learnt from those of human immunology where long-term survival is key.

For success and longevity all businesses must be prudent, ready to diversify when appropriate and have an ability to adapt to changes in their marketplace and environment.

Without these three abilities they will not develop and maintain the resilience required to survive.

Short-term profits

The current emphasis is on short-term performance and profit.

Due to the rise of dental corporates and smaller chains funded by leveraging large borrowings, this has been taken as normal behaviour.

The recent ‘re-structuring’ of some larger concerns makes me question the sustainability of this model.

We need to regularly and routinely take stock and ask ourselves what model of practice best serves our patients now and in two decades.

We can’t expect to see a hundred years ahead but we can build a business with solid foundations for current and future success that can anticipate change and ride the waves.

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