Is the desire to change enough?

Lottie Abbotts explains why some dental practices are able to make the transition from solid performance and satisfactory results to being top performers.

To transform a business from being merely ‘good’ to being ‘great’ requires change, and this encounters a fundamental challenge: in general, people do not like change. For change to happen, it requires several factors to simultaneously come together and create what some might call a ‘perfect storm’.

In dental practices the key drivers for change come mainly from the desire of the practice owner or principal because they recognise the tangible benefits that change can bring and because they appreciate the untapped opportunities within their business. Sometimes the vision is driven by a need to change due to unforeseen external circumstances and often by a recognition that the business needs to create inherent value, usually in preparation for sale or when a new owner takes the reins for the first time. For the team, change needs to work in terms of security of employment, and better working conditions.

Whatever the positive reasons for change, if it is driven by fear it is never a good basis for decision-making. Many change programmes fail because they lack accountability, credibility and authenticity, so it is important that change is initiated as a positive force for the betterment of the business, and the team. Importantly, to effect change, managers needs to take the team with them on the journey.


Working through change as a team is one of the single most important criteria for success. Ensuring that each individual understands the aims and objectives of the business and appreciates the role that they personally play in helping achieve the overall goals is important, both for the individual’s sense of self-worth and also because it makes a huge difference to the ability to implement change. In the same way, giving feedback to the team as a whole and to individuals will enable them to learn where they can make a difference. A daily huddle, before the working day begins, ensures everyone knows their objectives and understands the aims for the day. This is a great way to start building a motivated team. Discussing challenges when things don’t go according to plan and celebrating success as a team, will engender a spirit of cooperation and result in a better business ethos.

As a leader it’s important to ensure the practice is filled with skilled people in the right jobs. By structuring the workflow in this way, the team will help to improve performance organically and drive the business forward.

Getting the right people to be an integral part of the business works on several layers; good people tend to work well with other good people and the sum of all the parts is always greater than the individuals themselves. Also, the right type of people tend to be self-motivated, so although they need to be kept up to date and want business transparency, they are also personally driven by the prospect of being part of a winning team. People are important, particularly in a relationship-driven business such as a dental practice, and you can only achieve your vision if you are surrounded by a willing, ambitious team.

Effective change

In the Software of Excellence whitepaper Performance Monitoring – the Gateway to Sustained Practice Growth, we explored the importance of dentists thinking not only about how to enhance patient’s experience by delivering high-quality dentistry, but also encouraged them to see their practice as a business. One startling fact that was revealed during the research was that 80% of practice owners admitted to not knowing enough about their business performance. In the face of this lack of knowledge, the whitepaper identified a number of areas in which practice owners could easily implement different tactics to encourage and effect change management.

The desire to change is a cornerstone of the drive for improved performance, but without knowledge of data and the support of a motivated and focused team, a vision is all a practice owner or principal will have. Turning the vision into reality takes more than simple desire. Knowledge, data analysis and a deep understanding of the potential of the business are crucial factors in the journey from good to great.

To follow practices that have already started their journey from good to great or to begin your own journey with us, visit the website

Get the most out of your membership by subscribing to Dentistry CPD
  • Access 600+ hours of verified CPD courses
  • Includes all GDC recommended topics
  • Powerful CPD tracking tools included
Register for webinar
Add to calendar