Lab Business Coach – top tips for improving your lab

big pictureIn his first Lab Business Coach column, Mark Oborn explains how some people like to see the big picture, whilst others prefer the detail.

What’s your chunk size?

Chunk size… Horrible name I know, but that’s what this ‘filter’ is called. We all have filters in our brain that filter the world around us so we can make sense of it.

This filter looks at the size of the chunk of information that we can process at any given time.

There are two discernible chunk sizes:

  1. Big picture – this is the largest chunk of information that it’s possible to give anyone about a specific topic. It gives the overall plan, the big picture, where are we going, what’s the point? A good example is a full mouth treatment plan. Here the big picture is to restore function to the patient’s bite, ease condular pain and improve the smile line
  2. Detail – this is the smallest chunk of information that it’s possible to give anyone about a specific topic. It is essentially the contents of the big picture. In our treatment plan example the detail is crowning the upper anteriors with zirconia crowns, and opening the bite with a Dahl appliance.

Most of us will want all of the information, but it’s in which order we like to receive it – that’s the real key to understand.

  1. Some people like the big picture first. They like to know the overall plan of where they are going and can’t cope with the detail until they know where all of that detail fits in with the big picture
  2. Some people like the detail first. They like to know the fine detail and can’t conceive the big picture until they know what the detail is. They can then work out how it all fits together.

Neither is wrong, and it’s important to understand that different people like to perceive and receive information differently.

Some patients might prefer a big picture first treatment plan, which leads gently into the detail.

Some patients might prefer a detail-first treatment plan, which gently leads into the big picture.

So ask them: ‘When I present this treatment plan to you, would you like the big picture or the detail first?’

The psychology of a dentist

This is where I think it gets interesting. Dentists are often brilliant at going from big picture to micro detail in the blink of an eye.

‘Hello Mrs Jones, I haven’t seen you for six months, what’s been happening in your life?’ (big picture). ‘Now let’s look at the mesio-buccal cusp of your LL6’ ( micro-detail).

You do this everyday – big picture to micro-detail really fast.

It’s what you do.

But not everyone thinks the same way.

So be aware – dentists have a tendency to think big picture down to micro-detail incredibly fast.

This works fabulously in the clinical setting. But when you extrapolate this to communicating with your patients and team and thinking about your business, it’s easy for dentists to miss out a whole load of incredibly useful information that sits in the middle.

And when we are communicating with others or thinking about managing our business, that information in the middle is vital to our success.


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