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    What almost killed Microsoft — and what dentists should learn from it

    One of the biggest companies on the planet almost destroyed itself, but there's a lesson in its failure.

     

    The first thing Microsoft did was commit to do whatever it takes to right the ship. This meant switching from a divisional design to a functional corporate design, organized more like Apple.

    A divisional design basically makes each product its own little company, down to its own profit and loss. With a functional design, every dollar earned or spent affects the company as a whole. Now, every team affected every other team. No more “we’re great, they suck.” They had to succeed together.

    Related article: The difference between employees and team members

    Then, heavens be praised, they dumped stack ranking. Now, people were free to focus on taking risks and improving the company without trying to game rubrics and edge out their coworkers.

    The changes turned the company around. Today, in 2018, Microsoft is trading for $90.00.

    Microsoft nearly lost everything Bill Gates had built because they adopted bad systems. At one point, the divisional design and the stack rating probably looked like great ideas. Maybe they were more efficient, or seemed simpler. But the people who put them in place didn’t think carefully about incentives, or how making life easier for HR would affect the business as a whole.

    What steps do you need to take to ensure you’re not creating systems, in the name of efficiency or otherwise, that will cause more problems than they solve? Ask yourself these 3 questions as you plan for the future of the practice.

    What is our mission statement, purpose or vision?

    While this might sound hokey, people follow leaders. To lead, you must know where you’re going, or at least where you’d like to go. Does your team know your 3, 5 and 10-year goals? Do you know your 3, 5 and 10-year goals? Maybe start with a next-week goal and build up. I’m not even kidding.

    How am I developing my team?

    Any team needs to make a simple commitment: “We agree to be better this year than we were last year.” What have you done to make sure every single person on the team can say “I have improved?” CE is great, but personal development can be better. You don’t hire roles, you hire people.

    Related article: 6 easy steps to making sure your new hire becomes a great hire

    Try things

    If being uncomfortable is the worst thing that can happen, you need to push the envelope. Track and measure new scripts and tactics. Commit to everyone just thinking about crazy ideas for 30 minutes rather than another useless staff meeting. You’re surrounded by minds — use them!

    At the end of the day, what saved Microsoft wasn’t a new invention or innovation (We certainly didn’t buy the Zune). It was proper leadership combined with a more focused mission and fully engaged workforce.

    Chris Moriarity, MA, FA, MBA
    Seen on HGTV and with Shark Tank's Damon John, Mr. Moriarity, MA, FA, MBA (2020) spent years working with attorneys and physicians ...

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