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    Why dental associates often fail

    Viewing an associate as an apprentice rather than a subordinate can make a world of difference.

    When I see a persistent problem in the dental industry, I don’t search for solutions in the same place others ordinarily would. Why? Because others typically look for solutions where there is the least power. Most people look for solutions that are either more, better or different — but the same thing they’re already doing. Although they might spend plenty of time and money working on these solutions, rarely does the effort pay off.

    Some people are entrepreneurial and inventive enough to experiment with new solutions. Unfortunately, trying to create new solutions to chronic problems doesn’t have a great success rate.

    Why do these efforts fail or under-deliver? The answer is invariably the same: because the context is not right.

    Context is the source of the problem, not the solution. If one changes the source of the problem, the problem gets resolved with far less effort, stress and politics. That’s why I look at context first.

    More from the author: Why artificial intelligence is the future of dentistry

    Yes, I understand that context has no form. Yes, I know that context doesn’t exist in time and space. But I also know that context is the master of the content within it.

    For most businesses, in the absence of a strategically and consciously created context, managers are often enslaved by their issues and circumstances. Without a strategically and consciously created context, the forces and circumstances imprison the company’s culture, resources and people.

    Once a strategically and consciously developed context is produced, a process unfolds in which the content — the forces and the circumstances — reorder and align themselves with the new context. Changing the context alters the way people relate to each other. Shifting the context changes how forces and circumstances are perceived. Disrupting the context breaks employees’ captivity to forces and circumstances and opens new pathways to solutions — ones not able to be recognized in the old context.

    Why does changing the context have such power? Because the context is decisive. Context is superior-ordinate. Context is conclusive. Context rules. I have looked into the context of dental associates in group practices, and what follows are my observations.

    Up next: The context of an associate...

    Dr. Marc Cooper
    Dr. Cooper's professional career includes private periodontist, academician, researcher, teacher, practice management consultant, ...


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