Core Values and Vision: Business Jargon or Real Direction? (Part 2)

by Dr. Ron Arndt

As we talked about last month, the best and most essential way to create a positive, interactive dental workplace is by creating two critically important documents. The first is a value-centered set of guiding principles and the second is a clear vision statement.

Dental Business VisionCore Values Guide Your Actions.

• What you will or will you not do?
• What is a right or wrong action?
• What are the rules you live by?
• What are your principles or boundaries?
• What will you take a stand for? (If nothing, are all actions acceptable?)
• What do you ask of others?

It is important to work with a team of people whose core values reflect your own. Your business philosophy comes from a basic respect for each employee’s unique needs and talents…including your own.

Once your Core Values are in writing the next step is articulating your Vision Statement. Again, the doctor must be the one to identify the vision for the practice. This is not a group effort. While some “guru’s” would have you believe that the team needs to be involved, to participate, to get many perspectives, to be one with the universe. However, the reality is, over many years the doctor is often the only sustaining team member.

Staff members come and go but the doctor is often the only remaining constant. This vision is the real direction of the practice. Now that doesn’t mean that others may have an input, it simply means that the final direction is the responsibility of the CEO.

“Vision, like self-confidence, isn’t achieved by taking a pill or reading a book. A sense of vision
grows out of a set of values, experiences, individual reflections, and organizational wisdom and direction. If we see how our work supports and contributes to the larger vision, our work will seem more meaningful and can be more directed. ~ Jerry Moskus

Similar question: what is a Vision, how do I identify it, how do I make it compelling, and how does it impact my team and my office?

Your Vision is a colorful description of how the future of your business will be. It must capture the imagination so that your employees are prepared to devote themselves to transforming that vision into a reality. A compelling vision enables employees to feel that the end results are worthwhile; it gives a sense of direction; and it provides criteria so that employees can judge what is important or irrelevant.

Your task: to write, in not more than fifty words, a compelling vision for your business. Imagine this will be presented to every employee at a special team meeting.

Use these questions to give you focus as you write your Vision:

1. What is your practice especially good at doing?
2. How are you doing competitively?
3. What changes do you expect to see in the demand for your services over the next 3-5 years?
4. What other organizations do you consider ahead of you?
5. What do these more successful businesses have that you do not have?
6. What do you use to judge success and how well are you satisfied that you are measuring important criteria?
7. What books or resources can I “tap” to galvanize my thoughts?

In addition, here are some questions you may want to ask yourself to help you to clarify, articulate, and “see” your Vision.

1. What do I want my life to be like?
2. What do I want my practice to be like?
3. What type of patients do I want?
4. What behaviors from staff and patients do I want?
5. What kind of dental care do my patients require and expect?
6. What kind of facility do I want?
7. What impact will my team have on my success?
8. How can I identify and support all my stakeholders?
9. What are my feelings about profitability and financial success?
10. How would I want to interact with my team and our patients?
11. What would my patients tell me and others about my practice?
12. What would I say about my Dream Practice every morning when I walk in the office?
13. How would my patients feel about coming to my practice?
14. What else do I need to address or include that will inspire my team?

So, your Vision, supported by your Core Values serves as a compass. It lets you know where you are and what direction to go in when faced with several options. It is generally a lofty, inspiring statement of the ultimate destination of your practice. Ultimately it will enable you to: 1) Identify the very best destination. Do not settle for the second best option. 2) Support the highest principles that will guide your actions. 3) Describe the “big picture.” And 4) Identify outcomes you hope/intend to achieve.

Then utilize those documents to reinforce the values and goals of the practice. It is important that all team members own the core values and vision of the practice.

Every communication in the practice (e.g. all documents and policies) should be crafted around and support the values and vision. After creating the values and vision, team meetings and workshops need to be held on a regular basis to discuss progress in applying the shared values.

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