THINKING BUSINESS
a blog by Chris Barrow

The Crew

Imagine you are aboard a transatlantic flight – 250 of you, bound for a weekend of Christmas shopping in New York. In the aircraft – the cabin crew – stewards and hostesses serving drinks and food, selling consumables, raising charity funds, looking after everyone’s idiosyncrasies – keeping a special eye on the nervous. In the cockpit – the air crew – pilot, co-pilot, navigator. The pilot mainly looks after the fiddly bits – take off, landing, mid-course manoeuvres – in fact, anything that needs his special attention, based on years of experience. The co-pilot is on a steep (sorry) learning curve. Flying the plane for periods of time, assisting with the fiddly bits, there just in case the pilot drops dead of a heart attack. The navigator can fly the darn thing (just in case both pilots drop) but is there mainly to keep them on course – because at 35,000 feet and 600 miles an hour, a degree “off” can land (sorry) you in deep trouble. The navigator has a map. Finally, the auto-pilot, there during periods of the flight to do really easy things, like fly in a straight line without deviation. In the cockpit – more dials and read-outs then you have ever seen in your life – data, information, metrics – all designed to activate warnings if anything goes wrong or appears unusual. That’s a lot of people and a lot of information. Because killing people is rotten brand management, no matter how cheap the seat. Even Ryanair wouldn’t make the journey without the air crew and the metrics – would they? Now think about your dental practice. Who are the cabin staff? Who are the air crew? Who is the pilot, the co-pilot and the navigator. If you are all three in your business, you are in trouble. If you are all three and serving food and drink (scale and polish and fillings) you are in trouble. If your co-pilot is part-time or busy serving drinks, you are in trouble. If you have no navigator, you have no idea where you are going to end up or when – you just fly until you run out of gas and then fall from the sky. Where is the map? Without one you are in trouble. A dental practice without a crew is an accident waiting to happen. An empty cockpit and a burned out pilot is a frightening prospect. A miserable, underpaid, unappreciated, poorly-trained crew is a message of doom to be spread far and wide. You flying as hard as you can, with no direction in mind, is just waiting for a mountainside to loom out of the mist. One justifiably pissed off patient at the GDC and you will feel a large weight drop out of the sky on your head. Get it right – the risks are too high. Oh – and by the way – a coach is a navigator – you need one.

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