January is flying by. I attribute this to the polar vortex that has been tunneling through the Midwest. Actually, as I was saying to two people last night at the North American Veterinary Conference, I have no idea what the polar vortex actually is, but it is fun to say and seems to impart a sort of meteorological competence to the discussion of why it has been so ridiculously cold in Minnesota this winter. And, somehow, I've also related it to time passing quickly.

For those who are new to the blog, it is being used as a mechanism in which we can strengthen our individual business practices by working on the same things at the same time. A sort of convergent business evolution, if you will. Input is welcomed and any information that helps you in your practice will most likely be helpful to others, so share your findings.

We are going to move into this process of convergent business evolution gradually increasing our activity as we become more comfortable doing it. January is going to be for reflection. It is the month of looking back at last year's successes and failures to see what we want to continue and what we want to compost in our individual practices.

How did the exercises and action plans in the previous blog work in your clinic or hospital? Were you able to do the exercises in last week's article? Any surprises? Resistance? Endorsement?

We still have a few staff members who need to complete this first assignment. That's not surprising given the crazy schedules we all have. Our office manager sent out an email today congratulating the team members who have finished and reminding the others that it still needs to be completed. If your hospital is in the same situation, send out the reminder that you are serious about the project and expect it to be completed. Don't be frustrated, just give the reminder.

So, let's reflect on the assignment:

What did you learn from the recommitment exercise? Was all of your staff consistent in their interpretations of the hospital vision? If there was a disparity in answers, you do not have a stable culture within your business. If the answers were relatively consistent, you are doing a great job with culture.

ACTION: Discuss the answers given with the entire hospital, either within the departments or with each individual, depending on the culture of your hospital. If there are discrepancies, discuss them. It is essential that the entire team know the responses given by the leaders of the hospital. Those must be posted.

ACTION: Put a reminder on your calendar to ask these three questions again every two months for the remainder of the year. This is going to seem tedious to some people, while others will like it. The purpose of repeating the exercise is to start to become competent in understanding the relationship between personal and workplace values. This is a skill, not unlike learning to place a catheter or make an appointment correctly. It must be practiced by each hospital member on a routine basis in order to become part of their practice DNA.

The above action will be the beginning of your 2014 content or business plan calendar.

These first assignments need to be completed by the end of January.

ACTION: The next assignment will be to ask your various departments to gather the materials they utilize for the dental part of your practice. Include client service, the nursing staff, veterinarians, and managers. Give them a week to pull the materials.

ACTION: Assign the 2013 AAHA Dental Care Guidelines for Dogs and Cats as reading material to all of the hospital staff.

In February, we will compare our individual dental departments with the dental care guidelines and the AAHA accreditation standards of dental care, just in time for National Pet Dental Health Month.

Best to all, and remember, ETIAP! (That means every tooth is a patient, in case you were wondering.)


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