implementationIn a previous article, we looked at the common dilemma of implementation of concepts, techniques and philosophies after a quality learning experience.

I don't know about you, but when I get back from an amazing day, weekend or week of personal growth and learning, I quickly feel alone in an office that seemed so comfortable, working with a team that felt completely committed and supportive before I left. Where did they go? Did I drive to the wrong practice?


Nope. Right place and they are the same people.

As you know, it is hard to share the passion, energy and experience of quality education. But instead of telling my team how sad I am that they were not there to share the experience, I get quiet, depressed and resentful. And then they wonder where the guy went that they worked with the previous week. You know – the one with such a love for them, our patients, the profession and the future.


That is the perfect way to not change or grow a practice.

Implementation and the Dental Team

In one of my favorite classic articles from the Harvard Business Review, Katezenbach and Smith effectively demonstrate one model of a team.1 Simply reading the headings makes so much sense:

  1. A meaningful common purpose that the team has helped shape.

  2. Specific performance goals that flow from the common purpose.

  3. A mix of complementary skills.

  4. A strong commitment to how the work gets done.

  5. Mutual accountability.

If we contemplate only the first characteristic, intuitively we know that we help support what we create. So, I know it sounds crazy to a bunch of OCD, micro-managing, expert-mentality, business owner, idea-generating dentists – but maybe the first thing we do when we get back is to share… and ask for help.

Where the Implementation Starts

They want to know what we learned, to hear our excitement, to feel our excitement and be a part of our excitement. And even though we have ideas about what needs to change or what we want to change, we really don't have the specific answer for our individual practice… yet. This is because we haven't included those that will also be affected and, more importantly, those that see things in our practice different from us. They are the people who see things about our practice that we might never see. Oh, and they are also the same people who will probably be affected more by the planned evolution.

Have you thought about telling them what you think you want to change? Or that you have some ideas about how to change it, but that you can't wrap your brain around how it will look specifically in your practice or exactly how to get there?

Explain that you wish you could see it and that you had all of the answers, but you don't. That is the truth – admit it. You need and want their help to design and implement something that you know will change the business and the lives that you and your team support and want.

Back to the article: It goes on to compare a "working group" to a "team."

Working Group

  • Strong, clearly focused leader

  • Individual accountability

  • The group's purpose is the same asthe broader organizational mission

  • Individual work products

  • Runs efficient meetings

  • Measures its effectiveness indirectly by its influence on others (such as financial performance of the business)

  • Discusses, decides and delegates


  • Shared leadership roles

  • Individual and mutual accountability

  • Specific team purpose that the team itself delivers

  • Collective work products

  • Encourages open-ended discussion and active problem-solving meetings

  • Measures performance directly by assessing collective work products

  • Discusses, decides and does real work together

Notice how the working group is certainly very commendable. But please also notice how the team seems to support Monday morning and long-term implementation. It's almost like you can be genuinely excited to come back from some great learning and wonder together how best to implement. Ask them to support something that is so important to you. They want that for you and they want to help you. That's where the implementation starts.


  1. Katzenbach, J, Smith, D, The Discipline of Teams, Harvard Business Review, Best of HBR 1993.

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Commenter's Profile Image Steven Haase
November 12th, 2014
Hello new to the site