Shrink the Change and Grow Your Dental Practice

Someone once said, “Every time I find the meaning of life, they change it.”  This feeling of constant change, which can feel overwhelming, is one of the main points of resistance when you propose new goals.  So how do you overcome this sticking point?

In their book Switch – How to Change Things When Change Is Hard, Dan and Chip Heath propose shrinking the change.


One of our dental consulting clients recently needed help shrinking the change for his team.  The practice was stagnant, and an attempt a year earlier by the dentist to introduce new goals only resulted in an overwhelmed staff.  And month after month of missing the target.

When I met with the team, everyone agreed the practice could perform even better, everyone agreed the doctor’s goals sounded great, but the group was disconnected from how to increase production by ten percent.  Until we started shrinking the change.

The hygiene team realized they were hesitant to present adult fluoride to patients since there was typically an out-of-pocket cost.  However, when we considered the benefit of the treatment and the relative cost, which equals a few trips to Starbucks, the hygiene team understood how to offer a great service and contribute to the practice goals.  We successfully shrunk the change.

The dentist and assistants recognized that subpar treatment acceptance was the direct result of scheduling too aggressively on days with two hygienists.  The doctor consistently ran behind on those days, which meant exams were rushed and patient questions went unanswered, leading to lots of unscheduled treatment.

The “ah-ha” moment helped the dentist and team shrink the change.  Adding extra time to the schedule led to unrushed exams and higher treatment acceptance.

If you and your team want to create and sustain momentum, be sure to not only set goals.  Be sure to also shrink the change on how to get there.


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