Growing your practice in a stalled economy (Proceedings)


Growing your practice in a stalled economy (Proceedings)

Nov 01, 2010

We may have the time to reinvent ourselves.
     • Practices are often failures at implementation and don't know why.
     • We may have to delay or modify financial projections.
     • Now more than ever we need to find and keep good people on our team.
     • We suck at management development.

Become a Learning Practice
     • Pinpoint areas to foster knowledge sharing.
     • Develop new ideas.
     • Learn from mistakes.
     • A "Learning Practice" is one where employees excel at creating, sharing and transferring knowledge.

Barriers to Learning Culture
     • In the early 90's this term was coined by Peter M. Senge in his book, "The 5th Discipline."
     • The goal was to create flexibility and rapid response to business climate change.
     • It was, and is, a good theory, but difficult to impossible to implement:
           o Veterinary practices spend all of their time working in the business instead of on the business.
           o Managers could not identify the sequence of steps to move the practice forward.
           o Concept was aimed at leaders instead of front line employees and mid level managers.
           o Standards and tools for assessing progress did not exist.

3 Keys to Learning Culture
     • A supportive learning environment.
     • Concrete learning processes and practices.
     • Leadership behavior that reinforces learning.

Learning Practice
     • "Supportive learning environments allow time for a pause in the action and encourage thoughtful review of the practice's processes."
     • So what if...
           o You could "score" your practice and compare it to other learning organizations?
           o You could compare the learning environment of different work units in your practice?
           o Have a broader view of how your practice reacts to change and challenges?

Learning Practice
     • An online tool created by HBR.
     • Practices do not perform evenly across the 3 building blocks.
     • Each building block can be viewed as a separate developmental stage so each unit may require specific tools to improve. Even in a "small" practice people learn differently and respond to different stimuli.

Building Block 1: Supportive Learning Environment
           o A Supportive Learning Environment has 4 distinctive characteristics: Psychological Safety.
           o Appreciation of differences.
           o Openness to new ideas.
           o Time for reflection.

Psychological Safety
     • To learn, team members cannot fear being belittled or marginalized when they disagree with peers or authority figures, ask naïve questions, own up to mistakes or present a minority viewpoint.
     • They must be comfortable their thoughts about the work at hand.

Appreciation of Differences
     • Learning happens when people become aware of different ideas.
     • Recognizing the value of competing functional outlooks and alternative solutions increases energy and motivation.
     • The result is fresh thinking and the prevention of lethargy and drift.