For My Business, Do I Choose Systems Or People Firstly?

I recently saw this question asked in an online dental discussion group:

“As a practice owner, are you better to focus on systems or on people when trying to grow a successful dental practice?”

It’s an interesting question…

Which comes first?

The systems or the people?

I didn’t see the outcome of the thread, but in the initial postings, a lot of people were saying that to grow a successful dental practice you need to be focussed on having the correct team members firstly….

It’s an interesting thought…

What would happen to your business if everybody that you employed had an inherent talent to do something good or something creative, but as a collective, the team looked very much like a menagerie of misfits who had been thrown together for whatever reason?

And as a team, this thrown together team lacked harmony, and it lacked polish?

Would that not be a problem that needed solving at a date that was sooner rather than later?

It’s always been said that a star team will beat a team of stars… and that’s because the star team has a culture and a history that’s been nurtured and developed, compared to the team of stars that may simply have been thrown together randomly with a big tablespoon of hope for good measure….

Historically in sport, the really successful sporting clubs are known for their systems and their processes that develop players into superstars as needed rather than as clubs that try to mould a group of superstars into a team of unknown destiny?

The historical nature of the great sporting clubs is that their culture creates the success of the club, and that should players choose to depart or to retire, there is a process for promoting developing players or recruiting key personnel to slot straight into any vacancy…

In fact, it’s the systems created by those famous clubs and their managers that draws young up-and-coming players into those clubs, just to become part of the success that those clubs have built.

And the opposite is also true.

When a club does occasionally need to replace a departing player, the reputation of the organisation quickly attracts an impressive list of candidates eager to slot in to the behaviours needed by the club at that time…

It’s the underlying systems and the underlying strength of the culture that determines the longevity of the club.

When a vacancy occurs for these successful organisations, the right replacements will always appear when they are needed.


I’ve met plenty of dentists who know their systems need attention but they never want to train their teams until they have every key person role in their business filled properly.

Sadly, that day of reckoning never ever arrives, and the practice never ever gets to experience the opportunity of creating true unadulterated organic growth…

And that can be a tragedy of enormous magnitude that can last for an eternity…


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