The Good to Great Dental Practice

mm Written by Andrew Sedler



As a dental practice owner, you would like to develop your practice into a GREAT practice. While we all agree that developing clinical knowledge and skills are a vital part of being a true dental professional, that doesn’t guarantee practice success.


There are no silver bullets to a successful practice; however, there are universal principles that contribute to any personal or business success. This week I want to talk about some of the concepts from the book Good To Great. In this book, author Jim Collins offers up research-based solutions for how companies have gone from good to great. Collins’ research team found 11 good companies that became great companies in their respective industries and that sustained their success for at least 15 years. The “Good To Great" principles were revealed via a five-year research project that looked at companies in a variety of industries that developed into industry leaders and financial successes compared to competitors, and to the stock market's top companies.

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The Good To Great Dental Practice

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"Greatness is not a function of cirmstance. Greatness, it turns out, is largely a matter of conscious choice, and discipline."


The factors that the research team focused on were the differences between great companies and sub-par companies.

The contrast between success and failure is the key to success principles.

"The critical question is not “What do successes share in common?” or “What do failures share in common?” The critical question is “What do we learn by studying the contrast between success and failure?” Think of it this way: Suppose you wanted to study what makes gold medal winners in the Olympic Games. If you only studied the gold medal winners by themselves, you‘d find that they all had coaches. But you if looked at the athletes that made the Olympic team, but never won a medal, you‘d find that they also had coaches! The key question is, “What systemically distinguishes gold medal winners from those who never won a medal?”

--Good To Great, Jim Collins

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7 Characteristics of Companies That Transitioned From Good to Great

1. Level 5 Leadership

All companies that were evaluated had what Jim Collins defines as Level 5 Leadership. The essence of this characteristic is a leader that is driven to grow the company but creates an environment that does not make the leader the focal point. 

2. First Who, Then What

Get the right people on the team, then figure out where they fit to drive the company to the desired destination. Find the right people and try them out in different positions in the company. The right people as defined by mindset, drive, character traits. The old adage that "people are your most important asset” is not true. The right people are your most important asset.

3. Confront The Brutal Facts

Confront the brutal truth of the situation, yet at the same time, never give up hope.

Create a culture where people have a tremendous opportunity to be heard, and ultimately for the truth to be heard.

Create an environment where people are heard not just listened to. There’s a difference between “having your say” and the opportunity to be heard. Good to Great leaders provide the latter.

Leadership is about vision, but it is also equally about creating a climate where the truth is heard and the brutal facts confronted.

4. Hedgehog Concept

  • What are you passionate about?
  • What could you be best in the world at?
  • What drives your economic engine?

5. A Culture of Discipline

Discipline, diligence, focus, and commitment to be the best.

6. Technology Accelerators

Avoid technology fads, but become pioneers in the carefully selected technologies that directly support the company's hedgehog concept.  Using technology to accelerate growth, within the three circles of the hedgehog concept.

7. The Flywheel

Creating momentum by many small initiatives that act like compound interest.


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How Does This Relate To A Dental Practice?

One of the Good to Great factors as it relates to dental practices is implementing Level 5 Leadership in the dental office.

Implementing Level 5 Leadership - Burbank Dental Lab

Level 5 - Executive

  • Builds enduring greatness through a blend of personal humility and professional drive - leaders who are humble, but driven to do what's best for the company.
  • Encourages the development of systems and culture that are not dependent on the leader for the business to thrive.
  • Acts with calm determination; relies principally on inspired standards, not charisma, to motivate. Charismatic leaders tend to become the force of the company, overwhelming employees who are worried about what the CEO will think, instead of doing what is best for the company.
  • Gives credit to others for the success of the company.
  • Fosters and encourages the development of team members.
  • Incorporates the other 4 levels of leadership.

The other levels of contribution to the company are critical as well. It is very important that leadership involves and recruits the right people to participate in the journey of good to great.

Level 4 - Effective Leader

Catalyzes commitment to and vigorous pursuit of a clear and compelling vision, stimulating higher performance and standards.

Level 3 - Competent Manager

Organizes people and resources toward the effective and efficient pursuit of pre-determined objectives.

Level 2 - Contributing Team Member

Contributes individual capabilities to the achievement of group objectives and works effectively with others in a group setting.

Level 1 - Highly Capable Individual

Makes productive contributions through knowledge, skills, and good work habits.

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Tasks To Become A Level 5 Leader

Develop Humility

Ask For Help

Take Responsibility

Develop Discipline

Find the Right People

Lead With Passion

Application In A Dental Practice

1. Be an example

Be a level 5 leader also incorporates the other four levels of “leadership.” In a dental practice that is even more essential since in most dental practices the dentist-owner-leader is also a primary producer. It is important that the work ethic, passion, humility, and discipline be exemplified by you the leader. This is a fine line to walk, you do not want to be the all-end-all in the practice. In many respects, you must be two people in the practice: The Dentist Producer in the practice and the Leader. Developing your team, especially a level 3 manager with-in your team is key to becoming a great practice. By developing a Competent Manager (Level 3), you may, on a daily basis, wear the hat of a Contributing Team Member (level 2)  and Highly Capable Individual (Level 1). Then you wear your Level 4 & 5 Leadership hat in your practices' development functions.

2. Be a catalyst for the vision and passion of the practice.

YOU must also drink the practice vision kool-aide. As the leader, your team has to know that you believe and are committed to the vision and the standards of performance and excellence. Also, involve your team in the development of the vision and direction; allow them to be participants not just spectators.

3. Systems are critically important

Develop systems in all areas of the practice: Clinical, Recall, Patient Base Growth, Finance, and H.R, to name a few. Systems should be usable, trainable, and tested. If they do not contribute to the main goals consider revising or replacing them.

The practice systems must contribute to the Hedgehog concepts, that will catapult the practice from good to great. Practice systems should also be non-reliant on the leader.

4. Build a Team with the right people 

Develop your team based on mindset, character, attitude, and work ethic. With these factors present in your team members, positioning and training them for specific tasks is a relatively simple task. Without the character traits above, no amount of training will mold a person into a team member that will contribute to practice greatness.

5. Give credit to the team for the success of the practice. Build them up, foster, and encourage growth and development.

As you develop the team it is important to give credit and praise for the success of the practice; this will foster independence and encourage innovation that will contribute to the flywheel/momentum of the practice transition to GREAT.

Create a system and environment that encourages personal development. This could be through involvement in continuing education, internal training, and mentorship, or a process of added responsibility coupled with appropriate instruction.

There also must be an environment of transparent honesty. Team members must be able to be honest about confronting the brutal facts so that the practice can overcome issues that hinder its development. Likewise, team members must be honestly communicated with regarding their performance and contribution, in a way that fosters growth and improvement.

Burbank Dental Lab teamwork

Don't Be Content with Good

In the final analysis being content to have a Good practice may be the biggest hindrance to becoming a Great practice. Becoming a great practice is an intentional process. You will have to expend effort, though, to build and involve a team. You and your team will also fail and have to reinvent things as you go, it is a process. Jim Collins rightly states that "The enemy of Great is Good.” But the rewards in both professional fulfillment and economically are limitless. Is it your time to take your practice from Good to Great? Burbank Dental Lab is here to facilitate your journey with amazing restorations, and a wealth of resources for your dental practice.

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Slide 1

of the future
is here!

Burbank Dental Lab has three new state-of-the-art Carbon M2 printers. We are very excited about the options that these cutting-edge printers will allow us to offer our dental clients. Here are some of the advantages that these printers will begin to deliver to you and your dental practice.

Our New
3d Printers

Carbon offers a highly dependable 3D manufacturing solution for many dental applications with its breakthrough Digital Light Synthesis™ technology, enabled by a wide range of dental materials.

of the future
is here!

Burbank Dental Lab has three new state-of-the-art Carbon M2 printers. We are very excited about the options that these cutting-edge printers will allow us to offer our dental clients. Here are some of the advantages that these printers will begin to deliver to you and your dental practice.

Our New
3d Printers

Carbon offers a highly dependable 3D manufacturing solution for many dental applications with its breakthrough Digital Light Synthesis™ technology, enabled by a wide range of dental materials.