4 Tips to manage your practice like Steve Jobs managed Apple

June 28, 2012

Biographer Walter Isaacson outlined core leadership strengths that can be used to characterize Apple founder and personal computing pioneer Steve Jobs in a Harvard Business Review article. These four approaches to leadership can be applied to the improvement of your dental practice. ExecTech, a practice management consulting firm, breaks them down. Focus

Biographer Walter Isaacson outlined core leadership strengths that can be used to characterize Apple founder and personal computing pioneer Steve Jobs in a Harvard Business Review article. These four approaches to leadership can be applied to the improvement of your dental practice. ExecTech, a practice management consulting firm, breaks them down.

Focus

When Jobs took back control of Apple, it was producing dozens of different computers and nearly bankrupt. Steve turned the company around by focusing on just four computers and making them perfect.

If you are trying to provide too many types of services, you do not have time to master any of them.

For example, when a general dentist tries to provide orthodontic, periodontic, cosmetic and surgical services to all of his patients, he makes mistakes and generates complaints. When this dentist focuses on just one or two types of services, he gets very good at them. He builds a reputation and climbs to the top.

Take responsibility end to end

When Steve Jobs saw how stores were selling Apple products, he was disappointed. He decided to take responsibility for every aspect of the consumer experience and so created a better store.

Now, you can use an Apple store to learn about Apple products, buy Apple products, learn to use Apple products and get repair service for your Apple products, all in one location.

The software and hardware on an Apple product is made by Apple. Apple products work perfectly well with other Apple products. Steve Jobs controlled everything to ensure his customers were delighted.

How can you take more end-to-end responsibility for your patients?

Examine each point of contact. Start at the beginning. Find your weakest points and improve them.

For example, when new patients come in, are you bursting with pride with the impressions they receive? Your forms, your furniture, even your doorknob, makes a statement about your practice.

Put products before profits

John Sculley, who ran Apple from 1983 to 1993, was a marketing and sales executive from Pepsi. He focused on profit maximization and Apple’s income declined.

When Jobs returned, he shifted Apple’s focus back to making “insanely great” products: the iPod, the iPhone and the iPad. As he explained, “My passion has been to build an enduring company where people were motivated to make great products. Everything else was secondary.”

When you make your profit more important than your patients’ experiences, you hurt your practice.

For example, low-pay employees who repel patients, uncomfortable furniture, old-tech treatment equipment, poorly ventilated office space, low-quality educational material and so on.

Tolerate only “A” players

Jobs was famously tough with the people around him. He expected perfection. “I don’t think I run roughshod over people,” he said, “but if something sucks, I tell people to their face. It’s my job to be honest.”

As a result, the best performers thrived. They felt more loyalty to Apple than similar workers feel in other companies. Jobs said, “By expecting them to do great things, you can get them to do great things.”