Why a non-dentist might make sense as CEO

December 15, 2016
Dr. Marc Cooper

Dr. Cooper's professional career includes private periodontist, academician, researcher, teacher, practice management consultant, corporate consultant, trainer, seminar director, board director, author, entrepreneur and inventor.Dr. Cooper has studied with masters in many disciplines, participated in formal business educational programs, and worked as an independent contractor with top-flight consulting companies. In 2011, Dr. Cooper was selected as a coach for the prestigious TED Fellows Program.The Mastery Company has been in existence since 1984. Dr. Cooper's client experience in dentistry includes solo private practice, small partnered practices, managed group practices and retail corporate enterprises. Dr. Cooper has worked with numbers of health care entities such as insurance companies, clearing houses, bio-technical companies and disease management companies, as well as the senior executives and boards of large hospitals and hospital systems and a number of their related physician groups. In addition, Dr. Cooper has worked with Silicon Valley start-ups and Fortune 500 companies. He has worked with dental clients in the U.S., U.K. Canada, Chile, Brazil, Portugal, Italy, Greece, Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Oman, Singapore, New Zealand, Australia and Israel.Dr. Cooper is author of eight successful books; Mastering the Business of Practice, Partnerships in Dental Practice, Running on Empty, SOURCE, Valuocity, Valuocity II, Valuocity III, and The Elder. His electronic newsletter reaches thousands of subscribers in 31 countries. Dr. Cooper also co-developed a suite of online dental practice management assessment tools.Dr. Cooper can be contacted at:info@masterycompany.com

Dr. Marc Cooper explores a new trend in the business world: hiring an "outsider" CEO. He analyzes if this might have some application in the dental market.

Choosing an insider who understands and respects dentistry and who appreciates your corporate culture and your business model would be keeping with the common path of most group dental practices.

But thinking that you, dentist-founder, would be the most logical choice for CEO can be a dangerous move. Group practices are facing disruptive changes more frequently and they should consider turning to executives with experience outside the industry.

Must-read: Will this insurance move put an end to solo practices?

According to a Harvard Business Review article, 22 percent of new CEOs at large companies came to their new company from outside. That's up from 14 percent during 2004-2007. Historically, such moves were seen as a last resort when internal candidates didn’t measure up. But boards are now more frequently selecting an outsider as a deliberate choice in succession planning. Industries that are undergoing the most disruption are bringing in higher numbers of outsiders. For example, between 2012 and 2015, 38 percent of the CEOs hired at large telecommunications firms were outsiders.

Dentist-founders positioning themselves to be CEO are often driven by the desire to escape "the chair." But given their lack of general corporate business experience, guiding a company though the trials and tribulations of disruptive change will diminish the generation of appropriate strategies to address these changes. Information only turns into knowledge when combined with experience and dentist-founders have little experience as CEOs in growing companies.

Related: The biggest secret to becoming a real dental entrepreneur

Like it or not, dentistry is an industry being subjected to numbers of disruptive changes. Managed group practices have the revenues to hire outsiders. Dentistry is the only industry that has never lost money and its overall revenues are increasing at a steady 5 percent per year, making it attractive to outsiders. Simply put, increasingly, group dental practices are realizing that they need to look beyond the familiar confines of their own world to find new ways of thinking, and new ways of thinking are provided by outsiders.

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