True confession here – I am not a HUGE fan of Dr. Phil’s. However, in the early years of his TV show I used to watch on occasion and felt like he made some great points about the choices we make and how we live our lives….
Here are some of my favorite Dr. Phil-isms:
- No matter how flat you make a pancake, it’s still got two sides.
- You can’t change what you don’t acknowledge.
- That dog don’t hunt.
- Opinions are like asses. Everybody’s got one!
And then there’s the one I find most applicable to decision-making, when things just don’t seem right and I’ve come to a crossroads…
- Just how’s that workin’ for ya?
During the past few months, facing one specific difficult decision, that saying has rung in my ears many times. Eventually, just this past week, it resulted in a big change for the Alliance of Professional Health Advocates too.
Based on feedback from our membership, we learned that our members were looking for some capabilities we didn’t have with the Forum we had established at LinkedIn, that we were never going to have at LinkedIn, and so we went in search of a new solution.
We found one. So in January we moved our networking Forum to a new location online. It turned out to be a huge undertaking with many hours and dollars invested both by APHA and by our new vendor. Over the next few months they were wonderfully attentive, constantly tweaking the interface to make it more usable for us…. It should have been the perfect solution.
There was only one problem. That is – members just didn’t make the shift to our new space! It didn’t matter how well we had “improved” our capabilities, it was like we had built a big new home with newly decorated rooms (not to mention the pool out back) – but everyone kept going “home” to the old home. No matter how beautiful and glorious the new one’s potential was, the old one still felt comfortable.
As I think about it – it makes perfect sense. We all find change difficult and moving was, most definitely, a change. Further, most of the active participants at the LinkedIn Forum were involved in other groups and activities at LInkedIn, too (your friends were still hangin’ in the old ‘hood!) Asking them to shift to a new venue was asking them to remember something ELSE to do, leaving old friends behind (despite the possibilities of making new friends) and it required more time to do it, in an already busy day.
Each day I would check the new Forum to see what the latest and greatest topics were….and…. <<crickets>>. Within a matter of just a few weeks, we lost all our Forum and networking momentum….
How was that workin’ for us?
So we did another survey based on the four months of experience we had in our new location and sure enough – to no one’s surprise – we knew it was time to return to LinkedIn. And NOT because LinkedIn’s Forum is particularly the end all or be all. Rather because it makes more sense to take the conversation to where people already are than it does to ask them to cross the street to a new and different place to chat, even if the new pool looks mighty inviting…
So this week we made the change; we returned the Forum to LinkedIn. It was a bit embarrassing and difficult explaining to the new vendor that it wasn’t working out. They had invested so much of their capability into making it work. But it was a necessary decision – and now it’s a done deal.
So what can we, as advocates, learn from this? Are there Dr. Phil lessons to be learned?
Yes, there most certainly are.
We all run into situations with our practices and our clients that just aren’t working well and need to be changed. The way to doom a business is to put blinders on to problems and resisting the changes that are necessary to keep it afloat.
Some examples: each time someone calls you on the phone to inquire about your services, you help them as much as you can… but they don’t hire you. How’s that workin’ for ya?
Another example: Mrs. Smith owes you $500, yet she keeps calling you for additional help. You remind her that she has an outstanding balance, and she promises to pay you as soon as her social security gets deposited, but she doesn’t make a payment. Yet you still keep helping her out. How’s that workin’ for ya?
And still another: when people ask you what you do for a living, you tell them you are a private advocate. They ask what that means, and you describe the kinds of things you do to help patients. They ask you what you charge and you tell them. They respond with, “That’s too expensive. Must be only rich people can afford an advocate.” and you just let the statement lie there. You don’t provide them with the reasons that is not true, nor a different point of view. How’s that workin’ for ya?
As practice owners and practice-starters we run into these kinds of situations every day. Yet few of us take the time to face then, analyze them, figure out what needs to be done differently – and then make the change. And it’s not working for us at all. And a good number of us will lose our practices to ignoring the need to change.
So with a tip of the hat to Dr. Phil, I say – You can’t change what you don’t acknowledge.
That’s the best way to make your dog hunt – and hunt successfully.
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