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SOLVING THE RIGHT PROBLEM (Evaluating Your Practice) A Strategic Plan is a plan for the clever use of existing resources or maneuvers for overcoming existing obstacles toward achieving an objective. A Strategic Plan begins with the observation of a situation to be handled or a goal to be met. It would include a statement of definite purpose or purposes to be achieved. A Situation: is defined as: The most major departure from the Ideal Scene. The Ideal Scene is an envisioned ideal scenario – the way the parts and pieces would all come together and work together as an organized whole if they were all organized perfectly. In order to evaluate anything one must have something with which to compare the thing you are evaluating. For example, a dentist evaluates a problem tooth against his or her knowledge of a healthy one. The ability to observe and familiarity with what one is looking at also play an important role in correctly evaluating a situation. Why: In evaluating a practice or business The Why will be, how come the situation is such a major departure from the ideal scene? What caused the situation? What’s causing the situation? How come the situation is a situation? The correct Why clearly identified will then open the door to a handling – a solution. In medicine, there are observable “symptoms” used in diagnoses. In business and more specifically in Evaluation there are what’s known as Plus Points and Out Points. Pluspoints of course are those factors which are positives, and the opposites, Outpoints are negative factors. For example, low new patient numbers or high overhead are both Outpoints, not a Why, and not necessarily the Situation. Certain duties assigned to staff that are not being done are Outpoints – symptoms. Pluspoints and outpoints are part of a Business Evaluator’s observation and are used in the evaluation of the Situation. They are not The WHY. Untrained Evaluators most often see an Outpoint then go about correcting these outpoints found (problem solving), without discovering the actual Why. This usually leads to more outpoints “corrected” then further outpoints “corrected”, resulting in “the problem” persisting, getting worse – or it keeps coming back. This is (in your field of expertise) would be known as treating symptoms. There are certain indicators of a correct Why found. These would include the fact that it will be surprising. Because the fact is if one had already identified the actual Why, then the observer would have already resolved it. Another indicator of a correct Why found is that it will always present an obvious solution – it will open the door to a handling. And the ultimate test of a right or correct Why is it will always improve in a marked way with existing resources the Existing Scene toward The Ideal Scene. And this is ALWAYS accompanied by rising statistics. And lastly, with the correct or right Why identified, the practice owner or manager would find themselves naturally motivated toward doing the necessary proposed program steps that would lead to accomplishing their stated goals for that part of the practice or for the overall practice as a whole. Therefore, just as you as a doctor would evaluated a patient’s condition based on all the data necessary and the use of tools such as x-rays, magnified images and most importantly actual direct inspection and observation, so must a skilled practice evaluator know evaluator’s technology and have all the necessary data including accurate statistics and on the ground (on-site) observation before an effective program of advice or training could be proposed. If you are experiencing any situation that seems to not be resolving, then I strongly recommend a thorough and complete on-site evaluation by a competent practice evaluator with a proven track record of results. Steve Poore, President