How to Battle Entropy and Friction in Your Business As You Plan for the Future

Carrie Webber, Owner, The Jameson Group

Your Path of Sustainability and Growth for 2021

My husband Jess and I are owners of two businesses, one of which is The Jameson Group—a company we have been a part of for 20 years and have owned for eight. I spent a great deal of time at the end of 2020 thinking about our work and the continuous challenge of sustaining an established business plan and mapping out a path for forward growth and vision.

Twenty-twenty was a juggernaut of a year for businesses. The year challenged us, forced agility and adaptation, and left us looking ahead in a way that was introspective and well outside of the box of what was historically considered comfortable. What do we all, as business owners, need to address, adapt, refine, and change to recalibrate and continue forth on a path of sustainability and growth for 2021?

It just so happens that Jess wrote his thoughts on this before 2020 hit. He had just completed some work with a client on vision planning and adapting her business plan in order to continue on a forward moving path. When it comes down to it, businesses can be considered through the lens of science. In this case, through the second law of thermodynamics. Are you actively adapting to battle the entropy and friction that comes from this scientific law? Here are Jess’s thoughts on where we, as leaders, would be best served in planning for the rest of 2021.

Embrace change to fulfill your purpose.

We had the opportunity to work with a great client the other day and see a light bulb turn on. We were discussing and working on the business plan at this meeting. We were discussing a lot of changes in the industry and how they were going to address some of them in the practice. It was then she began talking about how hard she works to implement change in the practice. She was a young doctor, early forties, and had worked as an associate in this practice before taking it over as her own a few years ago. The team was a good team and they all got along, they loved the doctor and the purpose and vision of the practice. But none of them could implement change for very long. They had spent a lot of time and money on training, dental meetings, advisors of various kinds to try to update systems, process, etc. to no avail. Worst of all they were starting to not fulfill their purpose and getting off track with their vision. 

It was then I was reminded of a podcast I had heard from a gentleman named Andy Stanley and one of the points he made. It goes like this: Marry your purpose (your why and why you do what you do, no matter what you do), be schoolkid infatuated with your vision (your where, what the business looks like in x amount of time). Hold hands with your process and systems (how you work to fulfill the vision and purpose). 

The second law of thermodynamics basically states this: Everything falls apart. Over time, it takes more and more energy to hold things together. Mr. Stanley went on to say the role of the leader is to constantly challenge your systems or those same systems will unconsciously conspire to maintain the status quo and prevent change. You will spend a lot of time, money, and heart trying to keep things the same. You probably have known someone who is change adverse and how much they work at being change adverse. If you do not know someone like that, or refuse to acknowledge people like that are real, you might be that person. You want an admiring team publicly and honest critics privately. 

We are driven to want to be at a place of comfort, knowledge, to have “arrived” when we need to embrace that we are really in a constant state of change, of becoming. In other words, we are constantly newbies. Think about technology, for example. We constantly have to upgrade something, which causes something else to upgrade, and we have to learn how it works all over again. The only place maintaining the status quo would work is in a static industry or environment, which our business and our clients’ businesses in dentistry definitely are not. The second law of thermodynamics guarantees change is happening. 

Let’s take us, as humans, as an example regarding how we age. I think we can all agree that certain things change or deteriorate as we get older. It takes more and more energy to maintain our health as we get older and the less intentional and focused we are at maintaining our health, the more problematic and difficult it will be to regain that health once it falls apart. 

It is the same in your practice or business. Your computers become out of date, programs are updated to operate more efficiently. Insurance changes, patients demand different ways of communication and financial options. Expectations of the dental experience change based on information patients gather from other services and the internet. Patients’ knowledge of treatment options change based on how easy it is to access information and research. Your speed and knowledge change. While these descriptions can make sense to us in theory, it is undoubtedly more difficult to accept and adapt your business plan and focus when the change is actually happening to you and  your team, in your practice. 

So, let’s return to our wonderful doctor. I saw the light bulb come on when she realized they were married to the how (the processes and systems) and just holding hands with the purpose. Remember, your how needs to constantly change in an ever-changing environment so that you can always fulfill your purpose. There is no standing still—as the leader of your business you must embrace the unavoidable second law of thermodynamics in your work and focus forward. Stand strong in your purpose and adapt to the changing tides that is the landscape of the entrepreneurial journey.

If you are interested in a Jameson Vision Planning Session with Jess and Carrie—either virtually or in-person, email Carrie at [email protected] and let’s schedule some time to discuss your business plan, where you are now, and what a Jameson Vision Planning Session could do for you.

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