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11th November 2015

Are Your Staff Meetings in a Rut?

Do you see a worthwhile return on the time invested in your team meetings? Nowadays regulatory requirements mean that team meetings are an essential feature of dental team life. So it is reasonable for all concerned to expect to see a return on investment for the time spent.

The essential planning

Only well planned and well run meetings, with agreed aims and objectives are likely to add anything of value to the practice. Here are some techniques that can help to ensure that team meetings are productive, worthwhile investments, rather than a disappointing experience to pay lip service to Clinical Governance and Care Quality regulations.

The worst team meetings deteriorate into blame and moan sessions, or when ideas are stimulated by the meeting but not followed through. Both of these shortcomings can be easily recognised and managed.

The most worthwhile meetings stimulate creativity and new ideas. It’s difficult to access this type of energy when dealing with the same old things in the same old ways, so here are techniques that can get your team out of their rut and encourage inspirational thinking.

New insights come from new thoughts, and if correctly developed new thoughts can lead to breakthroughs. Firstly recognise and value new thoughts as being prospects for progress, new thoughts about old situations can’t prosper if they are stifled by tired old thinking. The SCAMPER approach is a tool to stimulate thinking and make a difference.

SCAMPER has been widely used in the marketing sector since the 1950s to stimulate creative thinking. Designed to reflect the thinking style of operational thinkers, it’s a highly effective way of accessing the creativity of the team.

Example of the SCAMPER approach

The roll-on deodorant was invented in the 1950s by an imaginative employee in a pen factory. He worked out that the same principle used in the ball-point pen could be extended to spread deodorant evenly under the arm. In this way something that was working well in one area of operation was adapted and applied in a completely new area with the SCAMPER process as follows:

  • Substitute: In areas of under performance explore what, or who can be replaced with something or someone different. This is based on the thinking that if something’s not working well, do something different.
  • Combine: Could the people and/or ideas that are working well in other areas be combined with what is not working in another area to strengthen overall performance?
  • Adapt: Are there similarities between problem areas and other external or internal situations? If so, could you adapt the solutions others have applied?  
  • Modify and magnify: What changes would increase the benefits/drawbacks?
  • Put to other uses: What new applications can you see for your strengths and aptitudes?
  • Eliminate: Is anything excessive or outdated and how can this be eliminated?
  • Rearrange: Could we refresh people and ideas with new personnel combinations and/or working patterns?

Just for fun look for parallels to your team’s day to day challenges in stories from the news, films or TV programmes. When looking for links it is amazing how your mind will link things together for you. You may find features of how a hero saves the day (or the villain almost wins) can be adapted into team’s challenges.

The objective of the technique is to solve problems and generate new ideas by using the SCAMPER questions. Why not ask your team to explore the SCAMPER questions in relation to a task or situation and see what new ideas emerge.

*All information is correct at the time of publishing

Topics: Dentists

Glenys Bridges

QCS Dental Specialist

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