Resolving Veterinary Practice Challenges: with Option Solving

Owner veterinarians have many role advantages, not least orchestrating their “own show.” But they also have their practice challenges, too. Sometimes they have no-one else to discuss particular sensitive issues with, other than with other owner veterinarians. The latter are not always available when needed and then there’s the owners’ bias toward trying to resolve things themselves. This is where Option Solving can help as a valuable decision making tool.

You can find an incomplete example under the Latest Example tag: incomplete to discourage readers from the temptation of believing that other people’s solutions will be their solutions, too…especially with regard to Option Solving. The example outlines a typical challenge for owner veterinarians, where an associate veterinarian (Sarah) wishes to drop a work day because she has moved another part of town. Sarah has been working at the practice for a few years and has built up a healthy following on her two days of practice. Unfortunately she wasn’t interested in buying into the practice.

As is often the case, Sarah’s personal relationships had changed and she wanted to relocate to make a fresh start. She had also found an owner veterinarian in her new neighborhood that was willing to take her aboard: initially for a day or two per week. It was a jolt to her current owner practitioner, who had seen Sarah as a capable and reliable producer. Finding such veterinarians is not easy: one of the realities for owners.

For the practice owner the first step in Sarah’s case is to reduce her involvement from two to one day per week, with the strong likelihood she will then vacate all together. Faced with this prospect the owner derives an option solving question (see more about this in “Smart Decisions”): “What is my best option in place of Sarah on Wednesdays (she will still do Fridays), so as to hang on to her client following and meet her standards?”

Once the right question is in place, the owner’s next step is to formulate the “bookends” for spurring the owner’s intuitive mind to figure out the best range of options. Those happened to be: 1) Work alone on Wednesdays, and at the other end 2) Close down the practice on Wednesdays. Both were good because, although options, they were the least likely the owner’s intuition would accept.

Now the owner is in a position to consider options in between. With the owner’s intuitive mind pushing away from these bookends, other options start to flow: A) Find a good match for Sarah’s clients, B)?, C) Appeal to Sarah to extend her stay until we find the right person, D)?, E) Do not replace Sarah across the board, or F)? – see blog Latest Example.

The owner made an appropriate choice, after a night to sleep on it (see “emotional distancing” in the book), which is not important to discuss in light of the earlier point. However, with this intuitive choice comes peace of mind, knowing that all the best options have been considered and the owner’s best judgment tool (the intuitive mind) has done its job. (Next week’s posting: How to deal with an HR team that doesn’t seem to be meeting expectations.)

                                        © 2009-2010 Leadership Solutions Inc® (MALRC). All rights reserved

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