Submarine, Battleship & a Cruise Line:What They Have in Common with Dental ‘Teams’

Group dynamics are very interesting. In the industry today, there’s a lot of buzz about dental “teams” and what they ought to look, act, dress, and sound like.

Seems like you can’t pick up a magazine and read an article without some mention if a ‘team.’

In my younger, less experienced days, I shrugged it off as a trend that would pass.

The trend, if you can call it one, is here to stay. And realistically, it’s always been around. It’s just been brought to the practice management forefront in the last dozen years or so.

I’m preaching to the choir when I say you can’t have a successful practice without a team that is on board and in-synch with each other and with you, the doctor.

About 7 or 8 years ago, what is now commonly taught by companies like Dental Boot Kamp (and has been taught for a dozen or more years, there, too) group dynamics, a short course, was taught to me by a great mentor.

He said to me every group of people that has to work together as a team goes through three phases. Submarine phase, Battleship phase, and finally, they hit the Cruise Liner.

When groups are first assembled, they are in the Submarine phase.

It has some of these characteristics:

1)      people in the group DON’T really talk.

2)      people in the group don’t really relax around each other.

3)      people in the group DON’T share.

4)      there’s little if any wiggle room.

5)      issues are hard to see (identify) because no one’s talking and it’s dark.

6)      people are basically uncomfortable.

You might recognize your practice as either IN that phase of group dynamics or having BEEN in that phase.

By now you might just see where I’m going with this. The next phase most groups hit is the Battleship phase. A natural transition, the Battleship phase can be alarming. As your team gets more comfortable with each other, Battle begins.

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