One thing that doctors have in common with every business owner is the desire for predictability. Clinically, you want predictable outcomes. Similarly in our businesses, we want predictable and reliable operations that consistently result in business success.

Whenever you contemplate making changes in your business, it’s natural to consider the risks. As the Ethiopian wisdom suggests, it’s prudent to consider how changes might have a ripple effect. What interconnections in systems and procedures will also be affected? Are there hidden traps or surprises that might occur? How will team members react and respond?

Prior to making even the best-intended changes, it’s impossible to know every side effect and consequence. And that means it’s very easy to get caught up in imagining the worst what-if scenarios and getting stuck in analysis paralysis trying to predict and plan for every contingency.

The vital point to remember is there is an important difference between knowing the consequences in advance (which are unknowable) versus being prepared to deal with the consequences. Being prepared means that you expect some bumps in the road will occur. You expect some disturbances in the daily flow that will need to be ironed out. You expect that some team members may need extra training or leadership attention to make them comfortable or to see the positives.

I still believe that looking ahead reasonably and thoughtfully is something every business leader should do. But how much weight you put on the “unknown consequences” should be tempered by how necessary or beneficial the objective of any change will be.

The one area where, as a business owner, you should always be ready to embrace inevitable disturbances is change motivated to grow the business. Growth year-over-year is a necessity for a healthy business, and a sign of effective leadership. If you aren’t on track for successive growth, then you are on track to declining value, which will eventually result in reduced profitability.

We see this pattern all the time in practices. Doctors invest in growth and embrace change in the first third of their career. Then they start to taper off, then level out into an extended comfort zone that fluctuates up and down. And then, after a while, they either recommit and re-energize around new growth or they begin to decline slowly.


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