10 Problem Solving Principles for Dental Practice Success

Problem solving principles

 My Top 10 Principles of Problem Solving

Problem solving principles are not taught in dental school. Dental school teaches clinical problem solving but FAILS at teaching problem solving for running a professional service business. Today you’ll get the distillation of years of trial and error about how I approach “problems” and how it can impact your business and dental practice success.

Most problems are actually hidden opportunities for growth especially as it relates to business.

Problems are little more than opportunities to re-evaluate what I’ve been doing, how I go about doing it, and with whom I am doing it.

I also use “problems” as part of a growth and guidance system. They are like bread crumbs that lead me into a bigger future. By the way, if you don’t have a bigger future mind-set,that is something you and I should meet to fix as part of any training for you, team or one-on-one consulting. You can schedule a discussion here.

Most of my best thinking, insights, next business moves, practice products, and/or patient focused services have been a direct by products of what others might view as a “problem.”

Due to the nature of subject lines, most reading through this  will be in the midst of a “problem” or will be in the middle of one very soon. It’s inevitable.

And even though “problems” come in all shapes and sizes, here’s how I find the lesson, the message, the opportunity, and the good.


Problem Solving Key 1: Identify the facts and do everything possible to not to add any meaning or BIAS to them. This is super important!

Problem Solving Key 2: Since my time is valuable, if it makes sense to solve the problem by writing a check — i.e. pay someone else to solve the problem for me — then I will.

Problem Solving Key 3: I maintain a “next” attitude. Let the local cat drink up any spilled milk. Move on and move on fast are better than agonizing and re-hashing something that is now unchangeable. If it happened in the past, it no longer exists. If it’s over, get over it. Mental energy or time spent thinking about it or talking about it is a complete waste. I suck it up and move on.

Problem Solving Key 4: As Carl Misch oft says, “I ask myself questions.” “What can I add or eliminate that will virtually prevent this from happening again?” FYI – This one question in clinical practice led to hundreds of hassle prevention documents and most recently a member’s only solution that deals with big case fee’s inside the insurance system. It also led to a simple administrative document that removes most of the risk from patient litigation related to any service. FYI2- Both of those things are provided in the #1 case acceptance training program which starts here.

Problem Solving Key 5: I get out of my normal environment. Sometimes this is a simple as leaving my office and house and going to one of the local beaches. At other times, it may mean simply grabbing a room a bit further away out of my normal environment. A day or two spent relaxing and allowing my mind to rest with a note pad and pen handy invariably leads to a new attitude, clarity, and usually THE solution. Most dentists have zero room left in their week to simply think. Major mistake that greatly hinders their ability to arrive at answers.

Problem Solving Key 6: I meditate daily. The clarity that often arises from this simple activity still shocks me.

Problem Solving Key 7: Be healthier. Occasionally I double my workouts from 1 to 2 in a day, further clean up my diet, sleep and/or nap more… and spend as much time outdoors as I can.

Problem Solving Key 8: I keep focus on the moment (NOW). I don’t dwell on the past or futuristic “what if’s.” While I know this may sound deep to most colleagues but the past and the future are mental constructs, focus your attention on what needs to happen right now and those constructs will take care of themselves.

Problem Solving Key 9: I ask, “What’s the worst thing that can happen and what would be wrong with that?” It’s actually common to fear what is ultimately best for us.

Problem Solving Key 10: I remind myself and express gratitude for the fact that “I’m awesome” and that this is simply system for problem solving puts me in the top 1% of thinkers and do’ers. (Adhere to it and you’ll be the same!).

Want more problem solving principles  help related to niche dental practice success? In case you haven’t read it, one of my latest how-to guides ‘The 39 Key Tenets to Practice Success’ provides the highest level of problem solving content for those desiring to perform more niche services. You can pick up a copy at a slightly less than Amazon.com price here.