The BDA conference and the reaction to change

My first comment is to thank the team at the BDA for creating the environment in which I could invest 3 busy days in B2B networking with my many friends in the dental trade, as well as a few real live practitioner dentists!
The opportunity is priceless and effective – this year has been no exception.
My comments to the Henry Schein team on Wednesday afternoon (and posted on this blog) were further reinforced by numerous conversations over conference coffee.
Change often creates a negative response from those with an interest in maintaining the status quo.
It is sometimes easy for me to assume that I am one of the few advocates of continuous adaptation in business and, therefore, the only target practice for the Luddites of dentistry.
Not so – it became clear during my trip to ExCel that those who share the imaginary bulls eye pinned to the chest include any supporters of:

  • cosmetic orthodontics 
  • direct access
  • recruitment and education forums for nurses
  • changes to the VT system
  • cheaper overseas manufacture of just about anything

I can appreciate why people are concerned when existing markets are affected by macro-economic and technological change – but I can never understand why they get emotional about it to the point of being rude?
Since when has taking an aggressive adversarial stance in an argument ever won it?
It was the late Stephen Covey who coined the phrase “seek first to understand, then to be understood”.
I don’t think that seek first to understand included black-balling their supporters and trying to infiltrate and disrupt their meetings. However, such shenanigans were reported to me last week and observed by some who attended conference. Very sad.
I suppose the level of vitriol around an idea is a good indicator of its relevance and likelihood of success?
In a conversation on Saturday morning I suggested that the 10,000 independently owned practices in the UK would become 1,000 within the next 7 years, that corporates and micro-corporates would deliver 80% of NHS dentistry and that 85% of that dentistry would be delivered by therapists.
That the 1,000 independent practices would prosper and that dentistry overall will be a great place to live and work over the next 25 years.
In fact, I’m so optimistic about the profession that I invited my 3rd son down to the conference from Nottingham University and took him around the trade show on Saturday afternoon to meet friends.
Joshua takes his finals in 4 weeks and I’d love him to take a look at dental school. That’s how much I believe in the future of dentistry.
I believe in dentistry because change is inevitable and effecient.


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Chris Barrow

Chris Barrow has been active as a consultant, trainer and coach to the UK dental profession for over 20 years. As a writer, his blog enjoys a strong following and he is a regular contributor to the dental press. Naturally direct, assertive and determined, he has the ability to reach conclusions quickly, as well as the sharp reflexes and lightness of touch to innovate, change tack and push boundaries. In 2014 he appeared as a “castaway” in the first season of the popular reality TV show “The Island with Bear Grylls”. His main professional focus is as Coach Barrow, providing coaching and mentorship to independent dentistry.