My 35mm professional camera has a 100 mm macro lens and special flash units mounted on the side to capture professional quality photos used to diagnose, treat, and teach various types of dental cases.
That special lens is designed specifically for capturing detailed close-ups. Naturally, the lens has a filter on the front to both protect the lens and to filter out unwanted light. It is near perfect for its use.
But it is terrible for making photographs of landscapes, sports and night activities.
It would need an entirely different lens and set up for those.
A professional photographer is one who understands the principles and technology of writing with light – making outstanding photographs no matter the circumstance.
He knows when to change then lens, when to apply just the right filter to get the shot.
THAT is what makes him a professional.
What Too Many Practice Professionals and Entrepreneurs Do
Sadly, too many practice professionals and entrepreneurs do not have the ability to change their lenses of how they “see” their practice or business.
Many have the same lens they use over and over no matter the circumstance. Others simply refuse to learn to use new lenses.
Some acknowledge the need for a different lens, but apply filters that mar the results desired.
If you run a business or practice, it is not enough to be good at just one thing, to use a single lens.
One needs different lenses at different times. No, one cannot have but a single lens to view all circumstances.
Playing Favorites – the Danger of the Single Lens
Let say one has a particular favorite lens – the numbers of the business. In fact, he does a bang-up job with handling numbers – one that a CPA or CFO would nod in hearty approbation. This is great and horrible at the same time.
What if the needed lens is marketing or operations or human resources or research and development and the financial lens is applied first? You know the answer – that part of your practice or business will fail to expand or, worse, shrivel for the lack of the correct viewpoint and its implications – the right lens.
Now this does not mean that the finance lens is never applied. This is business. Money is the lifeblood of ongoing success. So, the second lens applied must be the financial considerations of the decisions made in every other arena of business or practice. Then, together the picture becomes clearer.
Often the second lens of finance will determine whether the project, even if successful, is worth doing.
This is where the financial lens shines. Unfortunately, this is also the lens that is usually ignored or given short shrift by those who prefer the marketing or clinical care lens or some other favorite lens.
Further, the effects of the financial lens when applied first, cascade down to the all the other elements of the business. At the beginning of the Great Recession, astute CFOs of large companies predicted what would happen to their companies and took immediate financial steps to cut costs. Other companies who did not have this CFO function or prediction either suffered mightily or went under.
While cutting costs can be a great profit booster, it must be done with the understanding that these cost cuts cannot weaken the product or service delivered. A quick example: once upon a time the fine accounting team at McDonald’s decided to substitute cheaper ingredients in the special sauce that made a particular hamburger famous. It started tasting differently- suddenly it wasn’t so special. Patrons voted by deserting the brand called McDonalds. A financial lens was applied incorrectly.
The Role of the Leader
No one lens will lead to a successful venture. One must become a “lens player” if you will. This is the role of the leaders of any practice, company or group that wants to expand and grow profitably.
Do circumstances and situations help decide what lens to use? Of course! And there is more – nuance. Filters on a photographic lens are applied based of the available light and the desired effect. In other words, the context and nuance in which the picture will be made.
Context, likewise, sheds a different light on decisions and reasons to go outside the norm. For a new or growing entity, marketing budgets must be bigger to become known and drive in new customers, clients and patients. Yet for an established business, these expenditures could be one third to one half lower.
The Trap of Being Focused on Using One Lens
The trap is to be so focused on one lens and filter that the other required lenses and filters are omitted, denied or disregarded.
Artists are famous for denying the finance filter. “The work stands for itself,” may assuage the conscience of the artist, but does nothing for the business savvy gallery owner who has to sell the work and leaves the artist poor.
This trap occurs even when good people are attempting to be “even-handed,” so long as you agree the circumstance matches the lens and filters they prefer to use. The CFO and the V-P of Marketing have a built-in tension as one wants to spend more and the other wants to spend less.
What the Real Professional Does
What does a real professional do? He embraces the need to use many lenses and many filters. He continually works to broaden his ability to artfully use the science to reach the right decisions.
I will finish with a quick little story.
There once was a frog that lived at the bottom of a well. Every day he would look up at the sky from the depths of the deep well. Never once did he consider what might lie above if he only would come up and take a look. It was always the sky. That what he thought the world was.
That singular lens and viewpoint robbed the frog of a very different world.
Is it time you came up to take a look at other possibilities you may have shut out?
Here’s what’s next. Saunter on over to the place committed to helping you become a real professional where you own your practice instead of the practice owning you: www.MasterYourPractice.com.
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