Memory and Measurement.

Memory and Measurement.

Barbara Kingsolver said, “Memory is a complicated thing, a relative to truth but not its twin.

In coaching clients, I often ask to see a lot of numbers. KPIs and benchmarks, historical performance and pro forma data are all important. The reason I ask for data is because our memories are not perfect.

  • We think quarter-over-quarter growth was good, but the numbers might indicate we did better or worse than we remember. Measurement helps us discover trends, opportunities or weaknesses and then connect those to future action.

  • We think our employees answer the phone a certain way, present treatment using the most efficient scripts and help patients say yes to treatment, leveraging the best financial options and systems for each family.

  • When we play prospect, secret shop, video and audio record, watching film, however, we see a different reality. One in opposition to our memory. In too many businesses, the reality on the ground simply does not match our gut feeling or memory of how well things are going.

Last year, Burleson Seminars completed hundreds of mystery shops in orthodontic offices for clients paying us to do so. We monitor everything from how many rings it takes to answer the new patient phone call to what shows up in the mail and every word uttered, script used, or lack thereof and the body language and first impression of the treatment coordinator and the doctor.

The results from these mystery shops can totally transform a practice. But, even when I show a new client the data and benefits from secret shopping, many are resistant. They list excuses why secret shopping will be too difficult, too harsh on the team, too expensive, etc. I know. I used to do the same thing. I was resistant to measurement because I was afraid what I would see and I didn’t have the confidence in myself to fix the many problems I was certain would need fixed.

What we really resist is an accurate assessment of our results versus our reality.

In your practice and in your life, you can embrace data and measurement or avoid it. The best results, however, lie on the other side of your assumptions and quick conclusions. We cannot rely on our memories alone. We must measure and we must do it diligently and consistently.

Worked at Burleson Orthodontics. Attended University of Missouri–Kansas City. Lives in Kansas City, Missouri.