Go deep.

Go deep.

If you’ve been listening to The Burleson Box podcast, you’ve probably heard me brag on our guests for going “a mile wide and a mile deep” on the topic of their well-researched and referenced books. They think and behave in opposition to everyone else around them, and that’s why I seek them out and ask them to come on the program.

When it comes to any subject, hobby or career, most people go a a mile wide and an inch deep. That might have worked 20 years ago, but not today.

When I started at the cleft lip and palate program at Children’s Mercy Hospital 15 years ago, the department chair told me when he was a young specialist, back in the 1970s, parents would come to the hospital from all over the region, just to find out what congenital condition their child had. Today, the parents are card-carrying members of the non-profit research organizations trying to find a cure for their child’s condition. They almost always know more about the diagnosis and prognosis than our team. 

When a condition only occurs every 50,000 or 100,000 live births, many of our most-experienced specialists have only seen a handful of these kids throughout their entire careers. But the parents have been on the internet, learning about their child’s condition since birth, or earlier if they received a prenatal diagnosis, and they will not accept the standard of care from the 1970s, when we were simply trying to wrap our heads around each condition and how to do our best to help the parents through the long list of treatment and therapy required for their child.

In other words, it’s no longer acceptable for us to go a mile wide and an inch deep. This is one of many reasons why our cleft palate and craniofacial team has grown to include pediatric geneticists, statisticians, bioethicists and sub-specialists of all types, from surgery to audiology, craniofacial orthodontics and pediatric dentistry. 

Recently. I was reminded how the free market rewards firms and organizations who have the courage, talent and free cash flow to go deep… and how it punishes everyone else.

Stripe, the payment processing and software application programming platform for e-commerce websites and mobile applications, raised a recent round in March at an astronomical $95 billion valuation, making it the most valuable startup in the United States. 

In an interview with Ken Norton, the Business Lead for Payment Experiences and Platforms, Michael Siliski, shared why he left a twelve-year career at Google and how Stripe’s culture is incredibly deep-thinking. It’s a written culture and it is dedicated to moving very, very fast.

The co-founder and CEO, Patrick Collison, keeps a page on his website dedicated to some of the fastest projects in history. I’ve written about one of these examples, the P-80 Shooting Star, here and elsewhere.

A few thoughts and questions this weekend for your practice:

  • How deep is your culture?
  • Do you assemble fast-moving teams?
  • Do you have a written culture?
  • If you can’t go deep, who can do it for you?

One of the biggest misconceptions and mistakes for doctors and business owners who land on “Planet Dustin” is to think you have to do all of this; to think you have to go deep on every topic and opportunity.

Please, please write this down. Tape it to your bathroom mirror and look at it each morning. “I can do anything I want in life but I cannot do everything.”

On private coaching calls and in group meetings, it’s become obvious to me, in a world that is constantly “browsing” to borrow a phrase from Pete Davis, that members are trying to do it all. If you take anything away from your time with me, I hope and pray that you find inspiration and encouragement to be your authentic self and spend your time, energy and money doing things that help you live out your God-given potential; embracing your strengths and unique gifts and outsourcing everything else.

This week, I’ve had coaching calls with members who are diverting their time, energy and attention away from their practice and into all sorts of endeavors that aren’t as productive. I can think of three or four off the top of my head that are so obvious because we have dedicated experts in these areas, so it boggles my mind why a doctor would take their eye off the practice, for example, to go learn real estate on their own, when we have Dr. David Phelps and Freedom Founders to help fast-track your results in that area. 

It makes no sense to me that a member would take their eye off of their team leaders, revenue and net income to go learn Facebook Advertising or SEO, when we have Market Hardware that can do these things for you.

It’s baffling to me that someone would take time out of the practice and away from the chair, to go learn 3D printing and pour money down the drain trying to replicate the phenomenal system Retainer Club has already spent millions of dollars perfecting, when they can simply outsource this to the one place that goes a mile wide and a mile deep to help you and your patients get exceptional retainers at a fraction of the cost anywhere else.

The same can be said for Sean Barnard and Fifty-Eight LLC. I have no interest spending a lifetime trying to learn the lessons Sean and his team have already acquired through the blood, sweat and tears of managing 1,600 employees, so when I have an H.R. issue, I call Sean and he takes care of it for me. Peace of mind is well worth the retainer he charges me.

So, this weekend, take some time and make your list. In an attempt to go deeper and move faster, where are you bottlenecked by your own insistence that you do everything? How can you assemble and deploy smart teams, internally or outsourced, that can get you everything you want?

Some might say our ability to do these things is an unfair advantage over the competition. I think it’s just smart.

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