Integration for Continuous Success
Daniel Alter, MSc, MDT, CDT
In dental laboratory technology, the term "integration" has become synonymous with incorporating digital capabilities into diverse workflows and manufacturing processes. However, the Dictionary.com definition is much broader: "an act or instance of combining into an integral whole," which could as easily describe an act of integrating in any organization, place of business, school, etc. It further applies to individual behavior that is brought into harmony with the environment or culture of an organization so that all of the members' personalities become elements of a coordinated, harmonious whole. Focusing on integration, coupled with a keen critical perspective, is extremely important and relevant, especially in our current environment—a result of the pandemic and the return to work. How we utilize our time away from work, how we choose to integrate back into our work environments, and how each laboratory's culture and clientele develop will shape the way our individual businesses look in the future.
It is during times such as these that every laboratory owner and manager should seriously assess what works and what does not, and explore ways to continuously improve. It is an opportunity to better align with your dentist clients' needs and wants, as they too are grappling with similar matters. How can your laboratory provide solutions to their pain points and desires in order to make things better in their individual practices? Whether they are looking for more efficient workflows or improved products, knowing their needs can help you position your laboratory to offer solutions and thereby provide an elevated customer experience. This will strengthen working relationships and create opportunities to gain new prospective clients.
Congruently, similar questions should be considered for internal manufacturing processes and effective organizational mechanisms. Can we achieve better and more efficient manufacturing protocols? Is the laboratory current with its technology and product offerings? Is the talent in the laboratory educated and proficient in the services provided? And what can management do to ensure that everyone performs to their greatest potential? Answering these questions will guide us to the best position our laboratories can support, allow us to develop a stronger standing with our clients, and inform us on how to improve our abilities in order to offer the best possible solutions.
Furthermore, the company's culture and employees' desires are essential factors to integrate into optimal day-to-day procedures. Empowered employees who feel as though they are part of something larger and that their input is vital to the success of the laboratory will engage wholly and take greater pride in their work. For managers, it is as simple as asking questions, listening to answers, and subsequently formulating a plan to follow through on the employee feedback.
Integrating back into the work environment doesn't need to be, nor should it be, a process of recreating the status quo; rather, it is an opportunity to rise above these challenges and plan for a future that is brighter and in which you are better equipped to succeed.
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