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Go nuclear: gain critical mass for your office

By Steve M. Cohen  bio

Nuclear reactions are a big deal, and in a sense you can gain some of that power in your office with a little planning.

In case physics wasn’t your favorite course, nuclear reactions involve what is called “critical mass,” the presence of enough fissionable material to creation a reaction. If you can create critical mass, then things start to happen.

For our purposes, forget the physical aspect and think about your medical practice. Do you have problems that could be a result of random, uncontrolled “critical mass” situations because of factors such as divisive employee groups or issues kept underground? Or, do you have a mishmash of ideas and no clear focus for solutions to known problems or creation of future plans? If so, you can use the idea of critical mass to your advantage.

As a manager, you have the power to create a critical mass event and tailor it to fit your specific needs. The trick is to get as many people affected by the issue involved as possible. It’s the “more heads are better” idea in a widely participated, organized dialogue. And empowered heads are always better, so critical mass events are structured to accept and value input from those involved.

In simple terms, this strategy involves utilizing a critical mass of your practice in order to create buy-in of all key stakeholders. The premise is that if a critical mass of an organization decides something, then there will be little or no resistance to the implementation of that change. And with little or no resistance, the organization can achieve change at an accelerated pace.

The key to creating and running a critical mass event is identifying the affected stakeholders, having a focus for the dialogue, and serious organization. It is a myth that the larger the group, the harder it is to make a decision. A highly structured event, giving everyone equal opportunity and value for individual input debunks, that idea. Don’t get me wrong, senior management is still making the decisions, but the decisions are formed by significant discussion with empowered participants.

For example, I facilitated a critical mass event for a worldwide ministry that had a great staff, but a declining level of donations that had to be stopped. In this case, the critical mass involved 400 people. Over a period of four days, they came up with solutions for their “customer service” problem—i.e., connecting the staff and support of the headquarters with the staff and churches out in the field. It worked. I will say that, in this case, it was coupled with management training, so while you are brainstorming a critical mass event, consider whether that is needed as well. It depends on the problem and the purpose of the event.

Also know that it doesn’t have to be a big group; the requirements are having a clear purpose, high structure, and key stakeholders. I encourage you to try it.

Steve M. Cohen, Ed.D., CMC is President/Partner of Labor Management Advisory Group, Inc. and HR Solutions: On-Call, both based in Kansas City, MO. For more information, visit or call (913) 927-0229.

The above information is shared by a guest contributor and does not necessarily reflect the views of Medical Office Manager.









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