Manage Your Practice

Management by Wandering Around (Someone Else’s Business)


Tom Peters popularized the style of business management in which the manager cruises the workplace observing and interacting. He referred to it as “management by wandering around.”

The same observational style applied to instances within and, equally or even more so, outside of your specific practice specialty, or business, or industry, provides a tremendous amount of information that can be applied to your benefit.

Henry Ford developed the automobile production line after observing the way that hogs were “processed” in a slaughterhouse.

Walk-in clinics owe as much, actually more, to fast food operations as they do to operating room operations.

The key is to always be observing and learning. A trip to the dry cleaner or to the pharmacy becomes fun: what can you learn, what can you see, what do you never want to allow to happen in your business operation?

For example, on a recent visit to a chain store pharmacy, I saw bottle caps strewn on the floor behind the counter, wadded up paper on the floor next to the trash can, overheard an employee complaining that the line of customers was unending, and overheard customers complaining that they were going to find a new pharmacy. A virtual treasure trove of business lessons.

Or for example, while touring an emergency room, I noticed this bizarre business goal (see the sign pictured below) touted by the hospital:

Our Goal: Very Good Care during your stay!
Sign in E.R.

Very good care? Why not excellent care? What message does this send to the scared and nervous patient or to his or her family? That the E.R. staff is going to be doing good enough work?

The idea of course is not to simply notice and chuckle (or cry if you are waiting in that pharmacy line or your little Johnny is the E.R. patient). It’s to take what you observe on your wanderings and apply the lessons learned in your own business or practice.

It’s easy. That’s why no one does it.

Leave a Reply