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Discovering Interdependence


t Seattle Study Club® we regularly accomplish tasks that seem impossible at the outset. We are incredibly lucky to have an extremely motivated group of individuals on our team. None of us likes to admit it, but sometimes executing various projects around the office can really try our patience. Though we appreciate each other, we have felt for awhile that we could improve our team processes. Last year, Bruce Manchion offered to work with our staff to help us become a more effective team. We all jumped at the opportunity.

Tearing Down the Walls Our interaction with Bruce began with his assistant interviewing each of us over the phone to find out what we like most and least about our jobs and whether we had any specific frustrations. The fact that everything we said would be shared anonymously encouraged us to be very candid. The first time Bruce came to our office nobody knew exactly what to expect, but we were all excited to get started. He began by sharing the results of his survey—showing many points where responses had singled out individuals without revealing who those individuals were. After reviewing all of our survey questions, he pulled up a chair in front of of us, sat down and asked us who was going to start. We all kind of stared at him blankly for a bit and he finally said; “Obviously, many of you are frustrated with members of your team—now is the time to talk about it.” I watched and listened as a few of my co-workers slowly began to talk about the difficult topics. Finally, with my heart pounding, I decided to join in. It wasn’t easy, but Bruce helped me along as I spoke to my teammates about how I felt they were getting in my way. I believed my opinion wasn’t being considered in many cases and wanted to have more of a voice in our meetings. Bruce helped keep me on track as I shared the details of what I had been holding onto and asked me pointed questions about why I felt as I did and why I hadn’t done anything about it sooner. I quickly realized that by keeping quiet I wasn’t part of the problem—I was the problem. Each one of

us went through this process that day. Needless to say—it wasn’t easy. Bruce asked us why we had never said anything before and the answers were all the same. We didn’t want to hurt each other. We didn’t want to add to anyone’s workload. We wanted it done our way. We arrived at the conclusion that we were all working beautifully as individuals, but we were not nurturing the Seattle Study Club team.

Interdependence We all know what it means to be dependent and independent. However, interdependence is not something we typically consider. Interdependence occurs when each side of a relationship needs the other to be successful. Bruce illustrated this by extending his arm straight out from his shoulder toward a wall, flattening his hand and then leaning against it—allowing it to hold him up. He was dependent on the wall to keep him from falling. The wall was independent of him—it would be doing the same thing whether he was there or not. Then he asked Jane to come up to the front of the room. She and Bruce both extended a flat hand out to one another and leaned toward each other at the same time. Finding a balance, they wound up interdependently holding each other up. If either Jane or Bruce stopped dynamically supporting the other both would stumble and possibly fall. This process illustrated the point that our team had not been working interdependently. We each had a strong sense of ownership of our individual areas and were extremely committed to the Seattle Study Club, but our misguided habits of wanting to spare our co-workers’ feelings and avoid conflict was beginning to inhibit our ability to improve our processes. Though this process of tearing down our walls was difficult and painful, we all truly felt better at the end. We were happy to know how our actions were affecting our co-workers. We learned we could trust each other, not only to help each other when necessary, but also to be honest without being brutal.

DiSC® Before our next meeting with Bruce we each took a short online test to determine our DiSC profile. This is a behavior assessment tool—not a personality profile. The results show how we each tend to behave in a work environment. We learned about all of the individual profiles and how to use this knowledge to communicate and work together more effectively. There isn’t enough room to go into great detail on each behavior style here, but I’ve listed a short description of each below. D—Dominance People with the D style tend to be direct, results-oriented, firm, strong-willed and forceful. I—Influence People with the I style tend to be outgoing, enthusiastic, optimistic, high-spirited and lively. S—Steadiness People with the S style tend to be eventempered, accommodating, patient, humble and tactful. C—Conscientiousness People with the C style tend to be analytical, reserved, precise, private and systematic. We have fairly even distribution in our office of all of these behavior styles. This means that we have the potential to benefit greatly from our varying perspectives—but only if we can learn to function interdependently. Understanding what style each of us tends toward has been a valuable tool in helping us to communicate better and integrate everyone’s views on each group project.

Putting Knowledge into Practice The work we did with Bruce immediately changed the way our office runs on a daily basis. The shift has been subtle, but significant. The most visible outward manifestation of this came with our process of managing Symposium this year. With our new understanding of each other, Shaida and Lisa decided to think about

our behavior styles as well as our individual roles in the office when assigning Symposium responsibilities. I know this sounds like it should have been obvious, but in the past we would all be responsible for a little bit of everything—often sending each of us from one end of the property to the other many times a day. This method came from a good idea; the event directors never wanted any one person to be stuck doing something tedious or challenging the whole time, so they would spread the load for each responsibility. This time, we looked at what our everyday roles are in the office, who we typically interact with and what we are responsible for and created corresponding Symposium departments. Our education director became responsible for managing all of the speakers in the main ballroom. Our event director with the most A/V knowledge was dedicated to managing our light, sound and video team; our clinical sherpas were able to be hosts— making sure all of our clinical attendees had everything they needed; the director of communications was able to focus solely on managing the non-clinical program; and our partner liaison was able to focus on the needs of the partners in attendance. Everyone else was allocated to work with hotel staff and ensure that everyone who was “front-of-house” had all the support they needed—checking buffets, room sets, placing handouts and managing the myriad details that go into each and every session. We approached Symposium this year not really knowing how this was going to work out, but we were hopeful. And it worked. It really worked. All week attendees stopped us to ask what we were doing differently and tell us that, for the first time, we didn’t all look exhausted. Symposium has always been a bit of a doubleedged sword. We love being able to interact with everyone and we are energized by the looks of amazement and smiles we get from each attendee every year—but by the end of the week we are typically physically and emotionally spent and need at least a week of recovery before we can function normally again. This time around, when we all went to the airport to go home we actually wanted to share a final Symposium dinner together and reminisce about the week. We were sad to be getting on that plane and wanted to prolong the magic of the meeting—even if it was just for one more dinner.


Follow-Up Bruce sent us a long note after witnessing us in action at Symposium. He wanted to show us how to keep the momentum going. There is a strong tendency to pick apart an event like this and talk about everything that went wrong after it is finished. (He knows us so well!) Bruce encouraged us to pick apart what worked well and why it worked rather than talking about where we fell short. He also reminded us to celebrate our success. In typical SSC-style, Dr. Cohen and Suzanne decided to do something more meaningful than a nice dinner to celebrate our Symposium win. They brought Brian Bradley and Martin

On The Cover — Dr. Maurice Salama, Dr. Burt Melton, Ms. Joy Millis and Dr. Marty Wade

McFarland of Egoscue to our office to provide personal evaluations for each of us. For two days, they studied our movements, found each of our trouble spots and provided us with individualized menus of exercises to re-program our muscles and joints to move more freely. It was truly a life-changing gift! Thank you, Bruce, for helping us find the path to creating a true team. We now know we’ve only scratched the surface of what we can accomplish! Bruce Manchion, CEO of Universal Training Concepts, Inc. can be reached at 513.779.7134 or


he four individuals featured on the cover of this issue of The Journal were the 2004-2007 recipients of The Charlie English Community Education Award. Charlie English was a dental educator who exemplified the attributes of a dedicated contributor to the profession of dentistry. Each year, we present this award to dental educators whom we believe are following in the footsteps of this remarkable man. Dr. Maurice Salama has lectured at many SSC Symposia and visited countless clubs over the years. He brings unique clinical insights into every presentation with his highly-skilled ortho and perio background. Dr. Burt Melton has been an active advisor and educator in the SSC network for many years and his knowledge has impacted numerous Seattle Study Club® members. Joy Millis has been presenting to Symposium attendees and individual study clubs for the last 20 years. Her valuable insights on practice management are only slightly exceeded by her amazing ability to infect everyone in her presence with her endless enthusiasm. Dr. Marty Wade is a long-time director and speaker in the SSC network. His kind and caring mannerisms come across in his teaching to impart valuable knowledge to anyone who crosses his path. It is my pleasure to honor these outstanding educators again with this issue of The Seattle Study Club Journal. – Michael Cohen DDS MSD


Discovering Interdependence Seattle Study Club Journal Guest Editorial

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