The Number One Key to Business Development

Tory McJunkin, MD, Joe Carlon, Paul Lynch, MD, Ted Swing, PhDpmnlogo

Dear Arizona Pain Specialists,

I’ve been in practice now for five years and I am in a rut.  My practice has come so far, but it isn’t where I want it to be.  I’d like to grow my practice and frankly deliver better healthcare than we are right now, but I am having trouble doing so.  How can I make my practice better?


Looking to Grow

Dear Looking to Grow,

What a great and timely question.  Many of us set personal goals and resolutions for the New Year: lose weight, workout, spend more time with family, etc.  Rarely do medical practices set goals and/or have a clear vision for their future.  Rather, we are often reactive to changes, such as declining reimbursements or increasing regulations.  It is very easy to fall into a “rut” and most practices experience this trap.  As the leader of your practice, you have the ultimate say – for good or ill – in what your practice will become.


Vision is the number one key for taking your practice to the next level.  Vision crystalizes the who, the why, and the where for you and your employees.  Vision is more than just a happy slogan it is the capstone for your success and everything else builds upon it.  Vision is who you are, why you do what you do, and where you want to go.  As the leader of your organization you are responsible for the successes and failures of your organizations and most of the time they are intimately linked with the vision that you have and convey to your staff.

In Jim Collins book, Beyond Entrepreneurship1 he explains that vision is determined by three tenets, which build on top of each other:

  1. Core values and beliefs
  2. Purpose
  3. Mission

Core Values and Beliefs

Vision is initially made up of core values and beliefs or the who. It’s critically important that your company’s core values and beliefs are the same as your own.  They must be congruent and really must grow out of your own values.  The core values and beliefs that you choose for your business should resonate with the employees that you have and the customers that you serve.  Any person in your organization’s actions should be held up to the standard of your core values.   These should be personal and unique to your organization, but also be timeless.  Your values should serve as a compass for everyone in your organization when faced with daily decisions.

At Arizona Pain Specialists (APS), we have combined our core values and our beliefs into APS’ Values (LIKES):

L– Leadership:  we understand our purpose and set the standard for others to follow.

I– Integrity:  we have honorable character and operate at the highest level of ethical standards.

K– Kindness:  we treat others with love, respect, and an uplifting attitude.

E– Excellence:  we are committed to quality throughout our organization.

S– Service:  we deliver phenomenal care and give back to our community.

In our company culture, we strive to treat each other and our patients with our LIKES.  In addition, every staff member is judged by the way they reflect these values.

Our core values and our beliefs play a large part in any and all decisions that we make and provide a framework to build upon.


Building out of a company’s core values and beliefs are a company’s purpose.  Your purpose is your why.  Why does your practice exist?  Your purpose must be general enough to apply to everyone at your organization, but be specific enough to communicate with others why you do what you do.  Your company’s purpose allows an opportunity for you to connect with your staff and to motivate them. Your purpose should further guide your company and act as a map for your journey to success.

At Arizona Pain Specialists, our purpose is: Providing Hope.  Restoring Life.

Every person within our organization can take pride in the fact that they are doing something meaningful and helping others.  We each play a part in bringing hope into patient’s lives and we all work together to restore quality and function to someone’s life.  Even on difficult days our staff understands that we are working together on something that is meaningful and bigger than any one person.


From your company’s purpose comes your mission.  Mission is the where.  It’s a specific and targeted place where you want to be.  Your values, beliefs, and purpose should be unchanging, but your mission is typically a 5 to 10 year plan that should be adjusted when you have arrived.

At Arizona Pain Specialists, our mission is:  We change lives here by delivering the world-class pain management care that we would want for our own mom or dad.

Our mission lets our staff know that we are not here for meaningless work.  We are here for something much bigger than any one of us – we are here to dramatically and positively change lives.  We can accomplish this by providing the very best care to our patients.  We believe world-class implies safety, best training, cutting-edge, and our LIKES.  Our plumb-bob is the last statement.  At the end of the day are we treating our patients like we treat our loved family members.

Putting It All Together

If you were preparing for a cross-country drive you would look at a map and realize that there are two critical necessities to plan for your journey.  First you need to know where you are, and second you need to know where you are going.  Each of us would do this for a road trip, but consider how much more important it is for our businesses.  It’s important that we understand where we are right now in our businesses and have a clear vision of where we want to go with our medical practices.

Your values and beliefs act as an everyday compass, your purpose acts as a map showing you the way and your mission is your specific and final goal. Core values and beliefs are the ethos, which help to form your purpose, and allow you to fulfill your mission.

Vision provides clarity and direction for the people in your organization.  Vision allows your organization to work as a team. In his book, The Five Dysfunctions of a Team2, Patrick Lencioni wrote:

Not finance. Not strategy. Not technology. It is teamwork that remains the ultimate competitive advantage, both because it is so powerful and so rare… A friend of mine… once told me, ‘If you could get all the people in an organization rowing in the same direction, you could dominate any industry, in any market, against any competition, at any time.’

Jim Collins, the famed leadership author of Good to Great3, Built to Last4, and Beyond Entrepreneurship1, says “the function of leadership…to catalyze a clear and shared vision for the company and to secure commitment to and vigorous pursuit of that vision.”

If you know exactly where you want to go, it’s much easier to arrive at your destination.  Ask yourself what do I want in a practice?  Be specific. Then begin to write down your answers. They might look like this…I want to have a practice that:

-Helps people with chronic pain conditions by properly diagnosing their source of pain

-Provides a holistic treatment plan to address all of a patient’s pain needs

-Provides comprehensive care with a counselor, chiropractor, physical therapist, and a nutritionist

-Allows me to perform minimally invasive interventional procedures that are effective at relieve pain

-Allows me to prescribe medications that help to relieve pain

-Allows me to work 4.5 days/week and have 4 weeks off per year for vacation

-Has a friendly staff

Then look at each one of the things you have written and expand upon that.  A helpful role-playing exercise that we use is to imagine coming to your practice as a new patient and visualize each of the steps that you might go through in the process.  Now really clarify each step of the process.  For example you might say:

I have terrible back pain and my primary care doctor referred me a pain specialist that she says is the “best doctor to help me with my back pain.”  The pain specialists’ office calls me and a friendly staff person introduces themselves.  They are kind and empathetic as they ask about my back pain.  This gives me hope, and they arrange my appointment within a week.  I’m emailed a reminder about my appointment. When I arrive in the office, I’m greeted by a friendly member of the pain staff who guides me through the paperwork. Next, I’m seen by a physician who discusses my medical history with me and listens to my current pain problems.  The doctor thoroughly examines me and then explains my diagnosis and treatment plan.  The doctor reassures me that we are implementing the most effective treatments for my pain…

The experiences a new patient would have in the role-playing exercise should match the vision you have of your practice. If not, identify the ways that you are falling short. This exercise should make it clear what you need to do to take your practice to the next level.

Developing your practice to meet your vision starts with your core beliefs and values. The way your practice operates should reflect your most important and unchanging beliefs and values. Your purpose – the reason your practice exists – should inspire and motivate everyone you work with. Though many of the specifics about your practice may change over time, the core values, beliefs, and purpose will remain the same. This enduring purpose will drive the long term goal you set as your mission. Having a vision for your practice – reflecting on and clarifying your core values and beliefs, purpose, and mission – and conveying these ideas to your staff will allow you to continually improve your practice. In doing so, you can make your practice the kind of organization you are excited to lead and that others are inspired to be a part of.  If you would like help clarifying and implementing your vision please visit

Dr. Lynch and Dr. McJunkin own and operate Arizona Pain Specialists, a comprehensive pain management practice that provides minimally invasive, clinically proven treatments, with three locations in the greater Phoenix area. Dr. Lynch and Dr. McJunkin also provide consulting services to other pain doctors around the country through their partner company, Boost Medical. For more information, visit and


1. Collins JC, Lazier WC. Beyond Entrepeneurship: Turning Your Business into an Enduring Great Company. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall Press; 1995.

2. Lencioni, P. The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Leadership Fable. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass; 2002.

3. Collins, JC. Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap… and Others Don’t. New York, NY: HarperBusiness; 2001.

4. Collins, JC, Porras, JI. Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies. New York, NY: HarperBusiness; 1994.