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Apply black belt basics and systems mastery to your pharmacy

Jason Chenard

As a young Sempei, or brown belt karate student, I went through the frustrating stage every brown belt goes through. At the two-year mark, I wanted to know when I would be nominated for black belt testing. I felt I had mastered the curriculum, could teach it in the kids' classes and represent it to the higher ranks. I could translate the essential Japanese language and body movements into reality, deconstruct the purpose of the movements and utilize the weapons, sparing and tournament aspects of our program.  My sensei read me like a book. 

During a training session, he had me demonstrate a series of premeditated movements to demonstrate techniques, called kata, in front of the class. He stood in front of me, looked me in the eye and launched a side kick into my solar plexus, knocking the wind out of me.The whole class stopped, I recovered to one knee and he empathetically said seven words: “Rotate your pivot foot, master the basics.”

Without full rotation of the pivot foot (the one that plants and turns), my hips were not angled properly and my hands lifted, leaving my core exposed. The principle was taught as part of the white belt curriculum and showed me that I was not ready for a black belt.

Six months later, he then made me lead basics in the kids’ class where I was teaching the importance of the pivot. One year later, I was put up for testing in front of our black belts in a grueling exam. That extra year at brown allowed me to fail before failure could no longer be acceptable. It made me better in weak areas, before building higher. My foundation was stronger, giving me the resistance to survive in the black belt world. He made sure I was past due and over-ripened for the next chapter. He forced me to master the basics.

Patiently over-ripen staff and students. Let them fail while it is safe to do so. From X-ing opened stock bottles, double counting narcotics and asking patients' address at pick-up, to batching blisters, med syncing refills and capturing med reviews with each opportunity, show them how to master the basics. Then repeat those basics over and over, like a flywheel turning without you pushing it. Ensure they can not only understand, but manipulate the basics of your workflow.

What are relentless systems & structure?

Being productively inflexible to breaking down complex components into concise micro movements. This eliminates the need for all-or-nothing solutions. Arrange impeccable procedures into a scalable symphony that creates results. Non-stop fine-tuning according to results provides superiority for decades to come.

In the next article: how my grandfather’s septic tank is a symbol of the hard work that pharmacy requires.





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