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How Siri and Alexa are destroying your veterinary team's ability to think

Posted in Our Community @ Aug 19th 2021 - By Dr Diederik Gelderman, Turbo Charge Your Practice
How Siri And Alexa Are Destroying Your Veterinary Teams Ability To Think

Long before we had GPS, Ways, Google Maps and, “Hey, Siri”, we only had paper maps and map books like ‘Gregory’s’ and the ‘Thomas Guide’.

When you got your first car, it came with ‘the bible’, a religious artifact, one that lived in the glove compartment or in the back seat of every car.

ASIDE: People of my age will also undoubtedly remember the many arguments between the navigator (aka ‘passenger / wife / partner / husband’) and the driver as to whether the fastest route was being taken.

When I had a large animal practice in Maitland, I would study the local Map Guide before going on call to visit clients because your route would be a frenzy of flipping pages back and forth across the complex index system. 

It was a good idea to get familiar with your routes before you had to make the trip. To this day, if someone mentions streets in almost any place in the Maitland, Cessnock and Kurri Kurri area, I know exactly where it is and how to get there. 

But just recently, I met somebody who had once lived in East Maitland. He said the name of a street I’d never heard.

This ate at me. 

So later I looked up the street on the internet and I discovered it is a street that I frequently used when I took a back-way to get out of my area but I never even knew its name. 

And now I would say that it’s Siri’s fault. 

Whenever I’m going anywhere, the first thing that I do even before strapping on my seat belt, is to “Hey Siri, give me the direction to wherever”. And then she does all the Map Guide, page flipping or whatever it is she does and guides me all along my route. 

The trouble today is, if I’m most anywhere not too far from home here and my phone dies or I can’t get mobile reception, I’m snookered, I’m lost. I might wander out into the urban wilderness forever never to be seen again – or that’s how I feel. 

You see, a GPS is great! It mindlessly and effortlessly guides you all along your journey.

Even if you screw up, it will be right there to alert you and to be sure that you don’t keep drifting off track and it will instantly reroute you no matter how convoluted your route has become and ‘she’ guides you right back on track. Totally mindless and effortless for you. 

And while this is great, it also creates a great dependence, massively decreasing the actual learning of your terrain and dramatically diminishes the attention that you give to your environment. 

Our AI assistants are making us lazier and dumber

In many ways, our artificial intelligence assistants are making us lazier and dumber than ever. 

Now there is an easy button for everything and it’s literally shrinking our brain. 

Scientific American reported on a Chinese study that scanned the college age high volume internet users and found that their brains had literally shrunk as much as 10 to 20%. 

As a leader - are you your team's GPS?

Here is the key point: as a leader, you are acting as your people’s GPS. 

You are telling them where to go and how to get there. You are giving them turn by turn directions and if they get off track, you’re there to alert them and then instantly re-route them.

Soon they will stop paying attention and learning for themselves. They don’t need to. You’re always right there, telling them what to do. You have created a dependence – an UNHEALTHY dependence.

And this atrophies their growth and development process, you are literally shrinking their brain by not allowing them to figure it out on their own and you’re stunting their potential. 

Now, without you and your constant instruction, they grind to a standstill. Then you complain, “Why aren’t you making any progress? Why aren’t you figuring out for yourself? Why do I always have to tell you what to do?” 

It's not their fault, it's Siri's fault ....and you're Siri.

By the way, this is not only true of overly meddling leaders at the vet practice, but this is also true of overly meddling parents at home. 

I know that you think you are trying to be helpful, trying to help guide and make their journey faster and easier, but you are actually creating dependence, you are stunting their growth and development process, you are handicapping their skill and ability to figure it out for themselves. 

And if you are not there at every moment, they will wander out into the urban wilderness forever, never to be seen from again.

How do I do this?

The next time a member of your team asks, “How do you do such and such?” 

Respond with “I’m sure you’ll figure it out” and let them. And even when you see them traveling off course, unless they’re heading full-force over a cliff, just let them get lost. Let them learn the error of their ways. Let them learn to figure it out about how to find their way back. 

This is hard for you, because you want to help protect and you want to help guide them every way you can. While this is good intentioned, it is greatly handicapping them. 

When you give a person a crutch, they learn to limp… 

You are causing your people, your children to limp. You are the crutch. They are continually saying “Hey mum” or “Hey boss” and there you are, at their beck and call like Alexa or Siri. 

While it’s hard, this is one of the greatest responsibilities we have as leaders and as parents to let those under our care safely find their own way. 

About Diederik

On graduation I purchased a Veterinary clinic in Maitland, NSW and sold it in July 2009. At the time of purchase, it was a run down one person clinic with about a 90% mixed and 10% small animal component. The business grew well, so that at one stage there were 4 branches and 8 Veterinarians.  At the time of sale there were 5 Veterinarians, 16 support staff functioning out of a purpose built ‘A’ class Hospital with one branch.  In 2004 the practice won the Pfizer/AVA Practice of Excellence Award as well as coming 3rd in the Fujitsu Customer Service Awards. 

At this stage (and even slightly before), I started co-presenting at trainings and workshops and in 2007 I started developing and hosting my own workshops. In July 2009 I sold my practice so as to be able to concentrate fully on my coaching, training, speaking and workshop business – and to be able to move to Exeter (NSW) to be with my partner. I missed clinical practice, so in May 2018 I purchased a veterinary practice with the aim of building it up by providing a highly customer service friendly veterinary practice alternative to the local community. In 12m we have grown the practice gross fee turnover by 53.1% and trebled it's net take home profit. 

Visit the Turbo Charge Your Practice Page in the Vetanswers Business Directory


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