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Tiger Teams: Who they are. What they do. and Why you need them NOW.

Mar 26, 2020

Want to know a tool that we’ve used to drive accelerated decisionmaking within wildly successful dental practices?

I’ll tell you...

TIGER TEAMS! No relation to Joe Exotic or Carol Baskins. Those ones might kill you. 

Tiger Teams are a THING, you guys. We didn’t make this one up. Let me break down where this term comes from, then I’ll dive into what they are and how to leverage them right now within your own practice.

The Origin of the “Tiger Team”

If you know your history (or watched the movie Apollo 13) you might remember the use of the term “Tiger Team” to describe the team that was deployed in 1970 when the Apollo 13 service module malfunctioned and exploded.

“Tiger Team, we have a problem.”

So, what happened?

Some people gawked at the impossibility of it all.

“There’s just no way. There’s no way we survive this. It just can’t be done.”

Close briefcase. Lights off. Head home.

Others had a different opinion.

“No. Failure is not an option. This needs to get figured out.”

This second group of people saw the problem as an equation, and we needed to solve for x — no excuses. And even though the solution was still over the horizon, they did know one thing:

The same thinking that got them into this poop storm wasn’t going to get them out.

Or, in Albert Einstein’s words, “We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.” (Louder for the people in the back!)

Something needed to be changed. Namely, the brains, the team, and the execution behind the whole operation.

Let’s stop here a moment. Can you relate this to your practice or business? If you’re in a tough spot right now, what are you going to do differently moving forward to change your results? It certainly can’t be the same thing that got you here.

What got you here won’t get you there. Period. End of story.

(But wait, there’s more!)

Let’s take this to the present moment. We are right in the middle of a crazy time in history. It’s volatile. It’s uncertain. Every five minutes, new information arises. Barometric pressure, regulation, legislation, public health...woah.

The world is moving and changing fast.

So, when it seemed like all was lost and no one knew what to do what did NASA do?

They brought in a Tiger Team. A team that would, ultimately, churn out a solution to the impossible and save the day.

The Tiger Team was a specialized, cross-functional team that was brought together to investigate then solve the monumental problem at hand.

They saved the day when literally everything was broken. The metaphorical shit had hit the fan. Lives were at stake. It was a problem of intergalactic proportions.

When Your Dental Practice Needs a Tiger Team

A Tiger Team functions by delegating responsibilities to elevate individuals, the team, and the business as a whole. The problem right now is that there are just too many decisions to be made for just one person. If you’re the owner of a dental practice, you don’t have time to dabble in every single decision that comes up. And if you do, something will eventually have to break.

And, in my experience, both personally and with the people I’ve coached, it’ll most likely be you.

I’ve cracked and broken under pressure and overwhelm. I’ve been in pretty dark places when trying to juggle it all when really, all I needed was my team (or teams).

I just couldn’t do it alone. No one can.

And with the way things are going in our world and economy, let me make one thing clear: Leveraging a team is the key difference between sinking or swimming. And it’s the only chance you’ve got to ever experience financial and time freedom through your business, now or in the future.

There’s never been a crisis in our lifetime where the right action steps have been so critical. And as the leader of the business, you’ve got to focus on the big stuff that matters most and have a rockstar Tiger Team that can handle the rest.

As you read this, are you cringing at the thought of letting go?

From one (recovering) anal-retentive control freak to another, let me be the first to tell you that you are not alone. I, too, had a hard time letting go until the pain of NOT letting go was just too much to bear. I had no choice but to grow into the next level of business management. It was either that or bust.

If you’re hurting right now under the pressure of your business, you’ve grown out of your current way of doing things, too — and it’s time to change your thinking to find the solution to your problem.

And if you’re frozen and feeling overwhelmed, a Tiger Team is your solution.

Running a successful business isn’t all offense (revenue generation) and defense (expense management). It also includes an important third variable, and this is where your Tiger Team comes in to make the play for reactions and immediate decision making. And that’s how you win the game.

What a Dental Organization Tiger Team Does

Within our organizations, we had to create a team of specialists to open up new locations. We had found that many things came up over the course of the day during the process of opening up a new location that needed swift and immediate responses. People needed to feel empowered to make decisions on a dime and execute instead of having to ask and wait for responses from a singular leader. We’ve also created Tiger Teams for crisis situations, like a financial mix-up or hurricane, or more standard things like HR and payroll. Within my company, I’ve even used a Tiger Team to get things off my plate when things were going downhill.

Right now, people are afraid to make decisions, and it’s hindering their ability to execute at all.

Don’t let this be you. Even if you have a solo practice, a Tiger Team can be your best bet for external communications, client reach-out, payroll decisions, and daily operations management.

Important to note here is that there’s a difference between delegation and dumping crap on other people. Delegation requires a deeper strategy and requires you, as the leader, to step away from things you clung onto so firmly. You may be surprised to find you were the problem the whole time. (You bottleneck, you.).

How to Build a Killer Tiger Team

There are four functional pieces to every Tiger Team.


Alignment means that every individual knows what the team is trying to accomplish and understands their role in making it happen. They know their purpose, the task at hand, and the desired outcome right from the start — and it’s crystal clear, specific, and precise.

Let’s say you’ve got a Tiger Team to manage spending. Don’t just say, “Cut costs.” Get clear on what your spending has been, where it needs to be, and what needs to be maintained in the process, such as quality, speed of delivery, order simplification, and waste reduction (to name a few). Define what everything looks like to keep your team aligned and clear on your vision while still maintaining the quality and service your clients have come to expect.

Warning: With the right Tiger Teams in place, they will find chinks in your armor and call you out on weaknesses, bottlenecks, and hold-backs you didn’t even know you had. After all, that’s what they’re there to fix. Be receptive and open to changes. That’s how you’ll grow as a leader.


Once you’ve got a team that’s aligned, you’ll need an execution plan. These are your functional rules of engagement. The goal is to have a fully self-sufficient team that only comes to you if absolutely necessary; they know their guardrails and structure beforehand, what they can and can’t do, and are off and running. Important to note here is that guardrails are absolutely necessary for your team’s success. And don’t think that guardrails and structure limit your team’s creativity because the opposite is true.

They’ll need to know things like:

What resources are at their disposal

Where to start

When the project is complete

When to go to leadership


Next, you need to document everything that comes out of your deployment plan. Within our businesses, we sucked at the documentation for a really long time — and that’s where all the wisdom lies. Like I mentioned before, when you deploy your Tiger Team things are going to come up that you didn’t even know existed. Weaknesses within your operations are going to become painfully obvious and some of your past decisions will be challenged by new data. Documenting the important things is so important so you grow and don’t make the same mistakes twice.

In our practice, people were hesitant to change things I had put into place years prior that weren’t up-to-date or even applicable anymore, simply because I had been the one who had done it. Remember, there will be changes and advancements down the road, things will need to adapt to your growth, and documentation will help your business keep lunging forward without taking steps back. Scaling isn’t a one-time thing.


Once you’ve aligned with your team, deployed your strategy, and documented your critical data, it’s time to disseminate what you’ve learned. Break down your data into functional parts, analyze it, share it, and incorporate it into your processes and procedures.

A Key Function of Tiger Teams

A key function of Tiger Teams is...drumroll...employee engagement. In this day and age, we’re dealing with an entirely different workforce, and it’s one that wants to be a part of something that matters. The younger workforce cares about work that is aligned with their passions, and employee satisfaction is critical for retention and growing a dynamic team.

We frequently hear business owners complain about a lack of employee engagement, but the problem is often that the employees aren’t given the chance to shine, grow, and learn new things. If they’re never empowered to step up, why should they feel that they can?

When we implemented Tiger Teams, so many leaders stepped up. People developed passions they didn’t realize they had, moved into management positions, and were able to teach others their individual specialty. Had we not engaged them through a team, they would have never had the opportunity to step into a role that was fulfilling and rewarding for them and massively beneficial to the company.

When you actively engage your employees, they’ll commit to the vision, trust you, and have your back. They’ll also need to know you have their back, too. When this happens, everyone grows and elevates each other. This is how you’ll scale and grow, even in the most difficult or complex times.

Some Tiger Team Examples for Dental Practices

You can deploy Tiger Teams for a variety of things, like public outreach, charity, practice enhancement, patient activation after the storm is gone, patient acceptance, system maximization, and efficiency optimization. Remember that failure is part of the process and something everyone has the opportunity to learn from. Bring challenges to the forefront, discuss them, and use them as a way to get closer to the finish line.

Crises are some of the best behavior modifiers ever. They force us to get accustomed to discomfort, push past blocks, and crystalize our vision for the future even further. Let’s use this one as an impetus for change and improvement by leveraging quick and powerful TIGER TEAMS!