Saturday, November 18, 2017

RWL Newsletter #70

Greetings from cold and blustery UNH! The color has been drained from the trees and we have entered what I refer to as the long grey interlude, part 1. Summer lasts just long enough here that it feels like nothing is ever going to change. It's always going to be green and lush, and it's always going to be in the 70's during the day and just lovely and cool at night. And then all of the sudden it all changes over what feels like about two weeks. The leave change color, it suddenly gets colder, and then the leaves fall and all the trees look like dead sticks. That's the beginning of the long grey interlude, part 1. And then it snows and in New Hampshire, we pretty much get a good blanket of snow going and it stays for the next several months. It hangs on long enough that it seems like it's never going to end until what seems like, over a two week period, everything warms up, and the snow melts, leaving mud and grime everywhere, and you get so excited, except the trees go back to looking like sticks because they don't get their leaves for a what seems like forever: we enter the long grey interlude, part 2The long grey interlude, part 2 is so much worse than the long grey interlude, part 1 because you haven't seen anything green for months and you just want it to be over, but it won't end. And then suddenly it does. Then within a few weeks we get used to having lush green all around us and we forget that this is only temporary. It takes an extraordinary ability to forget to live in New England. I think those of us who don't have it eventually move to Florida. 

Well, here's a few tidbits to chew on while you join me in the long grey interlude. Unless you live in Florida. Then I just have to say I don't want to talk to you right now. Call me in May.


 Forbes, The One Thing Every Organization Should Learn From The New England Patriots, Lance Salyers

Why: Recommended Ryan, one of my students. The article draws some lessons from the Patriots' success - adaptability and resilience.


 Brookings, Unpacked: What’s wrong with the congressional budget process? (4 min)

Why: An interesting discussion that explains some of the reasons why Congress seems to have so much trouble doing one of its constitutional duties - passing a budget for the federal government.


 Health Leader Forge, Timothy D. King, VP of Business Development, G. Greene Construction

Why: I interviewed Tim King about working in business development for a healthcare construction firm. I got to learn a lot about two things I have never worked in myself: healthcare construction and business development. Tim is really passionate about what he does and what his firm does, so this is a great interview.

Thanks for reading and see you next week! If you come across any interesting stories, won't you send them my way? I'd love to hear what you think of these suggestions, and I'd love to get suggestions from you. Feel free to drop me a line by e-mail, or you can tweet to me at @bonicatalent .

Also, if you find these links interesting, won’t you tell a friend? They can subscribe here:

Have a great weekend coming up and do amazing things!


Sunday, November 12, 2017

Solve someone else's problem

Insight in my life often comes when I see the connection between two seemingly unrelated things. This weekend I've been listening to a The Chase Jarvis Show, a podcast about creative entrepreneurs and I've been grading an assignment for my finance class. 

I think it was Jarvis's interview with one of the co-founders of AirBnB in which the guest said entrepreneurship is about solving someone else's problem. Think about that - it's not about getting rich, it's not about being famous, it's not about being powerful - it's about finding a solution to a problem for someone else. I think most of my anti-business friends and colleagues have this perception that business people are only in it for themselves and all they care about is money, power, and maybe fame. Indeed, they do care about those things, but tell me about a politician who also isn't driven by those same desires. But an entrepreneur has to convince someone that the thing s/he has created is worth the customer spending her/his money on. That requires convincing the customer that the product is worth giving up some of their hard earned cash. 

The assignment I gave my students was to do some analysis on some financial statements, and then provide me, in briefing format (I.e., PowerPoint) an answer as if I were the CFO. For example, one of the questions was "tell me the three most important changes in this financial statement over the last year". Some of the answers were literally a list of three things with no further discussion. Just three bullets. Now some of the students got it and provided an explanation for each item that they selected. The latter is an example of solving someone else's problem. Give me a list and you haven't really added any value. Maybe you've even created more work for me because now I may not agree with you, but I don't know why you chose the three things you chose. 

We all bring different skills and abilities to the table. Some of us are very good at planning and organizing (not me), some are good at analysis, and some are good at selling ideas. Whatever it is you bring to the table, you have to figure out how you can use that set of skills to solve someone else's problem if you want to be successful- whether that is as an entrepreneur or as a junior analyst in a hospital. 

The key to success in business is being sensitive to other people's needs, and then helping solve their problems. That's what I'm going to try to explain to my students on Monday when I talk to them about their assignments. And, honestly, it's something I need to remind myself of from time to time.

Friday, November 10, 2017

RWL Newsletter #69

Greetings from the University of New Hampshire! It's Veterans Day. I kind of want to say, "Happy Veterans Day", but that somehow just doesn't seem quite right. As a veteran, I also find myself a little sheepish when people thank me for my service. While I appreciate the sentiment, it's always a bit awkward. I think a lot of us feel the same way. Serving is a big sacrifice in many ways - and that sacrifice is born not just by the service member, but by the service member's family as well (just ask my wife and kids). But it's also a privilege, and it gives you entry into a unique and special culture that people who have never served will never understand. So I guess at the end of the day, I feel like the scales are pretty well balanced. I gave a lot, and I got a lot. I didn't join to get rich, and I was successful in that. But I did leave with a wealth of experiences and friendships that I never could have had without putting on the uniform. I think the best way to really thank a veteran is to be interested in preserving our collective freedoms to be individuals, however that may express itself in your life. 

And now for some completely unrelated links!

(picture above is of my buddy Colonel (ret) C.W. taking battalion command back in 2010)


What: NYT, How to Be a C.E.O., From a Decade’s Worth of Them

Why: Adam Bryant interviewed 525 CEOs for his NYT column, Corner Office. This is a summary of things he learned about leadership. Some surprises. This project is similar to my own Health Leader Forge podcast, so it was fun to compare. (HT to my colleague LS for sharing)


What: TED, Architecture that's Built to Heal, Michael Murphy

Why: I don't know much about architecture, so it's always interesting to listen to someone who can talk about it with so much passion. We actually had a guest speaker in class last week who is the VP of Facilities for one of the local hospitals and he talked about all the subtle ways that the environment of care can influence health outcomes. This TED Talk starts by talking about healthcare facilities, but eventually transitions to spiritual and social healing. Worth a listen. (HT to my student Megan, who writes an excellent blog, BTW)


 Econtalk, Christy Ford Chapin on the Evolution of the American Health Care System

Why: Great discussion about the history of medicine and medical insurance, and the influence of the American Medical Association (AMA) in getting us to where we are today.

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Wednesday, November 8, 2017

NNEAHE Annual Meeting

Very pleased that the Board of the Northern New England Association of Healthcare Executives invited UNH Health Management and Policy students to participate in their annual meeting this year at the Cliff House in Ogunquit, ME. We had about 30 students attend the event. Here is a group of them standing with Kevin Donovan, the CEO of LRGHealthcare and President of NNEAHE.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

trying to balance the three legs of the stool

The pursuit of tenure is in part a balancing act, I am learning. We are to be evaluated for teaching, service, and research when our tenure clock runs out - but everyone says the first two with something of a wink, acknowledging that it's really research that matters. I was at a mentoring meeting a few days ago and someone quoted advice she had received, "If you want to teach, go to a community college." No one seriously expects to earn tenure by serving on committees, so at least there's that. Though my service isn't focused on committees. I learned to hate committees and meetings after a couple of decades in management. If I never have to be on a committee again, it will be too soon. Unfortunately, I'm on a bunch.

The challenge is that when the semester is underway, teaching takes up the bulk of my time. And what's left is filled in pretty quickly with service. The volume of both is self-imposed. I try to create experiences for my students that will meaningfully prepare them for their future careers - and that means lots of written assignments. Written assignments are the worst to grade. They are massively draining. But they are the most important for professional development - they are the only meaningful way to stretch a student's communication and analysis capabilities. I am actively engaged with several professional organizations, trying to extend the brand of our program in the community, and create new professional opportunities for our students and alumni. And of course I have my podcast, which is also at it's core a branding and networking effort as well. The combination of these things is at least a forty hour week. So research stalls, and the balance is completely absent. But how to get around these other things, that for me are the most important reason for why I want to be a professor?

Don't get me wrong - I like my research. I think what I am doing is both interesting and important. But I don't really know how to establish balance. When the students are here, I feel like I need to be pushing their agenda as hard as I can, whether they like it or not.

It's hard. I even went to a writing academy over the summer where they grilled us to "write, write, write". I first authored two papers over the summer, and was a co-author on a third. If I hadn't had some teaching responsibilities over the summer, I probably would have gotten a fourth paper out as well. But once school started back up, I have been sitting with a few things almost done, but making no meaningful progress. Now it's November and all I can think is, I can't wait until winter break so I can get back to my writing, because I don't see a meaningful break between now and then.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

another experiment in open pedagogy

Last spring was such an amazing experience using the principles of open pedagogy to teach my Org Behavior class that I wanted to implement some of the lessons I learned this semester again. This course is "management of a healthcare organization", so it's a bit narrower than Org Behavior, but it still provides a fertile field.One complication: I have 50 students this semester, last semester I had 13.

Nevertheless, I am plowing forward using two open assignments as part of my course: the students will be blogging, and the students will be writing another primer.

The assignment is to create a blog and post one, 200+ word post each week, related to something about health management. 
This isn't really the exciting part, though. What is exciting is I have recruited 34 healthcare professionals who work in management to read the blogs and comment on them. Each reader has been assigned three students, so that each student has two professionals reading their work, plus me. Hopefully that will provide them a sense of writing for an audience, rather than just writing into a vacuum (or writing just to finish the assignment).

With 50 students, I have assigned them to teams of four and told them they will be writing a chapter in a book about the management of healthcare organizations. I'm going to focus on them on organizational units or functions - Department of Nursing, Human Resource Management, or FQHCs. We'll see what they sign up for! I am looking forward to another amazing product.
I'm excited. I hope these open ped concepts work well for them and give them the opportunity to explore and grow. 

Friday, August 25, 2017

RWL Newsletter #58 - back to school!

Greetings from the University of New Hampshire where today is freshman move-in day! I live just around the corner from campus, so when I drove down to the gym this morning, I got to see the RAs lined up outside the dorms helping freshmen and their families unloading their cars to start the move-in process. For me, summer is officially ends today. I am looking forward to seeing my students - I teach the juniors in my program and it was their inspiration that caused me to start this newsletter. I was their faculty adviser freshman and sophomore years, so during the summer I was sending them these links to keep their heads in the game. It was only later that I decided to open it up to the public. Starting Monday, I will finally have all of them in my class, which will be fun. Except I need about two more weeks to finish everything I set out to do this summer. Sigh. There is never enough time to do everything you want to accomplish.

(The above pic is from behind Hewitt Hall, where my office is.)


 from SHRM, 5 Common Questions About Tricky Progressive Discipline Issues, by Paul Falcone

Why: Discipline is the hardest thing we have to do as leaders, in my opinion. This article has some good advice.


 Flash Mob - Ode an die Freude ( Ode to Joy ) Beethoven Symphony No.9 classical music (6 min)

Why: Because sometimes you just need to feel good. I know flash mobs are so 2014, but there was something to be learned from that trend. We love surprises. At least nice surprises. And there was something especially fun about the participatory nature of flash mobs. As humans, we love to be part of something. There are a bunch of management metaphors to be mixed in there, and some that apply to healthcare. Healthcare today is a team sport - it's people doing stuff together - hopefully to please other people. I think the thing I love about this video is the way the surprises just keep coming. If you haven't seen it (which you might have - it's been seen 13.5 million times), it will make you smile. If you have seen it, it will still make you smile. It's worth thinking about how you can generate this sort of planned, positive spontaneity in your organization.


What: The Moth, The Freedom Riders and Me, by Barbara Collins Bowie

Why: I know I just shared a Moth podcast a few weeks ago, but given the recent events in Charlottesville, it seemed appropriate to share the Moth's response. This story is further made appropriate by the fact that much of the story revolves around the quality of hospital care received by people of color under Jim Crow.