Saturday, January 13, 2018

new course, old course

Spring classes start a week from Monday, and I have not written my syllabi yet. Luckily I only teach two classes, and only one of them is a new start. New starts are painful. You have to start from scratch, think through what you want to accomplish, what assignments would be both meaningful and instructional, fair for the level of student while at the same time pushing them to actually learn something. It's all a balancing act. And the act of putting it all down in a schedule is tedious. But that's the price you pay to have the privilege of being a teacher. 

I'm excited to take a second whack at teaching my organizational behavior course using open pedagogy. I am more confident that it is the right approach than I was when I tried it last year. This class is currently sitting at 24 - 10 more students than I had last year. I hope the larger size does not wreck the dynamics. Fourteen was intimate, and hard to hide yourself if you were not contributing. Twenty four may be pushing the limits, but we will see.

RWL Newsletter #78

Greetings from the University of New Hampshire! I'm back in the States, at least in body. One more week to our winter break, and then we start spring semester. I'm really excited because I get to teach a new course - Finance II - which is an introduction to financial management, and even more excited that I get a second whack at teaching organizational behavior, which I intend to do using open pedagogy again. Open Ped is a bit like jazz - it's an act of teaching improvisation. I think it suits me. And I think it provides a level of realism, particularly in the field of management that is valuable. I received notice that my open pedagogy paper will be published in an upcoming issue of the Journal of Health Administration Education. I'll put a link up when it comes out. 


 McKinsey Quarterly, What AI can and can’t do (yet) for your business

Why: I am convinced AI is going to transform healthcare in the same way as antibiotics did nearly a century ago. I think it will be a revolution in value-based care as the technology allows us to increase accuracy of diagnosis, but more importantly allows us to establish predictive models. When that will happen is still in question, but I think it is inevitable. This article is structured around the challenges to AI, so it gives some realism (in understandable English, not techno-babble) to the prediction. It is worth 10 minutes.


 TED Ed, Why incompetent people think they're amazing (5 minutes)

Why: The video does a nice job explaining the "Dunning-Kruger" effect - e.g., why 88% of American adults think they are above average drivers. "Poor performers lack the expertise necessary to recognize how badly they are doing." Some good hints to fix this error - ask for feedback, keep learning. 


What: CATO Institutes, Sally Satel discusses obstacles to organ donation and donor compensation (7 minutes)

Why: Should altruism be the only legitimate motivation for organ donation? I have some emotional difficulty with the idea of a free market in organs, but it seems something is broken in the market for organs - altruism just isn't sufficient. We're still a ways from 3D printing functioning kidneys, though that is on the way. This short podcast presents a few options short of direct cash payment. What do you think?

Friday, December 22, 2017

the renewable assignment - part 2

The fall semester is officially behind us - the students have left for break, and I have submitted my grades.

In my course HMP 721, Management of a Healthcare Organization, I tried to continue my experiment with open pedagogy. I was not able to go to full open ped in this course, but I did introduce some elements of open ped, in particular the renewable assignment

What is a "renewable assignment"?
“A Disposable Assignment is any assignment about which students and faculty understand the following:
  • Students will do the work
  • Faculty will grade the work
  • Students will throw away the work
A Renewable Assignment is any assignment where:
  • Students will do the work
  • Faculty will grade the work
  • The work is inherently valuable to someone beyond the class
  • The work is openly published so those other people can find and use (5R) it”
One form that renewable assignments might take is in the form of books and textbooks.
More here.

I first learned about this concept from Robin DeRosa at UNH's sister school at Plymouth State University.

I call this "the renewable assignment - part 2" because I first tried this concept with my students last semester in HMP 722, an organizational behavior and leadership in healthcare organizations course. The students wrote a primer on organizational behavior. More about that effort here.

This semester the students wrote a primer on the management of healthcare organizations. In line with the course, the primer is more about functional divisions within healthcare organizations, rather than management and leadership, though there is some of that. This first iteration consists of 13 chapters on different topics. Next year's class will inherit their text book and develop it further - revising and adding to the original - thus making it both a resource for the next class as well as a baseline for the next class's assignment.

You can view the primer here:

I think what they have done is quite impressive, remembering this was a self-managed group of almost 50 students (juniors and seniors) who put this product together. What will be exciting is seeing what happens next year.

I would be pleased to share more about this process if you are interested. Just leave me a comment or message me directly.

RWL Newsletter #75

Greetings from the now-empty University of New Hampshire! All the students are gone and I still can't find parking. What's up with that? Sigh. Luckily I live close enough that I can walk to work. Technically today is the second day of winter, but winter seemed to have officially settled in about two weeks ago with our first two storms of the season. I took the above picture after the first storm on my walk to work. This is the Oyster River running through the back side of campus - you can see the UNH water pumping station through the branches on the right. 

Here's this week's links. No theme, but I think they are all super cool. What do you think?

PS - Merry Christmas to those of you who celebrate. Happy week to the rest!



Why: Reading this article yesterday at the breakfast table hit me for three reasons. First, over the course of this semester, many of my students came to realize they had an interest in long term care. They are drawn to it for the opportunity to have high-touch interactions with residents and really make a difference in their lives. Their interest has piqued my own - trying to get them more exposure to what they want to learn about. Second, I just did an interview with the administrative director for telehealth services for Dartmouth-Hitchcock on Wednesday for the Health Leader Forge (look for it in January). What they do at D-H is fundamentally the same as what is being done here - except they provide a much higher level of skill. And third, this exposes more of the evolution described by Tyler Cowen in "Average is Over" - the future is not robots taking our jobs, but humans working with robots in a complementary capacity. I have to say, I really loved this article. A little bit of a tear jerker at the end.


Insider, Here's how prosthetic eyes are made (2 min)

Why: This video definitely belongs in the "this is so cool" bucket. As in, we do some really cool stuff in health care. It's fun to take a step back and look at the small miracles that we as leaders help enable.


What: The Art of Manliness Podcast, The Art of Mingling (40 minutes)

Why: Last week I sent out a few links having to do with networking. This podcast goes very well with those links. In this podcast, the host interviews Jeanne Martinet, author of the book The Art of Mingling. Martinet realized at one point that most people were uncomfortable striking up casual conversations at public events like parties, or even networking events, but she was not. So she wrote a book about her techniques. I haven't read the book yet, but it's on my list now. She gives some great advice about how to read a room, start a conversation, and withdraw from a conversation to make the most of your mingling (networking) opportunities.

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Friday, December 8, 2017

last day of classes - advice

I always try to leave my students with a little advice on the last day of classes. I taught an introductory finance class and an introductory management class this semester. Most of the students were enrolled in both classes, so I tried not to overlap.

Here's is a transpose of the slides from each.



Bonica’s rules of personal finance

Max out your retirement the day you are hired

  • You’ll get used to living on less. 
  • Do it. Even if it means taking longer to pay off your school loans.

Create a cushion savings account –

  • start with 1 month’s pay --> eventually want 3 months

Pay yourself 10% of your take home

  • Pay down your debt as fast as you can
  • Debt is a chain and will hamper your freedom

Buy a used car – 2-3 years old, 30-50K miles

  • High value/dollar

Don’t rush to buy a house – transaction costs, asset concentration


What do you really value? What is important? Ask this all the time.

Don’t let your beautiful things become a prison.

Find joy in the simple and the non-material.


“A man is rich in proportion to the number of things which he can afford to let alone.”

- Henry David Thoreau, Walden



“You are, in fact, a mashup of what who you choose to let into your life.”

― Austin Kleon, Steal Like an Artist: 10 Things Nobody Told You About Being Creative


“Nevertheless, not to extinguish our free will, I hold it to be true that Fortune is the arbiter of one-half of our actions, but that she still leaves us to direct the other half, or perhaps a little less.”

- Nicolo Machiavelli, The Prince


“The love of praise is the desire of obtaining favourable sentiments of our brethren. The love of praiseworthiness is the desire of rendering ourselves the proper objects of those sentiments.”

- Adam Smith, The Theory of Moral Sentiments


“The many speak highly of you, but have you any grounds for satisfaction with yourself if you are the kind of person the many understand? Your merits should not be outward facing.”

- Lucius Annaeus Seneca, Letters from a Stoic


Focus on improving what is inside you, because what is inside you eventually becomes what everyone sees and experiences. If you are better on the inside, you will naturally become a better leader.

Friday, November 24, 2017

RWL Newsletter #71 - thinking about disability

Happy belated Thanksgiving and Happy Black Friday from chilly little Durham, home of the very quiet University of New Hampshire! The students are gone for the long weekend and the streets are very empty - a prelude for what is coming next month when we go out on winter break.

I came across a Nietzsche quote last week that I have been meditating on, "Love is blind. Friendship closes its eyes." That seems like an appropriate quote for Thanksgiving week. No one is perfect and no friendship would survive without a dose of willful tolerance. I took the above picture last weekend out on the shore of New Castle. I like to sometimes compose with this little crystal ball my daughter gave me because it shifts perspectives, and you get in one picture your perspective as well as the shifted one. The key is to blend the two perspectives together to make an interesting composition. I think that is a nice metaphor for friendship, as well. 

For this week I've assembled a few links that deal with disability and society. A lot of what is called for in universal design is a willful tolerance, a willingness to integrate different perspectives into our societal composition, and a willingness to understand that we are not all the same. The glory and challenge of the American project is the bringing together of a highly heterogeneous society in relative peace. 

I'm thankful to be a part of that project.


What: The Atlantic, The Digital Ruins of a Forgotten Future

Why: One of the subjects of this piece, Alice Krueger, I wrote about in a book chapter I wrote a few years ago about public health communication. I stumbled across her work in Second Life and was absolutely fascinated by the community she had helped create and nurture in this digital world. What she realized was that people with disability could be like anyone else in a virtual world, and so she started an organization to help disabled people get online and engaged in online communities. I had a bit of correspondence with Alice and shared my chapter with her after it was published. She is still working in Second Life as well as other virtual communities to help disabled people have richer lives. This Atlantic article is a bit harsh on Second Life, but it does do a decent job highlighting some of the advantages virtual worlds have for the disabled. There are about a million regular users of Second Life now - a tiny fraction of the number who go on Facebook - but to put that in perspective, if Second Life was a country, it would be the 161st most populated country out of 237 listed by the CIA world factbook, three times the size of say, Iceland, in population. That's something to consider. 


 TEDxBoulder, Why We Need Universal Design (10 min)

Why: I first learned about universal design when I interviewed Jill Gravink, the founder and executive director of Northeast Passage, a few years ago. Northeast Passage works with disabled people in a number of capacities. They have an adaptive sports program that provides a variety of opportunities for disabled people to engage in outdoor activities and team sports, as well as a school program where they help schools create inclusive activities for disabled kids. And they do other cool stuff, too. Universal design in principle is the idea to design our built environment in such a way that it allows access for everyone, not just the fully able - ramps instead of stairs, for example. This short video is a nice explanation of the concept if you aren't familiar. The speaker, Michael Nesmith, is deaf. 


What: Design Matters, Kenny Fries

Why: Kenny Fries is a disabled, Jewish, HIV positive, gay man who makes his living writing about disability. Beyond the usual discussion about what we mean by disability, what made this podcast interesting was Fries' discussion of disability in an international context: he has lived and written about disability in the United States, Japan, and Germany. I personally had not thought about the cultural specificity of disability. Other aspects of the interview are interesting as well, such as what makes a life worth living, which as many of you know is a question I perpetually think and write about.

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!