Friday, September 9, 2016

RWL Newsletter #9

Greetings from Durham and happy Friday! For your reading, watching, and listening pleasure this weekend, I suggest to you the following links:


What: from the HBR - Bad Writing Is Destroying Your Company’s Productivity by Josh Bernoff

Why: One of the courses I am teaching this semester, Management of a Healthcare Organization I, involves a fair amount of writing by the students. I've intentionally designed the course this way because clear, concise business writing is a critical management skill. I spent some time in class yesterday harassing the students about taking writing seriously, and it just happened that this article popped up in my daily e-mail from the HBR right before class, so I shared it with them, and now I am sharing it with you. It's a quick read, but makes some good points.


What: TED Talk with Daniel Kahneman, The riddle of experience vs. memory

Why: Daniel Kahneman is a psychologist who won the Nobel Prize in economics (yeah, wrap your head around that one). His work with behavioral economics is absolutely fascinating, and in this video he talks about the mysterious way that memory and experience interact. There's even a segment on colonoscopies. This is probably one of my three favorite TED Talks, and the one TED Talk that has influenced my own thinking the most. There are some great management lessons to learn from this. I'll leave it to you to draw those out.​


What: Health Leader Forge interview with Luanne S. Rogers, President & CEO of The Courville Communities.

Why: The Courville Communities is a family owned long term care system in southern New Hampshire. Given the aging of our population, understanding the long term care market is critical for healthcare leaders. Luanne's career journey takes us through the consolidation of the industry over the last couple of decades.

OK – those are my suggestions for this week. If you find these links interesting, won’t you tell a friend? They can subscribe here:
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 .
Thanks for reading and see you next week!
Mark J. Bonica, Ph.D., MBA, MS
Assistant Professor
Department of Health Management and Policy
University of New Hampshire
(603) 862-0598
Health Leader Forge Podcast:
Twitter: @bonicatalent
"I know of no more encouraging fact than the unquestionable ability of man to elevate his life by a conscious endeavor." - Henry David Thoreau

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

power of listening

As I go along doing interviews with senior leaders, one of the things that comes up in one way or another is the need to be a good listener. Many of the senior leaders I talk with make explicit mention of this skill. Listening, rather than directing. Listening is the key to leading, rather than managing.

Saturday, September 3, 2016

yay! we got a hit!

My co-author Lee Bewley and I just received an acceptance for our paper, Mentorship Mediated by Life-Career Seasons: An Analysis of a multi-dimensional model of mentoring among career groups of United States Army Officers.

It will be in an on-line, open-access journal so I'll definitely post a link here when it comes out.

RWL Newsletter #8

here's RWL #8

if you like it, sign up to receive it by e-mail at the bottom!

Greetings from sunny Durham! UNH is officially back in session, and I am back to teaching the next generation of healthcare leaders, which is such an amazing privilege. This is a "back to school" newsletter, because I am going to share with you three things I have shared with my students this week.


What: The 16 most absurd ICD-10 codes By Katie Bo Williams

Why: Because it's hilarious. And today in my finance class I was starting to introduce students to the concept of coding. Did you know there is a code for being sucked into a jet engine? And not only that, there is a code for being sucked into a jet engine more than once? There's some good ones in this article. Just to make you feel a little less bad about that whole ICD-10 thing.


What: Doc Vader Vs. Hospital Administrator by

Why: Again, because it's hilarious. Used this to introduce the idea of HCAHPS, and a discussion about culture. I was just introduced to ZDoggMD by a former student this week - he is going to be a staple in my classes from now on.


What: Are You Ready for a Glorious Sunset? from Freakonomics Radio

Why: Not as funny as the other two, but thought provoking. How do we solve the fact that spend a huge amount of public resources at the end of life, and for the most part rather fruitlessly? What if we set up an insurance contract that paid you out half the sum of the expected costs of your end of life care, and you just took the cash? You have to love how economists think.

OK – those are my suggestions for this week. If you find these links interesting, won’t you tell a friend? They can subscribe here:

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 .

Thanks for reading and see you next week!


Sunday, August 28, 2016

Propublica Nonprofit Explorer

This is a nice tool provided by Propublica. It allows you to find IRS 990s for large charitable organizations. The IRS 990 is the "tax return" for a charity (for example, a non-profit hospital). Included in the 990 is the mission of the organization, its revenue and expenses for the year, and executive compensation. Ever wonder what your favorite charity pays its CEO? You can find out here.

For hospitals, the 990 also includes the Schedule H, the Community Benefits Report. The Community Benefits Report explains what the hospital does to justify its being tax exempt. Hospitals earn a lot of revenue from providing services - which makes them look a lot like a for profit business. Nonprofit hospitals have to show that they are providing a charitable community benefit, such as providing free care to indigent patients, community health education, or public health programs.

It's interesting to look at these documents for a variety of reasons.

Friday, August 19, 2016

RWL #6

this week's RWL newsletter reproduced here:

Happy Friday! Here are this weeks recommendations for your reading, watching, and listening pleasure!


What: in the HBR, To Get More Out of Social Media, Think Like an Anthropologist by Susan Fournier, John Quelch, and Bob Rietveld

Why: I've been thinking a lot about listening. It comes up frequently when I talk to executives about leadership. In this article, listening is applied at the macro/market level. According to the authors, "Social listening promises the Holy Grail in business: superior understanding of customers." What is "social listening"? The essence is customers/consumers/patients are online talking about your firm and your firm's products - whatever those might be. In a sense, your users are giving you unfiltered access to their feelings about your product. So you should listen (or read) what they are saying. But... you should listen like an anthropologist: "Anthropologists and the culturally sensitive analysts who think like them specialize in meaning management. Their function is to take complex bits of data and develop a higher-order sense of them." It is a qualitative approach to research that I am fond of - the authors' point is this approach keeps the data grounded in its context, and does not purify it in a way that quantitative approaches often do.​

(you should be able to get 4 free articles each month from the HBR even if you are not a subscriber)


What: MakerBot and Robohand | 3D Printing Mechanical Hands

Why: This is a short, inspiring video about a South African carpenter who, after losing his fingers in a work-related accident, set out to make his own artificial hand. In collaboration with an American puppet maker, they together developed a low-cost, 3-D printable prosthesis that is changing people's lives. It's really an amazing story of technology and innovation.​


What: The latest Health Leader Forge interview was with John Fernandez, the President and CEO of the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary.

Why: Mass Eye and Ear is a world famous specialty hospital focused on ophthalmology and otolaryngology. During the interview, John surprised me by recommending the One Minute Manager. He recommends the book because it has some basic advice - give people feedback and follow up (here's that listening theme again). According to John, this is a fundamental management task, and it's one that even senior executives don't always remember. Along with planning, feedback and follow up were central themes we came back to repeatedly throughout the interview.

OK – those are my suggestions for this week. If you find these links interesting, won’t you tell a friend? They can subscribe here:

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

notes on recruiting from "Winning the War for Talent"

I just finished reading Mandy Johnson's Winning the War for Talent. I wish I had read this when I was a hiring manager. Even though I worked in the federal government and had very little control over most of the variables she talks about, her tips on screening for attitude are insightful.

She talks about evaluating an applicant's past history on three factors: attitude, skills and qualifications, and practical fit (p. 80).

I've spoken with a lot of executives for my podcast, and one of the things I try to ask about is how they go about selecting leaders. I've heard a mix of answers about how they select, but when I ask them what their hardest lesson learned was, it was almost always hiring the wrong person and/or waiting too long to get rid of a poor performer, often the person they shouldn't have hired.

Skills and qualifications refers to formal qualifications like licenses (if required). It also refers to things like the quality of school the person got their degree from (or if they have a degree). So pretty straight forward and relatively objective.

Practical fit sounds a bit squishier, and has to do with whether the person is a good fit for the organization. I just released an interview with John Fernandez, the President and CEO of Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary, one of the world's leading specialty hospitals, and he talks about having a good fit for leaders in his C-suite. His comment is that at that level, it isn't about skills and qualifications (which are necessary, but to get to that level, everyone is skilled and well qualified). His focus was on a good fit for the team. Most of us are never going to work in the C-suite, so Johnson's focus is more about being a good fit for the organization's mission and culture. If you don't like to travel, you're probably not a good fit for a sales job with a big territory. If you don't like sitting behind a desk, you probably don't want to be an accountant.

These latter two are pretty simple. It's attitude that is much harder to judge and Johnson spends a lot more time talking about how to try to evaluate it objectively. All of the executives I have interviewed have talked about attitude in some way, shape, or form. Johnson talks about how most of us think we can articulate what attitude is, but often we don't really have objective criteria. I agree - operationalizing attitude is challenging, especially if you are trying to do it from a resume or CV.

She offers the following five measures of attitude:

measure                            operationalization
positive work ethic          job stability
                                         early workforce participation

perseverance                    job stability
                                         completion history (broadly measured - e.g., completed levels of schooling,                                           programs)

achievement                    pattern of demonstrated achievement

works well with              job stability
people                             community involvement

commitment                    job stability
                                        targeted cover letter
                                        speed of application
                                        targeted CV

Do you think she values job stability? One of her big themes is good recruitment doesn't just mean filling the job, but filling it with someone who will stay. So job stability is a good indicator of that. But it also is a good indicator for a host of other problems. Not particularly interesting in itself, but interesting to see how important it is. Some other items interested me. I once hired a woman based on her volunteer work. She was a Navy spouse so I knew she didn't necessarily always have the opportunity for meaningful work. But she took on the family support group leadership for an air craft carrier - a ship with 5,000 crew members. Her job was to help coordinate the families and help them work through problems when their husbands and wives were off on the ship somewhere and couldn't help. And she did that as a volunteer. She was a great employee when she was being paid. Early workforce participation is another interesting point. Learning the value of work early is probably a good trait, though I have to say I never thought to ask about that. Targeted CV and cover letter are obvious to me, but I guess not to everyone.

How would you operationalize attitude? I think it's an interesting exercise.