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. 

Thursday, August 24, 2017

classes start Monday!

The summer officially ends tomorrow for me. Monday is the first day of classes for the fall semester. I finished my syllabus for my finance class on Tuesday, but I've been wrestling with my management class syllabus for two days and I just can't find the right combination of topics, assignments, and grade weights. Getting the right mix is much harder than it seems when you are a student.

First you wrestle with what you want the students to come away with from your class. This is a difficult starting point for me because my answer is "everything they need to know to be successful." Unfortunately, that's just not possible in one class. And yet I keep trying.

Once you have a sense of the take aways, you have to look at content. What book, articles, web sites, etc. will provide the base material you want your students to interact with before or after class? Here's a secret - you won't have time for all of it no matter what.

Then you think about the deliverables that will help create the learning experience the students need to achieve the take aways. Inevitably, the best deliverables are massive drains on your time and energy (i.e, papers). No one likes to write papers for class. I guaranty you, your teacher likes them even less. Correcting a massive pile of papers is like drinking sand. With a side of fire ants. The multiple choice exam is a complete cop-out. But with large classes, that's about all you can do.

The flip side is, if you assign too much work, students moderate their effort and hand in mediocre products. If you don't assign enough work, they don't learn anything. If you don't assign the right work, they learn that you are a jerk and don't know what you are doing.

It's a complex puzzle to solve, especially with a squishy class like "management". I was stunned to find out I will have 50+ students in my class this semester - about 25% more than last year. Great for the Registrar, terrible for me. You can't have a good discussion with more than about 20 in a class, preferably less. So now I have to think about exercises and activities and assignments that I can do for 50+. Right away that kills any serious use of class time for presentations, a key management skill. It makes me weigh how much writing I can assign, because every paper I assign means I have to multiply that by 50 for grading. Three to five page paper? 150-250 pages of reading - a medium length novel. And I can't just relax and read it - I have to mark up and judge every page's quality. Class size is a game changer.

Nevertheless, I've committed to having the students blog. They will be writing one post a week - which means I will be reading 50 posts a week on top of class prep and any other assignments. I am excited about this assignment, despite the volume, because I've recruited a huge (30+) team of healthcare leaders to read the posts along with me. They will have three students each to follow and they have agreed to comment on the posts, which I think is awesome.

The other parts of the class I am still not sure about. I believe I am going to have them create an open educational resource (OER) book about health management and put it into the creative commons, based on my experience last semester. But how to keep them engaged with the actual class work? That is the question. Multiple choice reading exams? More written homework?

I'm going to use the Army's MDMP process to teach them formal decision making. And then I think I am going to have them produce decision briefs, but probably just hand in the PPTs, not brief them, because I have 50+ students and that is not physically possible without sacrificing half the class meetings to boring briefings.

I am working on killing the disposable assignment, but I am not there yet. Sigh.

Friday, August 18, 2017

RWL Newsletter #57 - the marketing and branding edition

Greetings from the University of New Hampshire! The end of summer is arriving as my father brought us peaches from his tree. We made a fabulous cobbler last night with them. With the end of summer, I turn now to preparing for my fall courses. I am looking forward to this class because I was the faculty adviser to most of them during their freshman year, and now they are juniors. I only arrived on campus one semester before them, so in some sense we have been learning about the UNH at the same time. And it was for them that I started this newsletter.

This week I released my interview with Sean Tracey, the founder of a full service marketing firm specializing in healthcare clients, and so this week's theme is around marketing and branding - personal and organizational branding. This is a fascinating and important topic. I hope you enjoy the links.


 from Eater, What Brands Are Actually Behind Trader Joe’s Snacks? by Vince Dixon


Why: I love Trader Joe's. I don't know anyone who doesn't love Trader Joe's. What's to not like about Two Buck Chuck and a box of Joe-Joe's? It's like an unpretentious Whole Foods. And that is the power of their brand - good quality, great prices, interesting selection. What's fascinating about the store is almost everything is store brand - the branding is at the store level. Brands convey all sorts of information - particularly quality. A brand is a guarantee because the firm behind the brand is putting its reputation on the line. Most grocery stores have store brands, but they are a small part of their business. Mostly grocery stores sell branded goods from other companies. If you are disappointed with Campbell's soup, you buy a different brand. Campbell's suffers, but you don't hold the grocery store accountable. With a store brand, it's the store that's putting its reputation on the line - you don't even know the firm who made the product. That's what Trader Joe's does by selling almost all of their products under the Trader Joe's brand - it puts its reputation on the line. It's an interesting choice. To some extent, health care is moving in the Trader Joe's direction, and probably should move faster. Whereas branding used to be more focused at the individual provider level, branding is moving up to the organization level. Physicians are blending into a team, and the brand is moving up to the team level (practice, hospital), and away from the individual components - physician, hospital.

What: TED, Susan Colantuono, The Career Advice You Probably Didn't Get

Why: This is sort of an anti-branding message. Anti-branding in the sense that I've read a lot about personal brands and cultivating personal brands. The argument Colantuono puts forward is a bit of "stick to your knitting". This is a good message for men and women. Business, strategic, and financial acumen - "That's a given". Apparently conventional advice to women does not focus on that - instead personal branding. I find that odd, since I (hope I) would never give that advice. Personal branding matters at the margins - you have to be damn good at what you do. Everything else is fluff. 


 Health Leader Forge interview with Sean Tracey, Founder, CEO, and Creative Director of Sean Tracey Associates


Why: This interview was a bit outside my norm, but Sean introduced himself after he became aware of my interview with Sheila Woolley, the CNO at WDH. Sean had done work for WDH in the past, and so we talked and ultimately he agreed to be a guest on the podcast. This was a really interesting interview, getting an inside view into the world of a marketing firm that specializes in providing services to healthcare organizations. There were several takeaways from this interview that make it worth listening to. First, Sean is a really interesting guy - a modern renaissance man with interests in philosophy, music, art - and all of those things influence his business. Second, we get into the idea of branding (this week's theme) and some of the unique aspects of branding in high trust industries like healthcare and financial services. And third, we talk about the unique management structures of the marketing and advertising world - the "Hollywood Model" as Sean refers to it - where teams of freelancers come together on a project basis to produce most of the products. I think that is absolutely fascinating. 

Subscribe to have this delivered directly to your e-mail here: https://tinyletter.com/markbonica
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 .

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

RWL Newsletter #56 - not swimming with the sharks edition

Greetings from the University of New Hampshire! I spent the last two days on Cape Cod finishing up visiting our department's summer interns - the last two being in Yarmouth and Chatham. The above image is from an actual sign above the beach in Wellfleet. It's a beautiful beach. I didn't even put my toes in the water, though. Call me crazy, but swimming in a great white feeding ground doesn't pass the cost-benefit analysis. Sometimes the better part of valor is knowing when not to engage!

This week's links don't really have a theme - just some interesting things I came across that I thought you might find interesting. Enjoy!

 Thinking about leadership - a brief history of leadership thought from the Australian Public Service Commission


Why: I'm working with a colleague on a qualitative study on leadership and was looking for a quick definition for adapative leadership and came across this nice summary of a variety of leadership theories. This may be of interest to those of you who have a little bit of a nerdy interest in leadership theory. Worth a quick scan. Go ahead, I won't tell anyone you're a nerd.


Ben Sasse on the Space between Nebraska and Neverland (full), Conversations with Tyler (1hr 19 min)


Why: This is a long interview, but I really enjoyed it. There is an audio-only version available as well. I liked it so much, I bought Sasse's book, The Vanishing American Adult. I recommend it. If only we had more leaders who were as erudite as Sasse. 


Robots Help Patients Change Behaviors


Why: This podcast discusses the development of "socially assistive" robots for patient rehabilitation and training. These robots combine the physical and social - we are hard wired to respond to social cues. If we can get the cues right, it doesn't matter if we know it's a robot. I've been interested in evolutionary psychology for a while - particularly as it plays into economics - so that's how I listened to this podcast. It's fascinating how we can be manipulated - for good, in this case.

That's it for this week! Drop me a line and let me know what you think. I really like hearing back from you about the links you liked.

Thanks for reading and see you next week!
Also, if you find these links interesting, won’t you tell a friend? They can subscribe here: https://tinyletter.com/markbonica
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 .

Friday, August 4, 2017

RWL Newsletter #55 - vocation and calling

morning paddle

Greetings from the University of New Hampshire! What a beautiful day! I have been sooo busy lately that I have not been able to get out on the river in what seems like an eternity, but today I had an open schedule, so I got up early and headed out for a paddle by myself. It was close to low tide (the tide had just started coming in), and the birds on the river are always more active at low tide, I suppose because fish are closer to the surface. I saw many great blue heron and of course lots of cormerants. Also because it was low tide, there were no boaters out. At points the river is only eight or ten inches deep - plenty for a kayak, no where near enough for a motor boat. So I had the whole river to myself, which I love. Kayaking alone for me is physically, mentally, and spiritually renewing. If you haven't tried it, I recommend it.

As of this week, I concluded a 27 month study in which I was following a cohort of recent graduates from our program as they went out into the workforce and began their careers. I have been interviewing them periodically, and as of this past Tuesday, I did the final interview. It's been a fascinating study as they shared their stories of finding their way and integrating work into their lives. My research here at UNH is focused on how people are socialized into an organization and a career. From the stories I collected during this study, a colleague of mine and I are working on a paper about vocation and calling among young people. And that is the theme for this week's letter. How do you live an integrated, whole life? How do you live a life worth the short time you are allocated? We hear so much about "finding your passion", but that sounds so trite and self-indulgent. I think of it more as discovering work that integrates with who you are, and helps to bring out your best qualities. Finding your vocation isn't really about you. It is about how you can serve others. You will be of better service to others if you can find your vocation. 


The Art of Manliness, Finding Your Calling Part I: What Is a Vocation?


Why:  From the article: "A vocation is work you do for its own sake; you almost feel like you’d do it even if you didn’t get paid. The rewards of wages and prestige are peripheral to getting to use one’s passion in a satisfying way. Those in a vocation feel that their work has an effect on the greater good and an impact beyond themselves. They believe that their work truly utilizes their unique gifts and talents. This is what they were meant to do." The rest is worth reading.


 Parker J. Palmer - What is a Divided Life? (6 minutes)


Why: Parker Palmer is the author of  Let Your Life Speak , a book about discovering your calling. In this video he talks about the challenge of living a "divided life" - a life that we live for others, based on others' expectations, rather than being true to who we really are. The divided life becomes a source of pain - and we need to find a bridge between our integrity and the work we do in the world. 


What: The Moth, Listen Here Fancy Pants, with Anthony Giglio (14 minutes)


Why: If you're not familiar with The Moth, you've been missing out. So here's your chance to fix that shortcoming in your development. The Moth is a live story telling show where people come and tell a 15 minute, true story from their lives. This one by Anthony Giglio is about his relationship with his dad, and his dad's apparent disapproval of Anthony's development - including becoming a professional food and wine critic. It's a great story. One about being true to who you are, and finding the vocation that resonates with who you really are, so you can avoid living the divided life that Palmer talks about. 

This is my weekly newsletter - you can subscribe here: https://tinyletter.com/markbonica

Wednesday, July 12, 2017