March 22, 2019
Technocrat Meets MBA - With NLP Thrown In
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Technocrat Meets MBA - BACKGROUND: I started my electronics technology life in the Navy as an aviation electronics technician and CICS crew trainer. Then thru work and
I started in an MS Computer Science program and after less than one quarter, was board. I went to the counselor and she recommended that I move to the MBA program since I was in Management by then. All I could think about was taking classes that I didn’t have much interest in - but I changed anyway.
BUSINESS APPROACH: Prior to starting my MBA, I had always presented projects for their technical merits. The technical advantages outweighed everything else. While many of these projects succeeded, some had the rug pulled out from underneath them by senior and executive management.
While in the MBA program, I started presenting projects that had advantages to the company. If the technology didn’t have a business advantage and I could not find one, I didn’t pursue it. Surprisingly, 95% of the projects were completed. I even created a new way of doing software development to speed up the project and bring them in on budget and on time. Kaiser ended up having me do in-house
OTHER EDUCATION: While working for a government research facility in the 1970s, I attended Sensitivity Training classes and courses on group dynamics. Early at Kaiser, I attended and was certified in NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming). These and other human communications learnings have significantly improved my life and ability when tech talk or MBA speak isn’t working.
EXAMPLE 1: I was called in to work on a Preterm Birth Prevention project with Dr. Dyson in Santa Clara. The project was using newly created computer hardware and software, and new technology created by outside companies.
Some facts about Preterm Birth are that out of the 36,000 births in Kaiser Northern California in a year, between 11-12%
One of the companies we worked with was Corometrics (now owned by GE Healthcare) who made the contraction monitor. They asked
The Chairman of the Board asked if I could talk to the Sales and Marketing staff who were in for a quarterly meeting. While I had not prepared for this, I said yes. My
After that talk, Pat, my contact person, asked if I could give one more talk to the engineering staff working on the project. I walked into a room of all men and started by asking them to be silent for 60 seconds and
From there I took the engineering staff on a journey of how a pregnant woman feels while having contractions and how technology might impact that. I asked a key question: How many pregnant women have the engineering staff talked to - directly - about this technology. You might have the best transducers and the most accurate and sensitive electronics, but if a pregnant woman is even more uncomfortable, you have lost. This was 80% human talk mixed in with 20% tech talk.
Pat took me off to the side before dinner and
PS: The project yielded preterm birth numbers in the low 7% range - you do the math.
EXAMPLE 2: A group of Business Analysts had been working with the Kaiser Genetics department to see if automation could be of benefit. The Genetics department had been using card files for decades to match patients with syndromes. With newly emerging DNA testing, the thought was that, if they could computerize all of the data on the cards, they could improve treatment and outcome. The business model was primarily focused on the doctors for this project.
I had just created and written a paper on a new software development process called
We started the project by having a database expert create a test database with all of the known data items and fake data. Some of the developers were replaced because they didn’t want people seeing their unfinished code. After one week, we had the first set of screens done and started showing them to the staff. Immediately the doctors said it looked good, but the rest of the staff said it didn’t. We found out that, in reality, five different groups within Genetics would be using this system, and they had very different views about the type of data and how it should be viewed. We quickly went back, added to the database and split the development group into five sub-groups. Another week later we presented again, and we had a much better discussion.
Since we already had the home screens for each of the 5 areas plus the sample database, I had the staff add a light bulb graphic in the upper right corner of every screen. A user could click on this and up would pop a dialog box asking for their comments. The dialog box was targeted to the developer working on that screen, so they saw it right away. I then went back to the doctors and said that it was time for the staff to start looking at screens for at least 10 minutes every
Our next meeting was a teleconference, and I had all the staff in the room with computers. I asked each of the 5 groups for their feedback, and while people made comments, developers were making changes to
This project got completed way under budget and time, and all of the users were very
A TRICK OR EXPERIENCE: I like to think it is
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