My Book on Continuous Improvement (CI) Methods and Leadership Strategies Will Be Available in Late February

I have not had much of an opportunity over the last couple of years to post messages on this blog. Instead, I have devoted most of my time to completing work-related projects and in writing my second book. I have now finished crafting the book, which is targeted to front-line administrators in healthcare organizations (and to some extent, all first-level managers). The text, 'Continuous Improvement Strategies: How to Manage, Motivate, and Retain Staff,' will be published by CRC Press (Taylor and Francis Group) in late February.

 Continuous Improvement Strategies: How to Manage, Motivate, and Retain Staff


Why All People Should Strive to Become Good Writers

Most people would probably agree that there is a strong correlation between someone’s composition skills and his or her ability to communicate ideas (at least on paper) to others. However, some writing averse souls might ask, “Why should I care about developing these capabilities if I work in a field, which does not require me to craft lengthy communiques or other documents?” In answer to this question, I believe that all individuals should attempt to become proficient writers because, by doing so, they might also be able to develop business-savvy traits related to the identification of key elements in a process, the ability to see the big picture, and the mastery of root cause analysis concepts. As such, even workers who rarely draft memos, much less essays or business plans, should take the time to learn the ins and outs of good composition.
Learning to “Separate the Wheat from the Chaff”
Good writers are usually adept at, to borrow an old cliche, “separating the wheat from the chaff.” They are able to identify and use relevant supporting information. Likewise, they can readily ascertain and remove data that is not germane to the topic. As it turns out, a person who wants to run an efficient enterprise needs to possess these same traits. After all, one must have a knack for zeroing in on the most productive elements of a process or product (and eliminating "waste") if he or she wants to get the most out of it. Therefore, individuals might be able to enhance their efficiency-related skills by working to improve their writing skills. I believe that these men and women sometimes can also use this training to help them strengthen their abilities to grasp big picture concepts.
Writing Skills and Big Picture Thinking
Usually, people who want to move up the corporate ladder need to be able to recognize and understand the meta-trends and meta-narratives, which are pertinent to their particular line of work. While the ability to ‘see the big picture’ is to some extent innate (eg. related to one’s I.Q.), some studies show that an individual can improve his or her abilities in this area by mastering writing-related concepts. To wit, if one is going to create a viable narrative, he or she needs to be able to craft a strong thesis and ensure that all of the components in the paper logically refer back to this main argument. In order to pull this feat off, the person will need to be able to think strategically—to be cognizant of how each piece fits within a larger pattern. In this way, someone who works to master the P’s and Q’s of good composition might, as a byproduct, also tend to see an improvement in his or her meta-analytical skills.
The Flip Side of the Coin – Root Cause Analysis
People who spend time developing their writing skills might also enhance their abilities to ascertain the root cause(s) of a phenomenon. In my experience, individuals who are adept at crafting strong essays are also good at zeroing in on a narrative’s underlying argument or idea. Translating this skill to the business world, they are able to identify a corporate infrastructure’s key weaknesses or ascertain the primary causes of a problem. Most readers would probably agree that companies covet men and women who possess this skill.
Summing Things Up

In short, I believe that all people, even ones who rarely have to create any type of document, might derive benefits from learning how to write well. That is because individuals who seek to master grammatical techniques can sometimes, as a byproduct of this process, strengthen their abilities to pinpoint the important elements in a process, improve their meta-analytical skills, and enhance their capabilities to identify the root cause(s) of a problem or issue. In this way, men and women who work hard to master composition-related concepts will not only become better communicators, they will also develop other important skills, which will likely improve their chances of moving up the corporate ladder.
#writing #learning #skills #business #education 
-- Anthony Matthew Hopper
Note: I originally published this post on LinkedIn. All citations are embedded as links within the text. 
Photo: The photograph is mine (taken on 12/20/2015)


Rosie the Riveter on the $10 Bill: Adding to the Discussion

In January, the U.S. Mint announced that it would “feature a notable woman” on a newly designed $10 bill (set for release in 2020).  As a part of the vetting process, Jacob Lew, the U.S. treasury secretary, has asked the public to chime in with suggested candidates for this honor.  In an Asbury Park Press article, Gerald Thomas argues that the U.S. Mint should place an image of Rosie the Riveter on the $10 bill.

Thomas makes a number of good points in advocating that the U.S. Mint replace Alexander Hamilton with this World War II era image.  He is spot on when he states that Rosie the Riveter, “demonstrates the perseverance, fortitude and strength of the nation, exemplifying the wartime contributions of women coast to coast.”  He also makes a valid point when notes that the picture speaks not only to the accomplishments of women, but to the perseverance of Americans in general (military veterans and others) during times of war and strife.

Thomas does an excellent job in advocating for Rosie’s inclusion on the $10 bill; however, I think that an individual, by delineating a few other key points, can strengthen the case for her inclusion on the currency note. With that in mind, here are my thoughts on the matter:

  • The Person Who Portrayed Rosie the Riveter is Deceased: The U.S. Mint will not place a living person on a currency bill.  Mary Keefe, the model who portrayed Rosie the Riveter on the government billboards and posters, passed away in April of this year (2015).  Hence, the government could place Rosie on its $10 bill.
  • Excellent Way to Transmit Values/Ideals: I would imagine that almost every American will use these new $10 bills and thus view the portrait, located on this note.  Most of these people will see the image numerous times.  As a result, the federal government has an opportunity to use the currency to convey important values and beliefs regarding women.  I think that it can more clearly and effectively transmit these messages by using the image of Rosie the Riveter than it could via utilizing the portrait of a notable American woman.  In the former case, a viewer, even one who does not know anything about American history, will clearly understand that Rosie the Riveter is a symbol of empowerment for working class women (and indeed all women).  The image conveys this message through her rolled up sleeves, her flexed biceps, the serious face, the work shirt, etc.  I do not think that a portrait of Susan B. Anthony, Eleanor Roosevelt, Rosa Parks, or any other woman would convey such clear, symbolic messages. 
  • Add a Little Flair: I also think that the government could add a little flair to its overly staid paper currency by opting for Rosie the Riveter over a formal portrait.  Perhaps the U.S. government could follow in the footsteps of Canada (and other countries) and even add a little color to the bill.

#TheNew10 #money #politics #womensrights #history


Top 10 Most Memorable Seasons by MLB Teams En Route to the Playoffs (Written in 2012)

Abstract: Major League Baseball has a rich and storied history. Here are the top 10 most memorable regular season performances by baseball clubs en route to the playoffs.

Major League Baseball can point to its rich and storied history, which dates to before the first World Series in 1903. Over the years, a number of baseball clubs have gained fame for their memorable regular-season performances en route to the playoffs. Some of these teams made history because they overcame long odds to reach the postseason. Other squads are remembered because they dominated the competition on their way to the playoffs.

Here are the top 10 most memorable regular-season performances by baseball clubs en route to playoff appearances:

1. New York Yankees, 1998: The Yankees set an American League record by winning 114 games in the regular season. Yankees fans had much to be proud of that year, as their team would go on to win the World Series.

2. Tampa Bay Rays, 2011: The Rays were nine games behind the American League wild-card leader--the Boston Red Sox--as late as September and looked to be out of the postseason hunt. Instead, the Rays became the first club in Major League Baseball's history to overcome a nine-game deficit in September to reach the playoffs. The Rays clinched the wild-card berth on the final day of the season. The team did it in grand fashion by coming back from seven runs down to beat the New York Yankees 8-7 in extra innings.

3. Chicago Cubs, 1906: The Cubs finished the 1906 regular season with 116 wins and 36 losses. No major league team since that time has topped the Cubs' .763 winning percentage. Unfortunately, the Cubs could not parlay that tremendous regular season record into postseason success. The club lost the World Series to its crosstown rival, the Chicago White Sox.

4. St. Louis Cardinals, 2011: Most people who took a look at the major league standings on Aug. 25, 2011, probably thought that the Cardinals' season was over. At that time, the team was 10.5 games behind the Atlanta Braves for the National League's wild-card spot. Amazingly, the Cardinals would go on to win 23 of their last 31 games and secure a ticket to the playoffs (and eventually win the World Series).

5. Seattle Mariners, 2001: The Oakland Athletics capped off a superb year in 2001 by winning 102 games. However, the team finished an amazing 14 games behind the first-place Seattle Mariners. The Mariners set an American League record by winning 116 games.

6. Boston Braves, 1914: The Braves had finished 31.5 games behind the league winner in 1913. The team seemed to be heading for a similar fate in mid-July 1914. The club was ranked dead last in the National League. The Braves would go on an amazing run during the latter part of the season to win both the league pennant and the World Series.

7. Colorado Rockies, 1995: The club played its first major league game in 1993. The Rockies made it to the playoffs in the 1995 season. No other expansion club up to that point had reached the playoffs in such a short time span.

8. Arizona Diamondbacks, 1999: Under manager Buck Showalter, the Diamondbacks made history by reaching the playoffs in only the club's second year in existence.

9. New York Mets, 1969: In previous seasons, the Mets had been the epitome of a bad team. Few people expected the club to do anything of note in 1969. The Mets surprised everyone by winning 100 games and making the playoffs for the first time in franchise history. The squad was not done. It went on to win the World Series in that year.

10. Montreal Expos, 1981: Fans of the Expos were ecstatic when the team made its first and only appearance in the playoffs in 1981. Perhaps the club, now called the Washington Nationals, will secure its second postseason berth ever in 2012.


Major League Baseball's official website
Baseball Reference

The author has been following Major League Baseball since he was a child and is a fan of the Atlanta Braves.

-- Anthony Hopper

#baseball #MLB #history #sports #sportshistory #baseballhistory #Braves #Mets #Expos #Mariners #playoffs #Cardinals #Cubs #Rays #Yankees