Create Infographics & Stellar Prototypes for Free

If you are looking for a free, simple-to-use tool to help you visualize your data sets then check out Piktochart.
Ease-of-Use: Easy-Medium (there are free templates available and the interface is pretty easy to navigate for both infographics and slides)

If you are looking for a free, powerful prototyping tool for web and mobile applications that doesn’t require coding then check out
Ease-of-Use: Medium-Difficult (there are a lot of features and it does take time to learn them all) 


Be Bold and Reorganize Differently

Whether you are reading the summary of Deloitte’s Global Human Capital Trends report that emphasizes the advantages of the Team of Teams concept or you are reading Jeff Bezo’s latest annual shareholder letter that highlights the need for Amazon to retain its high-velocity decision making, one thing is clear, companies must rethink their existing organizational strategy.

Most businesses are not built on the successes of their business functions (e.g., marketing, IS, purchasing, legal, HR, etc…), but they are built on their successful implementation and execution of unique business processes. So why do so many companies today still organize by function? It’s the business processes (and in some cases the technology) that are likely setting you apart from other companies and providing a competitive advantage!

Embracing Shadow IT

Business decision makers will always want IT services faster and cheaper. Cloud services are becoming more attractive because of the cost accounting shift from CAPEX to OPEX (e.g., predictable spend with less governance) and the transfer of delivery risk to another organization (e.g., internal IT teams struggle to keep pace with the business by adopting methodologies like Lean IT, Agile, and DevOps to accelerate their development, change management, testing, and deployment processes).  2nd Watch found that 61 percent of business units bypass the IT function completely, and according to IDC’s quarterly cloud IT infrastructure tracker, by 2021 off-premise cloud deployments will surpass traditional datacenter deployments for the first time. With this continued adoption of cloud deployment models and offerings, we are seeing more business executives making technology decisions without engaging the IT organizational function. Since business leaders can’t afford to wait to meet their business goals and objectives, IT must find a way to embrace shadow IT going forward, even while improving their own processes, if they are going to remain relevant.

Maybe IT functions should start by acknowledging some of these facts and then look at creating a governance framework that seeks to educate business unit leaders, and provide them with a set of best practices to minimize the risk associated with these types of decisions and allow for some form of standardization.

A set of best practices could include the following:

  • a standard set of contract templates to include MSA, SOW, and SLA templates
  • an IT risk assessment questionnaire for potential vendors to populate
  • an updated IT intake process that seeks to prioritize and align IT resources that may be needed for integration efforts (often overlooked by non-IT leaders)
  • a vendor performance management scorecard outlining points to monitor throughout the ongoing relationship
  • a cloud reference architecture outlining integration methods/protocols, connectivity, access requests, etc…

Increase Your Productivity (Inbox Management)

During a recent Individual Development Plan (IDP) review session with a leader, we were discussing methods or frameworks to increase productivity and ensure quality. This conversation then led to a specific question of how do I manage my email inbox? I never thought much about this because my process seems to work pretty well, but it did spark my interest. So after sharing my method with this teammate, I did some quick research and came across a New York Times bestselling author, David Allen, and his book Getting Things Done. After studying his quick infographic below, I realized the method of managing my email inbox mirrored his workflow with one exception.

It starts with one simple question, does this email require action (yes/no)?

If yes, then you either:
(a) defer it for later using a calendar entry or task reminder
(b) delegate it to someone else and possibly set a personal follow-up reminder
(c) do it immediately if the effort is less than a couple of minutes. This may also include   following up with the sender for more information that may be required to take                   action. Note: this can have added benefits in terms of acknowledging the senders’               needs, demonstrating a sense of responsiveness, and potentially helping others by             seeking clarity for the group.

If no, then either:
(a) delete it, if there is no current or future value
(b) do nothing, keeping it for future reference. I don’t personally spend the extra time filing/sorting/organizing emails into folders these days because of how well the search features work. Note: you need to check your company retention policy to ensure your alignment.

If you are looking for something *new* to try, give it a shot!


Usability Guidelines, Templates, and Methods

User experience (UX) best practices is something we should also be more familiar with. There is a division within the Department of H.H.S. that serves as a good reference point and provides some helpful material and thoughts on this very topic. Check out

The Future of Medicine

If you have time this holiday season, you may want to read The Patient Will See You Now by Eric Topol. In the event you have little downtime or are just interested in some quick highlights, please check out some of the key findings from my reading.

  • The flow of data and information was restricted to certain people prior to the advent of the printing press. The printing press made books, articles, and other printed materials available to all people, increased literacy, and impacted all areas of life. The smartphone is having a similar impact in today’s world. The flow of medical information will no longer have to go to your doctor first, but your smartphone will collect all your data and connect it back to the cloud.
  • The power in health care will (and has to) shift from the seller to the buyers – this movement will require a number of changes (e.g., data ownership, regulations, incentive models, etc…), including a deep rooted cultural shift in how medicine is practiced today (moving from a traditional and paternalistic approach to a collaborative partnership). The current day American Medical Association’s Code of Medical Ethics still supports a paternalistic approach to medicine.
  • Using a business world analogy of what the new health care operating model may look like in the future, the patient would become the COO (no longer an individual contributor) and responsible for monitoring his/her body. The COO would also oversee the IT department, seeking to leverage technology assets to obtain, store, and analyze data. With relative ease (e.g., on-demand), the COO would provide updates and reports to the CEO. The CEO would be readily available, likely virtually/remote, to consult and offer guidance to the COO as-needed using his/her experience, knowledge, and wisdom. Any time an investment was warranted or a strategic direction needed, this would result in a shared-decision among the COO and CEO.
  •  In the future, patients will have access to their data, medicine will be available on-demand, smartphones will be used for labs and imaging, pricing information will be available beforehand, doctors will be rated on the care they provide, and artificial intelligence will be used to a greater degree to diagnose conditions.

Other random and interesting notes:

  • Smartphone innovation relative to health care is already occuring at faster paces in developing worlds because their lack of regulation and reimbursement incentives.
  • The earliest noted physician was Imhotep in 2600 BC.
  • The author Arnon Grunberg of The Qualified Writer: Monitoring the Physiology of the Creative Process, used brain sensors and cameras to record his emotions while writing the book, in order to compare them later with emotions felt by his readers.
  • 23andMe was one of the first direct-to-consumer genomics companies, offering different reports for a cost. However, your data could be used against your best interests (e.g., insurance).
  • Google Flu Trends (GFT) was one of the first attempts to predict health information based on a population in 2008.
  • The cost of phones is projected to dip below $50 in the next couple of years.
  • Free Wi-Fi is emerging in rural areas around the world. Government sponsored aid like Lifeline is now available to promote the adoption and use of smartphones.
  • With the adoption of EMRs, physicians are spending 43% of their time entering data into a computer and only 28% talking to their patients.
  • Kaiser Permanente refers to their patients as members.
  • The OpenNotes project started in 2012 and included Beth Israel Deaconess’s participation in providing patients with their office visit notes. The project found that patients increased their understanding and engagement as a result of reading their notes. About 65% of patients improved their medication adherence.
  • Smartphone applications from Mango Health, CyberDoctor, AiCure, Nightingale, MediMinder, MideSafe, and Care4Today are seeking to improve medication adherence.
  • Gamification is underused in health care and could be a great incentive for many patients to take more control of their health (not in the book, but a personal conclusion).
  • Proteus received initial FDA approval in 2012 for a digestible microchip that can be placed in pills.
  • No significant efforts have been made to find the genomic or biomarker for predicting responsiveness in medications for patients (100 of the 6K available prescriptions has this information available).
  • PillPack was conceived from a hackathon and produces prepackaged medication designed to increase adherence by providing printed schedules on the packages.
  • Medical imaging is commonly abused (over prescribed/ordered) within health care today and the risks to patients aren’t highlighted (e.g., 3% to 5% of individuals getting scans will get cancer because of the cumulative exposure to radiation). MRI and ultrasounds are generally more safe alternatives.
  • More than 30 states in the US are considering or pursuing legislation to increase price transparency.
  • There is 1 licensed doctor to every 370 people in the US. The average US wait time for a primary care visit is 2.5 weeks (about 2 days in Dallas). Virtual consultations (televisits) are growing and there are currently a number of companies/apps with this service available today from LiveHealthOnline, MD Live, American Well, Ringadoc, Teladoc, InteractiveMD, and First Opinion (prices start at $38/video chat).
  • Hippocrates is considered the father of medicine.
  • Tom Daschle (former Senator) started a group known as the Alliance for Connected Care to address federal telemedicine law.
  • Half of the physicians in the US are over the age of 55.
  • Why are doctors still using stethoscopes? they don’t store or analyze data and are somewhat subjective to the user.
  • Coursera and Udacity were the first to dominate the online course world.
  • PatientsLikeMe is the largest online health community.
  • The Open Access Button initiative was designed to locate free versions of research information.
  • DuckDuckGo is a smaller search engine that doesn’t store user information.
  • Angry Birds and the Brightest Flashlight apps gave companies the ability to track a lot of user data.
  • 43% of identity thefts in the US are medical-related.
  • Drawbridge can provide insights into what devices an individual user is accessing, etc.
  • In the 1960’s, 88% of physicians had a policy to not share cancer diagnosis with their patients.
  • In the 17th century, many coffeehouses were dedicated to specific subjects of interest (e.g., science, health, literature, etc…).
  • 95% of the world’s population is covered with a mobile signal.
  • In general, U.S. doctors don’t like smart patients.
  • The patient is the single most unused asset in health care.
  • The average person is projected to have more than 5 connected devices by 2020; current average is ~3.5 connected devices per person.
  • When considering how much personal data is worth to the public or businesses, look at the valuation of Amazon, Facebook, and Twitter, or the increasing number of successful security/data breaches.
  • Less than 5% of data is analyzed today.
  • The medical community has taken on average seventeen years from innovation to adoption.
  • Power of One

Free Real Online Classes from Reputable Universities…

Check this source out. I will try this soon and report back my experiences.

%d bloggers like this: