Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Work Tour

Last weekend my boss sent me a late night email saying: "Interested in traveling to one of our hospitals on Tuesday? We're having a meeting between our supply chain executives and Walmart about the health care industry and I can't go. I think it'd be a good opportunity."

I don't much care for Walmart, mind you, but a chance to visit with executives is almost always a good thing. Besides, I've worked here for 10 months and haven't done any actual tours of facilities. After all, my job is to sit in a back room and think up great ideas that have no practical implication!

It was a really great experience. We got to tour the route that medical supplies, equipment, and drugs take from our central distribution center (where manufacturers deliver them and we warehouse them); to a hospital inventory location; and from there to a patient bed. One of the statistics that our company quotes in presentations is that "based on the current rate of growth, spending on technology, equipment, and supplies with overtake labor expenses in the next 15 years." In a SERVICE industry like health care, that's very unusual. Usually labor far exceeds equipment in service industries.

The tour and discussion really gave me a lot of pride in the health system that I work for. I'm still only now learning about all the different ways that we're really a market leader / innovator. Still, health care is behind the times compared to other industries, but we're pushing hard to catch up.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Weather Bonk

Speaking of my work trip (note that it's 1:35 AM and I have to leave the house at 6:00 AM tomorrow) - there might be freezing rain along my route tomorrow. How do I know, exactly? WeatherBonk!

Work Trip

I got an email from my boss at 2:26 AM Sunday morning saying "there's this meeting that our supply chain group is having with some friends from Walmart on Tuesday. I was invited but really can't go. I want you to go to represent our team. Let me know if that works for you."

Now, I don't much care for Walmart as a company. I know that they're a shrewd business, but I think they compromise levels of quality and service in place of profit where I don't think it's appropriate; but our company just appointed a new board member who happens to be a former senior executive from Walmart.

It makes sense for us to learn from them - particularly because they have one of the top 2 largest commercial data warehouses in the world! (First and second place keep flopping between Walmart and AT&T.) So, the more they can say about how important data warehousing is, the better for my department.

Despite my distaste for their business practices, the meeting should be fun.

Saturday, December 08, 2007


Manager of Business Intelligence Architecture

Lots of people ask me what I do for a living, and usually it's easiest to just say "I work in IT." Of course, most people immediately think that I'm a computer technician (which I don't feel qualified to claim despite my degrees in Computer Science and Electrical Engineering). So, I often used to add "I do software development," which is sort of true, but "software development" in an IT organization is a bit different than "software development" at Microsoft; and the kind of development I did was mostly about putting information in databases. Not something that most people can picture, because I wasn't building anything with a user interface. It's a little easier now that I'm a manager, because some people are willing to just stop at "manager" with assumptions about pointy-haired bosses; but when I have to start explaining what everyone on my team does, it gets even harder than it used to be because my current team has about 6 different roles.

For the unindoctrinated, here's the break-down of my title and an explanation of what that means I do (at least according to my current employer):

Manager of
...some who spends a lot of time in meetings, tries to organize and direct the work of other people but usually just makes things more complicated than they need to be, and should be required to have unexpected degrees in social work, psychology, political science, and anthropology.

...the art and science of making money doing something for someone that they're willing to pay for.

...a measure of aptitude or acumen. In the context of "business intelligence" how "smart" a company can be about delivering the right services or products to the right people in the most efficient way.

...the overall design or patterns or rules used in governing the construction of a thing.

Does that help?

Going Out

In the past couple of weeks, I've gotten to go out with my wife a few times -- something that we haven't done as much as we should have been doing since our first daughter was born. No surprise: I love dating my wife. My advice to newly-weds and new-parents: keep dating!

(But make sure it's only each other!)

Saturday, December 01, 2007

First Christmas Adventure

Last year, partly because we were going to be hosting Christmas guests, we decided to go out a cut down our own Christmas Tree at a farm. This is tradition for Sarahlynn's family, but something that I don't believe I've ever done. It was wonderful! Sarahlynn beautifully pregnant, Ellie tromping through the snow, we had Oliver tromping through the snow along with us (and we almost lost him). We got a great tree, there was hot chocolate and hot dogs, and Santa Claus!!

Well, this year we went back to the same Christmas Tree farm.... Having our fancy new car with navigation system, we decided to let it tell us how to get there. It started by sending us North off the highway instead of the correct way - South. Bad start. We got there out of our own memory instead of with the aid of hundreds of GPS satellites. Things went fine for a while. We found a good tree - though Ellie wanted be carried even though there wasn't any snow to slow her walking. She LOVED seeing Santa again, which was really great. Ada got to see Santa for her first time, too. She didn't do as well, but it also wasn't too bad.

The problem... I forgot to bring anything to tie the tree down with other than some cotton twine (not that strong). Being stubborn, I figured it'd be good enough and I could just make it work. Never mind that the place where they shake and bundle up your tree is right next to a huge barn with all kinds of twine and rope... or the fact that that if I asked, they probably would have given me some. Still, stubborn gender that I am, I decided that if I used enough cotton twine, that'd be good enough.

To keep the story short, let's just say that the 30 mile drive home took enough time that Ellie got to watch ALL of Finding Nemo. The tree didn't fly off between the tree farm and Walgreen's (which had a nice selection of thick nylon rope to make sure our tree didn't fly off the roof as we drove down the highway at 65 mph and smash trunk first into some unsuspecting driver's windshield, causing them to swerve off the road, a 6 car accident, and 3 deaths -- glad that didn't happen.)