Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Experts Predict Economic Expansion for 2015 and 2016

Experts predict a few more strong laps around this race track we call our economy. Fifty forecasting experts with the National Association of Business Economics (NABE) believe the U.S. economy will grow at a rapid pace over the next two years. They suspect Gross Domestic Product (GDP) will increase on average 3.1% in 2015 and 2.9% in 2016.  
Few can complain about the potential win-win situation brewing that will reward businesses with higher sales and better employment opportunities for job seekers. Experts believe the economy will improve to a point where unemployment dips under 5% by the end of 2016.
The advantages of polling experts can help gauge the overall likelihood of success for the nation. These economic gurus have become successful in their fields and have opinions on economic growth and development. Funneling their opinions into useful metrics helps see that the average opinion is positive.
Each expert sifts the questionnaire information through their personal experiences, judgments and opinions to come to a conclusion about each question. These conclusions are averaged to get the statistics seen above. The more people involved in the forecast the greater the validity of the results.
Positive news and accurate information often draws investment from interested stakeholders that desire to improve their profit margins.  For example, if you own a business that is likely to benefit from a growing economy and are holding onto cash the positive news may prompt additional investment. This can in turn generate more employment; 250,000 per month worth.
Growing economies, lower unemployment, higher investment, and sustainable spending are positive news for any government that seeks to place in the finals of racing nations.  That doesn’t mean any of this will come to pass but that industry experts believe it is possible and perhaps even likely. If you are a business investor or a person seeking to gain from employment opportunities these numbers should be refreshing.

Poem and Painting: Solitude at the Beach- Work and Life Balance

Dr. Murad Abel
The sands of summer,
subtle breeze of daylight hours. 

Whips of grass,
rustling in sway.

Salty sea of ocean blue,
A place to sit for a while.

On the shoreline grass,
Where noise is a soft hum.

The waves never stop rolling,
Always keeping the line of land and sea.

A few minutes of walking,
Life's problems step away.

A few hours a week,
Your focus will be at its peak.

The poem discusses the idea that each person needs to find balance in their lives, work life, and goals. At times that balance comes from spending time alone while other times it could be spending time with family or engaging in fitness activities. Each person should discover that which keeps them motivated about life.

Work is a process that is aesthetically pleasing for a great many high performance players. Yet life isn't only about work. It includes other things such as family, friends, goals, and hobbies. Professionals should round out their interests in life to include both work but also non-work activities.

In my experience I have met individuals whose only goal is to progress at work with little regard for the other needs in their life. They may eventually achieve their goal but must give up other things that also have importance. Too narrow of a focus takes away from the flavor of life and leads to burn out.

Find activities and hobbies that help you balance and round out your life. For example, if you like cars but never had a chance to put your effort into one go and find a classic junker to fix up on the few hours you own every weekend. Maybe you want to coach baseball, engage in art, or find something else of interest. The choice is yours!

Monday, March 30, 2015

Solar Powered San Diego Encourages Ecological Advancement

San Diego is well on its way to becoming a city destined for environmental salvation. According to the non-profit Environment California Research & Policy Center San Diego Ranks second in the nation in terms of solar power usage. We are doing well in protecting our environment and ensuring a sustainable future. That doesn't mean we can't do more.

Creating streamlined processes for solar power installation approval as well as encouraging higher levels of solar power reliance is beneficial for setting the framework for sustainable cities. If there are any unnecessary restrictions on installing solar panels it will raise the overall customer costs and slow the pace of solar integration.

There are advantages to developing solar panels that include less reliance on outside sources of energy, lowering long-term costs, and reducing environmental costs. As more renewable sources are developed the city will lower its overall carbon footprint and slow its contribution to environmental problems.

Finding the right policies, awareness processes, and incentives helps to ensure people make a equitable choice to use renewable sources. With solar panels there is often a higher initial investment but much lower costs spread out over the duration of the panels. Making sure people understand where they can get panels and their true costs can tip the scales in consumer choice.

Solar panels and ecologically designed cities are the way of the future. Those cities in the process of transformation and building new infrastructure should consider the benefits of developing ecologically sound practices. San Diego is in a strong position to foster ecological hubs that spur new industries in environmental and blue economic development. 


Why Industry Experts Won't Turn Their Back on Online Education?

Professionals wont turn their back on online doctorates because it provides them one of the only feasible ways to obtain a terminal degree. People with decades of experience don’t often go back to get a doctorate because of the years of time and investment that would pull them away from their business duties. Online doctoral education can marry professional experience and theory in ways that would be difficult for traditional schools to fulfill.
Online doctoral education has four purposes (Radda & Mandernach, 2013).:
1.      Prepare the doctoral community to develop knowledge and skills for the 21st century.
2.      Capture the collective intelligences and knowledge of individuals.
3.      Deepen scholarship and practical application of that scholarship.
4.      To further the interests of scholar-practitioners.

Online education has come a long way over the past 20 years and research has shown that the modality is growing in terms of benefits and effectiveness. One of the reasons why traditional colleges are adopting the model is because of cost and reach. With online education they can draw in additional learners that would previously been unable to go back to school.

We should think about all the experience out there hidden in the boardrooms and office. Many of these people would offer valuable knowledge to both academic and fellow industry stakeholders. Getting them into a doctoral program not only helps to grow their businesses but also ensure that their knowledge can be applied by others.

One of the main purposes of higher education is to grow and expand knowledge in a way that furthers the interest of societal stakeholders. Sometimes theory is developed that is difficult to implement for practical use in business. People with knowledge from industry have a better shot at developing theory that has immediate application to industry stakeholders that furthers economic growth.

Developing useful theory has a wider benefit to the business community and society. As better theory is produced and more quickly implemented into business practices the economic fundamentals of society strengthen leading to higher levels of adaptation and development. Seasoned business executives won’t turn their back on online education because they understand that quality of learning and usefulness of solutions are more important than the name of the school.

Radda, H. & Mandernach, B. (2013). Doctoral education online: challenging the paradigm. Journal of Education Technology, 9 (3).

Saturday, March 28, 2015

The Importance of Listening to Veteran Needs- Using Feedback Loops

The San Diego VA is listening to veteran frustrations about services and the ease by which they can navigate the medical system. The initiative is part of broader effort to understand how to better service veterans and improve the effectiveness of VA hospitals. Throughout the month of August and September the VA is conducting town hall meetings throughout the country. This is the VA's opportunity to consider both physical and virtual feedback loops in future policy development.

As part of our Road to Veterans Day, VA is taking a hard look at everything we do in order to reorganize the Department around the needs of Veterans. Direct feedback from Veterans, employees and stakeholders is an important component of that Roadmap, and key to improving our services and operations,” states VA Secretary McDonald (Veterans Administration,2015).

Organizations use virtual feedback loops to understand how top level policies impact users on the bottom level. Sometimes feedback comment boxes are successful in collecting relevant information while at other times they pigeon hole the information into inaccurate data. Ensuring that online feedback loops are effective and offer alternative methods of presenting information is important. 

Having occasional face-to-face meetings offer opportunities for people to air their grievances to a real person they can hold accountable. It is important for those officials to provide their contact information. They will need to be empowered to make changes when consistent themes are discovered that could potentially improve the hospitals. 

The VA has been plagued by problems for a long time leaving a large swath of veterans unable to get the services they need. There is some indication that a number veterans have lost their lives trying to navigate the system. VA administrators allegedly hid the inefficient and ineffective methods from stakeholders and superiors thereby allowing dysfunction to grow. 

The face-to-face town hall meetings should only be a launch to more accountability.  Adaptive organizations develop adequate feedback loops that are able to make meaningful use of information while not inadvertently masking that information because of poor survey design. Leaving an open comment section in surveys and using a human evaluator in addition to automatic systems helps to ensure that open comments are collected and synthesized properly. 

All collected information can be reviewed on a regular basis and consistently applied to policy development and departmental approval. Incremental changes will help keep the organization responsive to its mission and to the people it serves. The process of growth and development relies on the ability to develop a semi-open system that incorporates, collects, and implements useful information and suggestions. There is nothing stopping the effective management and creation of adaptable government systems other than the people in it.