Tag Archives: AIM Program

The Power of Resiliency

A lone tree grows in a rugged terrain.I have been thinking for quite some time about resiliency. As I have mentioned in previous blog posts, I work with young people as a volunteer teaching them leadership skills, outdoor skills, and general life skills. I have noticed that some are resilient and readily bounce back from adversity, either from a one-time event or chronic problems, while others are down for the count at the first sign of trouble. Last week I read an article in the New Yorker that helped me pull together my thinking and I want to share these thoughts with you while they are still fresh in my mind.

Learned or Natural?

Have you ever known people who seem to overcome any stress? Are they good at covering up their stress or are they more resilient than the rest of us? Do they have a natural ability to overcome problems, or is it something they have developed? What I learned is that while you cannot necessarily change a tragedy or stressor, you do have control over how you react to it. You can let it get you down, sometimes for an extended period, or you can choose to process and learn from it and move on in a constructive manner.

A few years ago a friend and colleague, a former Army Ranger, asked me how my day was going. I rattled off a litany of complaints such as people not coming through on commitments and projects falling behind. He replied, “You know, for me, any day that I don’t get shot at is a great day.” That comment helped me put my minor adversities into perspective and to this day I remember it when I think things are getting tough. Today is a great day.

Going the Distance

I have met people who avoid hard things in life, the things that might cause resistance or discomfort. These are not unforeseen events but the extra challenges that will help them to grow and improve their future. They avoid them because they are hard. As President Kennedy said in his famous 1962 moonshot speech, “We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard….” To me, that is an example of resilience, when you are willing to tackle the hard things, not for an immediate reward but to expand future opportunities.

As I get to know AIM students I learn about their stories, their backgrounds, and their histories. Many of them have overcome adversity and challenges to get where they are. The majority of AIM students work full time and often have young families that need their attention. They have all chosen to take on the extra work of graduate education and prioritize their time and lives to gain new knowledge and skills. I am impressed with such resiliency to take on a significant challenge and I am honored to guide them in a small part of that journey.


Look around and identify the people who appear the most resilient, those who seem to be in full control of their destiny. Ask them what it is that helps them to weather any storm and emerge even stronger. They can most likely help you to cultivate those same skills. Today is a great day.

Author Kelly BrownAbout Kelly Brown

Kelly Brown is an IT professional and assistant professor of practice for the UO Applied Information Management Master’s Degree Program. He writes about IT and business topics that keep him up at night.

The Information Umbrella’s Best Blogs of 2014

Happy New Year from the AIM faculty and staff!

Our blog writers’ curiosity took some surprising turns in 2014, which sparked us to ask what resonated with you readers. Below is our list of most popular blogs of the year, with a special challenge to astrologers to make sense of the odd coincidence involving publication dates.

Hand holds the world#5 Our Shrinking World

AIM blogger Kelly Brown ponders the question “With everything we have in place, are we really tapping the potential of a shrinking world or still limiting ourselves to the familiar surroundings and friends to supply us with answers and advice?” From April 15, 2014.

#4 So We Had a Parade

Guest blogger Tim Williams, a 2000 AIM graduate, an adjunct instructor for the AIM Program, and COO of Sesame Communications, shares his thoughts on his experience in organizational culture and team building. From July 15, 2014.

digital vortex#3 The Dark Side of the Deep Web

Kelly Brown’s curiosity takes him deep into the layers of the Web. Think onions and murky depths. From April 8, 2014.

overstuffed garage#2 A Terabyte of Storage Space: How Much is Too Much?

How much storage is enough? Kelly Brown calculates just what will fit into 1,000 gigabytes. From July 8, 2014.


child using computer#1 Too Many Coders?

Are there too many coders to meet the needs of the future? Not enough? That question resonated with more Information Umbrella readers than any other in 2014, rocketing this blog post to top spot for the year. From February 18, 2014.


What do you want to read about in 2015? Send us a message with your ideas.

Don’t miss The Information Umbrella next week when Kelly Brown scores a touchdown with a timely topic!

The Ideal AIM Candidate

Cheerful interviewer shaking hand of an applicant in her officeAIM Applications

We are starting to see applications to the Applied Information Management (AIM) Master of Science Degree Program for Winter 2014. In reviewing them, it got me to thinking about what it is that I really look for in an AIM applicant and who will hopefully become a successful AIM student and graduate.


At the heart of it all, I am looking for a clear record of an applicant’s professional and academic history. There is no need to add extraneous or superfluous honors and activities if they do not support your core message. Less is more. If you can explain your history in a shorter format but still convey your message, fantastic; if you can find a fresh format, even better.


There is not a lot you can do about your transcripts at this point; they are what they are. BUT, if you did go through a period of distraction and failed grades during your undergraduate experience, please find a way to explain the situation. If you don’t offer any detail about that time period, then I will assume that you are OK with your record, but usually I am not. It could be a prediction of things to come.


Tell me about yourself and some of the choices and influences that brought you to where you are today. Tell me about some of the experiences that shaped your life. Sell me on your life story and why you are a good candidate for the AIM Program.

Statement of Purpose

Elaborate on your autobiography and tell me what it is you are looking for in life and how you expect the AIM Program to further your progress toward that goal. How can the AIM Program help you grow and develop to achieve your vision? Conversely, how can you help the AIM Program and the other students that you will be working with? What experiences do you bring to the program that will further the understanding of your fellow students and help enhance their experience? Finally, tell me about your experiences with distributed learning and distributed teams. If you do not have experience in these areas, tell me about your plan to succeed as a student in a distributed online learning environment.


Choose people that can speak to your skills and your potential to succeed in the AIM online graduate program. Choose people who may already be thinking about your next role, post graduation. Mentors are great because they know your strengths and weakness and hopefully realize your potential to succeed in the AIM Program as well as your potential to succeed and grow with your organization.


In short, we are looking for intelligent, hard-working individuals who have had some life successes already and who show promise for even greater success with help from the AIM Program. We are looking for individuals who are open to learning and open to helping others be successful in their learning.

If you are in the AIM Program or have graduated from the AIM Program, congratulations! If you are thinking about joining us, I look forward to meeting you soon.


Author Kelly BrownAbout Kelly Brown

Kelly Brown is an IT professional, adjunct faculty for the University of Oregon, and academic director of the UO Applied Information Management Master’s Degree Program. He writes about IT topics that keep him up at night.

Sick of All This Data!

Stethoscope on laptopIt appears that there is a gap between the available information technology within healthcare and the adoption of that technology. What is behind this gap? Are health care professionals simply too busy to take advantage of new technology or are the current healthcare privacy laws preventing us from using networked information tools to their fullest?


We have been applying technology to healthcare and disease prevention for centuries but it is only in the last fifty years that we have applied technology to healthcare information collection and dissemination. The pace of introduction and adoption is accelerating and that is causing problems with healthcare professionals and healthcare IT professionals. On the one hand, the introduction of sophisticated healthcare record management applications brings a welcome relief to an industry facing increasing privacy and record management regulations but, at the same time, it is coming on top of an already full workload. How is a healthcare professional supposed to find the time to learn and master the new systems? What is the role of the healthcare IT professional? Are we doing all we can to simplify systems and interfaces in order to accelerate adoption?

Electronic Health Records

According to the Health Information and Management Systems Society, “The Electronic Health Record (EHR) is a longitudinal electronic record of patient health information generated by one or more encounters in any care delivery setting.” This includes information on past interactions with healthcare providers as well as current and past medication history. The aim is to make this information available through an electronic interface to any healthcare provider, whether a patient is seeing their primary provider or whether they become ill while vacationing in a foreign land. With great information, however, comes great responsibility, and thus legislation such as the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA). This creates the tension of providing available medical records through a secure and responsible infrastructure to strained healthcare providers who don’t have additional bandwidth to learn new systems and interfaces.

Interoperability of Health Care Records

Health IT will not achieve the predicted savings and efficiency until technology is more widespread and readily adopted according to a new Health Affairs report. Part of the issue of full adoption has to do with interoperability of health records. Right now, there is not a single standard for sharing health information, and vendors do not have a strong incentive to create a standard. If we couple difficult-to-use technology with the fact that a provider cannot see the full patient history across various health interactions, it is no wonder that health care professionals are reluctant to jump on board and embrace this exciting yet uncertain future.

The question then becomes: what can we do to accelerate the adoption rate of new healthcare technology and systems in order to make record keeping and retrieval easier for everyone?


About Kelly Brown

Kelly Brown is an IT professional, adjunct faculty for the University of Oregon, and academic director of the UO Applied Information Management Master’s Degree Program. He writes about IT topics that keep him up at night.

Am I in Heaven Yet?

shutterstock_127066418Cloud computing has been a buzz-word for a number of years now. Perhaps because it is such a nebulous/ethereal term (cloud?) that has been used to describe a number of different configurations and scenarios. You are most likely using some sort of cloud computing already but it is worth asking the hard questions to make sure you have the basics covered.


Cloud computing refers simply to the fact that your application or data is no longer on a computer that you can touch. It is hosted in a remote computer room in another city, another, state, or another country. In the “cloud”. What brought about this change, and why haven’t we always done it this way? One of the big reasons is the rising abundance and speed of networking. It used to be that your computer or terminal was tied directly to the computer in the computer room. Through better networking technology, the machine in the computer room and the computer in your hands became further and further separated until it was no longer necessary to have a dedicated room in every building. Better network security schemes has also increased this geographic gap.

Is cloud computing all tea and roses or are there still some lingering concerns? Think about these issues when creating or expanding your cloud computing strategy:


If you contract with a large service provider such as Google or Amazon or IBM to host your application or data, your confidential information will be sitting in the same data center as another customer or perhaps even your competitor. Is the “wall” around your data secure enough to keep your information confidential. When your information is traveling to and from the data center over the network, is it secure? Has it been encrypted for the trip? Do you trust all of your information to the cloud or just the non-critical pieces?


Is your application and data usage large enough to warrant cloud computing? If you are a small company or non-profit agency, the setup for hosting your applications and data may swamp your entire IT budget. Some application service providers only cater to large customers with millions of transactions per month. If you don’t fall into that category then perhaps your IT person is just what you need. At the other end of the scale, some small companies or agencies use free services such as Dropbox or Google Docs. If this is the case, then check your assumptions about security.


Some applications such as customer relationship management (CRM) or simple e-mail or backups may be easily offloaded to another provider. Other applications may be complex or proprietary to the point where it makes more sense to keep them closer to the vest. They might still be a candidate in the future as you peel back the layers of legacy and move toward standard applications.

These are all questions to consider when formulating your cloud computing strategy. It can be a real cost savings to offload your computing to another provider but without careful consideration, it can become a complexity you did not bargain for. What keeps you up at night in terms of your cloud computing strategy?


About Kelly Brown

Kelly Brown is an IT professional, adjunct faculty for the University of Oregon, and academic director of the UO Applied Information Management Master’s Degree Program. He writes about IT topics that keep him up at night.

To BYOD or not to BYOD

shutterstock_128593868Bring Your Own Device or BYOD is a hot topic these days, but what’s the big deal? It seems that everyone has their own smartphone/pocket computer. We learned to deal with the Blackberry years ago. Why not blur the lines between consumer technology and business technology? Can’t we all just get along? While it may seem that your IT department is the very embodiment of Dilbert’s Mordac, The Preventer of Information Services, there is a very good reason why they are cautious and you should be too.


The device belongs to the employee but the data belongs to the company. Mobile devices are great for extending our workflow, our workday, and for keeping us in constant contact. In the midst of all of this work, wherever it may happen, an employee will most likely pass company data through their mobile device, either for viewing, editing or storing. Company confidential information is worrisome enough but what about personally identifiable information (PII) belonging to your customers? Is every mobile device protected by a PIN? Is data encrypted on your device while at rest? Is data always encrypted while transiting over the network? How are employees sharing data? Over the cloud? Whose cloud? There is a lot to think about when deciding on a BYOD policy and deciding whether to allow personal devices to access your network. Bill Ho, president of Biscom has created a list of security items to consider when creating a BYOD security policy.


As the number of IT personnel has shrunk through cost cutting and rightsizing, the number of smart devices and platforms has exploded. Blackberry used to be the only game in town, but now we have Apple iOS, Android, Windows Phone, WebOS and other platforms with fun version names like Ice Cream Sandwich and Jellybean. Further up the stack, there are apps that have their own security issues. The sheer combinatorics of it all would cause any IT professional to run screaming for the network closet. To do justice to a solid BYOD policy, an organization would need at least one full time person to monitor platforms and applications that are accessing the enterprise systems. Do you have that kind of manpower? Is there a middle ground without compromising information security mentioned above?


Another consideration is the compatibility of all of these different devices and platforms and mobile applications and your corporate applications. Will X always talk to Y? Does it cause the IT department to scramble to get your unique permutation working for you? Is it worth the effort for your personal productivity?

Good News

There is a lot to consider when deciding to embrace BYOD. On the upside, it can extend the productivity of employees as long as security and compatibility concerns are adequately addressed. The good news is that there are tools available to help you manage mobile devices. You can find solutions from IT service providers such as IBM and Dell or from security providers such as Symantec and others. These applications can help you reach the right level of availability, convenience, and security in order for your employees to maximize their productivity and help you sleep at night.

Do you have a comprehensive BYOD plan? Is it working? What keeps you up at night?


About Kelly Brown

Kelly Brown is an IT professional, adjunct faculty for the University of Oregon, and academic director of the UO Applied Information Management Master’s Degree Program. He writes about IT topics that keep him up at night.

The Dilemma of the Capable

shutterstock_11794999I read an article recently by Greg McKeown—The #1 Career Mistake Capable People Make—about our inability to prioritize our work in order to maximize our contribution. His premise is that when capable people shine, they are noticed and sought after and put on a LOT of different projects but then their effort gets diluted, because they are capable, and they fail to realize their highest point of contribution.

It made me think of my own life and career and I wonder if I fall into the same trap? I shared an object lesson around time priorities at a recent graduation. If you consider your time as an empty jar, you can fill that time with family, friends, career, school, faith, personal fitness, etc., as represented by large rocks filling the jar. Now, it may appear as if the jar is full, but in truth there are still some pockets that could be filled by smaller rocks representing less important things in our lives such as hobbies, leisure activities, volunteer activities, etc. Again, it appears that the jar now is full but there is room still for some even less important activities such as games, reading, shopping, etc., represented by sand, or even water.

It seems that no matter how much we fill our lives and our time, there seems to be room for more, but should we really take on that seemingly unimportant task, just because we are capable? Or should we instead focus on our “big rocks” and strengthen our career and our personal life. On any given evening or weekend, my “small rocks” seem to conflict with each other. This may be a sign that I am trying to fit too much in my jar and not focusing on the few important things that can help keep me moving forward. I have heard it said that you can go broad or you can go deep but not both. You have to choose.

Do you ever feel you are not reaching your highest contribution, just because you are that capable person that everyone wants on their team, on their project, on their committee or board? How do you focus on those important things that can make you stand out and make your life and career fulfilling?

What is important in your jar? What is it that makes you stand out? What strategies have you found to help you focus on those things? Share your thoughts.


About Kelly Brown

Kelly Brown is an IT professional, adjunct faculty for the University of Oregon, and academic director of the UO Applied Information Management Master’s Degree Program. He writes about IT topics that keep him up at night.