➻ I’m a big fan of strategy + business‘s author choice excerpts. The most recent recommendation, by Who Killed Health Care? author Regina E. Herzlinger, is John Torinus Jr.’s The Company That Solved Health Care: How Serigraph Dramatically Reduced Skyrocketing Costs While Providing Better Care, and How Every Company Can Do the Same. The excerpt’s title, Beer, Brats and Butterfat, was enough of a hook for my accurately stereotypical Wisconsin tastes.
Kurt Eschenfelder, a former college football player and engineer at Serigraph, stands 6 feet 4 inches and tipped the scales at 330 pounds. He looked indestructible. That was until his required health screening showed his blood sugar count at 177, which meant he was pre-diabetic.
Guys like Kurt are commonplace in Wisconsin, where we like our beer, bratwurst, and butterfat (translate: cheese and other dairy products). Typically, in the passive U.S. health care model, Kurt’s doctor would have given him a lecture, and Kurt would have been essentially on his own to head off a diabetic condition.
In the proactive model Serigraph has developed, Kurt was surrounded with help. He consulted with Tammy Ertl, our on-site nurse practitioner, Rachel Topercer, a dietician, and Sandy Stockhausen, the diabetes educator from Aurora Health, one of the two big health providers in our area.
Kurt listened, and, unlike most diabetics or near-diabetics, he started a disciplined regimen. He dropped about fifty pounds over approximately six months and lowered his blood sugar to around one hundred without medications. Now, Kurt has no other warning signals for diabetes in his physical makeup.
I can assure you that the book’s title is not hyperbole. John Torinus and his company really have figured this stuff out. Working with the author last week in the run up to publishing his ChangeThis manifesto, Through the Fog: Solving Healthcare in Companies, I only received one correction from him:
Looks good. One change: we can now say [that we've had] only three premium increases in eight years (vs. seven in the copy). We will have no hike to employees in 2011. Hooray.
➻ The latest issue of The Business Beat has been released by the good people of Portfolio. This month the focus is on technology, and Courtney Young set herself the envious task of interviewing Kevin Kelly, author of What Technology Wants. They also have a takeaway from Lisa Gansky, author of The Mesh: Why the Future of Business Is Sharing, which I think is a book of as much importance as The Long Tail and Wikinomics. We the have the usual suspects, Adrian Zackheim and our own Jack Covert. Adrian discusses the role of technology in book publishing and Jack Covert takes a look at Geoffrey Moore’s classic, Crossing the Chasm. Rounding out the issue is Penguin’s Manager of Inventory and Operations, Matthew Pavoni, on how Cali Ressler and Jodi Thompson’s Why Work Sucks and How to Fix It made him a better manager.
➻ The Largehearted Boy has begun posting his annual Online “Best of 2010″ Book Lists, in which he aggregates every online “best of” book list he can find. I have one to add: 50 Books About Books from Fine Books Magazine.
➻ In other book nerd news, The Design Observatory took a look at The Library: A Museum. Apparently university libraries are awash in antiquarian delight.
I shouldn’t be reading this book—I shouldn’t even be touching it. It is a fragile copy of Oliver Twist from 1841, printed only three years after it was written. Dickens himself might have held it. The pages are paper-towel thick and velvety soft. The typography makes an impression, both literally and figuratively. Tissue protects its many engravings—elaborate scenes of beatings—to ironically save them from injury. To read the text is to time-travel. One gains insight into grammar from the past: “To-morrow” is hyphenated in the annals of yesteryear. Colons : surrounded on either side by spaces : are used unfamiliarly : as in parenthetical thought. Every eighth page is numbered—possibly to track signatures. The contemporary mind fills with intrigue and wonder.
And where did I find such a treasure? Quite conveniently, right in the stacks.
He goes on to ask what such books can teach us about design:
Let me rephrase that: what can’t they teach us about design? Inspiring page layout; unusual language; informative content; unrecognizable typefaces; unfamiliar color palettes; styles of illustration that have long been forgotten; historical connections; echoes from designers that—products of their own time—we couldn’t possibly recreate. It is cognitive overload.
If any of that even slightly stirs you, go read the rest of the post. There is much more going on there than I can do justice to here.
➻ And there’s this news from Publishers Weekly about the exact opposite—the cutting edge of digital book distribution (though the link above does discuss digital design):
More unusual is a new app from the publishing imprint of Pearson, FT Press, which was launched on Monday on LinkedIn, the business social network, making FT Press the first company to launch a LinkedIn app.
If it can help me with their recent release Invisible Forces and Powerful Minds: Gravity, Gods, and Minds from The Chicago Social Brain Network, then I’m all for it. Go to the original announcement to learn more.
➻ In McSweeney’s Internet Tendencies’ latest open letter to people or entities that are unlikely to respond, Mark Rook wrote a depressingly touching Open Letter to the Homeless Man Who Witnessed Me Totally Lose It Last Week. It is one of those small pieces that you think is going to be good for a quick laugh, but ends up wiping any trace of smile off your face and taking you to a much deeper place. It’s ending is sweet enough that you may just end up smiling once again, though. Much better than a quick laugh.
➻ Coming home late last weekend, I put on a record that I hadn’t listened to in a very long time and remembered something important I had forgotten.