On This Day in 1990

Today marks the 31st anniversary of the signing of the NCFLL-DOL Joint Statement of Purpose, creating the partnership for the Employee Involvement and Quality Improvement initiative.  I was the union representative, having explored and advocated quality and process improvement with Bernie Shain starting in the late 1970s. I still have a box of information Betnie and I were able to obtain about the few early efforts in government (which we got thanks to FTS- “free telephone service” enabling us to call all over the country).  

On this day in 1990, in a room at the Perkins Building, Secretary Dole, NCFLL President Rios, AFGE President John Sturdivant, Jim Armshaw and I, and some DOL officials, heard the Secretary proclaim that “our employees are our greatest asset.”

We had worked for a year preparing for this day.  We learned about self-organizing and self-managing teams.  I figured out how EIQI would fit into the Contract.  We stripped agency steering committees down to their bate minimum of two people kut of necessity- not knowing this had not been done anywhere before.  

In six months, we had over 220 EIQI teams working around the country.  In three years, Wage and Hour’s San Francisco region won a Federal Quality Improvement Orototype Award- the second-highest award in the Federal sector. 

A few things you might not know or remember-

Doris Wooten had rejected Bernie’s and my TQM proposals for years. 

What made me the choice of the NCFLL to work on a DOL TQM initiative happened by happy accident.  At an RA  meeting, Doris was talking to OSHA RA Jim Stanley.  Doris said she had a bad relationship with me and the Local.  She noted the positive relationship I had with Jim, and asked his advice on improving things with me and the Union.  Jim said “have you ever done anything nice for Bruce?” (Knowing full well how she was, and what the answer was).  Doris replied “what do you mean?” Jim said, “well… have you ever invited Bruce to any of your management meetings to talk with your DDs and ADDs?” (Again, knowing the answer).  Jim explained how he had invited me to an OSHA meeting in Saratoga and had me speak with them about LMR.  Jim asked if there was anything Doris could do for me. She thought a moment and said she had invites to the Federal Quality conference.  She knew my interest over the years. So in May 1989 I went to the conference.  I came back fully convinced this was the way forward for Wage and Hour, DOL, and the NCFLL. 

On the Union side, EIQI almost didn’t happen.  At an NCFLL meeting in Summer 1990, two leaders, Richard Coon and Jim Weyrauch, spoke against it.  Both were controlling types, and they expressed their fear that such collaboration would undetmine Unuon power.  But… AFGE president John Sturdivant was in the room.  He stood up in the back as Weyrauch finished.  John beamed as he said “brothers and sisters, I have seen the future of our union, and it is EIQI!”  

Secretary Dole was under pressure from the White House to get a TQM initiative started.  She approached the NCFLL about hearing some TQM experts present about it.  Over dinner in DC, the Council talked first about the Union’s upcoming major anniversary (25th?) and how we could get union leaders around the country together to celebrate.  Suddenly- an AHA moment.  WHAT IF…. we told Secretary Dole to bring every upper management person and every union leader from around the country to DC to hear the TQM presenters for a day.  AND THEN… we gave our celebration dinner that night.  All travel on DOL!   Well… it worked!

Although the work I was doing was easily at the GS-15 level, I worked as a GS-12 in behalf of the Union. After EIQI earned the Prototype Award, Jim Armshaw suggested to his boss, OASAM A/Sec Tom Komarek, that I be put in for an award.  Once approved, I was to get a $5,000 award.  But then… a story appeared on Page 6 of the Washington Post.  The Federal page.  The last place you wanted to appear.  Komarek had been found to have written himself up for the top award as well… with a $25,000 award.  Well… he was soon out.  No award to him.  And, unfortunately, my award went down the hole with him. 

The end of EIQI and the Federal Quality Movement is another story.  How it gave way to Reinventing Government is a little-known story with its own remarkable coincidences that brought the story to me.  A story for another day. 

Today, we have both the need and the opportunity to implement some Federal approach to improve effectiveness, efficiency, innovation, and public trust in government.  I believe now what I believed in 1990- that empowering employees, collaborating and exploring possibilities, partnering with unions, and accountability for acting consistent with shared values, is the way to achieve these goals. 

Onwards,

Bruce

Sent from my iPhone

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The Place-In-Between. . .

I have been thinking this week about the place-in-between…

Between our intended meaning as we communicate and act, and the meaning interpreted by other reasonable people.

Between our freedom to think and act in accordance with our own sense of norms, values, and beliefs, and the consequences of our actions on others who do not share the same norms, values, and ideologies.

Between compassion born of deep listening and observing, filtered by a sense of caring, and a sense of indifference born of a sense of independence and entitlement to be as we choose, without consequences.

Between the possibility space of respectful dialogue with those of different mind, and the isolation of confirmation bias.

Change and progress are rarely easy or free of challenges. If we are not able to acknowledge the limits – and consequences – of our thinking and actions, we will never get to and through the place between, to seek and enter the place of new possibility.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The Donut and the Hole…in Krispy Kreme’s System

As folks line up, vaccinated card in hand, to get a free donut at Krispy Kreme, a few words about my experience. . . and my shock at what I learned there.

The decision to get, or personally eat, a free item, would seem to be a personal decision. Ideally informed by one’s awareness of your own health, and the impact of eating- a donut.

And yet, as I was shocked to learn when I visited the nearest Krispy Kreme to my home last Friday, there is a far bigger and more serious problem happening there.

On entering the store, I got in the masked and distanced limited occupancy line along a series of cases displaying literally hundreds of donuts, in dozens of varieties. In addition to my free glazed donut, I wanted a blueberry donut- of which at least two dozen were in the case on display.

But at the register when I ordered, I was told “sorry, we don’t have any blueberry donuts.” I was surprised, and frankly certain the clerk didn’t know so many were literally two steps away to her right. I gestured and said, “excuse me, but there are lots of blueberry donuts right here in the case.” With no tone of apology or regret, the clerk said “those are not for sale. They are for display only.”

What‽ I asked with incredulity what she meant. Why were the literally hundreds of donuts displayed in cases right in front of the customers NOT available? And if they were not for sale, what was to be done with them?

The clerk replied – again, with a tone of both certainty and correctness- that these were simply for show, and that after a certain number of hours. . . they were. . . thrown away.

I was shocked and appalled. “What do you mean? Why can’t you sell these? And why would you throw them out? Why can’t you donate them to a local organization to feed those in need?”

The further reply only amplified my shock and disdain. The clerk said that it was policy. That the manager decided when the display donuts were no longer useful, and needed to be thrown out. That they could not be given away, because after a certain number of hours, they might (emphasis in my mind on “might”) be bad, and might make someone sick. A risk Krispy Kreme just could not and would not take.

To this, I replied that Krispy Kreme needed to change their system. Either sell the display case donuts, or give them away when it was safe enough to feed those in need. Of course, the clerk had no answer for my concern and complaint.

After leaving, I checked on the web and learned that Krispy Kreme has been faulted for this practice before.

Why, I wondered as I drove away, could Krispy Kreme not put up high-definition tv’s with beautiful bright images of their donuts, as Dunkin and other chains do nowadays? Why literally waste hundreds of perfectly fine donuts every day?

And so, for those bringing vaccination cards for freebies… why not coordinate with a local foodbank or similar charity to have a van outside each KK so we can immediately give away our free donuts and food to those who both need something to eat. . . and who likely have not yet been vaccinated?

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Strategic Planning: The Core Before…

My response on what core elements I include in proposals to assist an org with strategic planning. What do YOU do?

Several critical elements…

Whose voices need to be invited, included, heard, and considered?

How will you assess whether a situation you are experiencing is simple/clear (use known best practice); complicated/technical (use knowable expert practice); or currently unknowable/complex (try multiple ideas and adapt to best outcomes)?

Will you agree to use a lightly-structured framework for inclusive, generative dialogue; decision-making; and assessment of outcomes?

Will all voices present generate and agree on a short list of core values and principles, which will serve as a lens to evaluate all ideas and options, and to hold each other accountable for doing what we said we would do, the way we said we would do it?

Will all voices present define metrics in advance to assess the outcomes of trying promising ideas, and how ideas with undesired results will be stopped, and success stabilized and amplified?

#leadership #adaptive #collaboration #cognition #coherence #innovation #dialogue #discernment #weaksignals #story #sensemaking #emergence #rebuildbetter #complexity #fluxcapacity #narrative #patternrecognition #appliedinsights #planning

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

En-courage…

These are times… more than most times, I believe…when the curiosity, courage, and compassion needed in the world… are calling us to explore… to wander… to ponder the story of each and all… to wreck the journal of what has been… and write the journal of what could be…

A couple of years ago, when I visited the remarkable Olana state park and estate in New York’s Hudson Valley, I went to see the equally remarkable Wander Society tent and installation Keri Smith had built there for us all. And there, I met explorers… wanderers… visitors who came upon this thing and knew not what it was. And I did my best to explain, and show them. En-couraging them to open every drawer, look in every folder and book… and find the gifts carefully placed within.

And that day, I also was so fortunate to see the last day of the also equally remarkable Wander Society camp for young kids. I saw the art the kids had made, met and talked with the 7-8 year-olds who had been through this journey together, and talked with the teachers who had guided them all in Keri’s vision.

And now, this day… we must wander… explore…en-courage… each, and all.

https://www.brainpickings.org/2012/08/24/how-to-be-an-explorer-of-the-world-keri-smith/?fbclid=IwAR2jA-EpshIVJ_TZXtGpzAb5NRuOacfsFURqJQT4dkS7Jsb-pFdK-EduH08

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Join the FIRST EVER EAST COAST LIBERATING STRUCTURES EXPERIENCE!

Well HI THERE fans and friends of Liberating Structures in the GREATer Philadelphia area… Yes. . . it HAS been a while… AND. . . well, a lot has been happening with our Yes, And…Philly group.


So YES, AND. . . it is time again to CONNECT | COLLABORATE | CREATE as we join with other great Liberating Structures facilitators to bring you the first ever joint EAST COAST LS EXPERIENCE!

On behalf of our great LS communities and their organizers in Ann Arbor, Michigan; Washington, D.C.; New Jersey; Montreal, Canada; and the Greater Philadelphia areas…

Do you have CHALLENGES right now? In your organizations? Your communities? Challenges that may be complex or even chaotic at times, and where no expert knows a certain solution? The set of unique methods known as LIBERATING STRUCTURES offers ways to open up and include all voices, all ideas. Ways to do better together. If you have experienced Liberating Structures before, you know they are EASY TO LEARN, EASY TO IMPLEMENT, AND GENERATE RESULTS.

Today, with the unique and complex challenges we are all experiencing, LS are needed more than ever. This is why a group of LS community leaders have come together to offer this unique online LIBERATING STRUCTURES EXPERIENCE.
SO JOIN US… as we guide hundreds of participants – and YOU – through a series of Liberating Structures both familiar, and… emerging. Learn the WHAT, HOW, and WHY of these remarkable collaborative methods.


WHEN: NOVEMBER 18th
TIME: 8-10p.m. Eastern U.S. Time
COST: This one is FREE, thanks to the efforts and contributions of our JOINT LS EXPERIENCE organizers Mentioned above.

Over 75 people have already registered, and we have a limit of 250 for this event. Please click the link below, and REGISTER TODAY to secure your spot at this first-of-its-kind event.

Registration link:

https://forms.gle/aZPS3aVvhmQDbSyf7

Stay well, friends, and we look forward to seeing you again soon!

For Yes, And. . .Philly,

Bruce

Bruce Waltuck, MA, C, C, and C

Organizer/Leader

Yes, And. . .Philly

The Philadelphia Area Group for Liberating Structures and. . . 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

In the Beginning: Without Form

We know there are fundamentally different kinds of situations we experience in life. From simple, clear stuff, to more complicated technical ordered stuff. From the seemingly disordered complex stuff, to the truly chaotic.

And in the center of it all… “tohu vabohu.”

What? Not familiar with this primordial state? Each year, Jews around the world read the Books of Moses one section per week. And tonight marks the opening reading “Bereisheit” – In the Beginning..

And the opening words are translated as the universe being “without form, and void.” In Hebrew, “tohu vabohu.” Which is also linguistically related to “chaos” and “confused.”

So… in the darkness that preceded the light… our first perceptions are of chaos, disorder, formlessness. And from the confusion… the first day. Of light. Life. Possibility. Of all domains of order and disorder. Of clarity and complexity.

As the magicians say, “abra-cadabra,” also from ancient Hebrew… “it is created as I speak.”

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Adopt and Adopt- Together: Supporting Entrepreneurship Now And Always

A couple of thoughts about Adapting.. inspired by my exchanges with friends and colleagues in the 1 Million Cups Organizers’ Summit today.

Rooted in my more than 20 years of learning, applying, and teaching concepts from the field of Complex Adaptive Systems.

..we humans encounter several related bu different kinds of situations. Some are simple or obvious- we all know what to do (like getting a flat tire fixed, perhaps). Some are complicated and technical, like fixing your transmission or getting a root canal. Experts might have slightly different approaches but it is still pretty certain they can fix it. But some stuff is complex… like the impact on small and startup businesses by a historic pandemic. No expert knows what it is exactly, or how to assure the desired outcome. Some stuff we experience is just catastrophic and chaotic.

..there is research and consensus on the optimal sequence of what to do in response to each type of situation or challenge. In the complex stuff, the best we can do is to try promising ideas, observe and learn from what happens, and keep the good ones and stop the ones that don’t work. (See Snowden and Boone HBR 2007).

..as entrepreneurs and as 1MC organizers (an entrepreneurial effort in itself), we know things aren’t always going to go according to plan. Is there stuff we can learn that will help? How do my feelings about what happened impact my ability to respond? Do I have the courage and curiosity to keep exploring options even though I know some will fail?

..as we all journey on in this… can we be Flexible enough to change? Can we Adopt good ideas from others and Adapt to what is happening around us- even if whatever it is is unclear? Can we be Resilient- absorbing the impact of unwanted circumstances and still keep moving ahead?

We can help entrepreneurs and our 1MC community… by hearing all voices…sharing promising ideas, failures and successes… supporting each other…caring for and about each other.

Just my 99 cents worth for now.

What do others think?

See you soon,

Bruce

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

T. Irene Sanders on “Being President In a Complex World”

I first encountered complex adaptive systems science in 1998- literally a life-changing moment for me. One of the people whose work I found early in my complexity learning journey was T. Irene Sanders. An early student of complexity, Irene has worked particularly in applying insights and methods to the work of public policy, and military intelligence analysis. About 14 years ago, I hired Irene to be a featured speaker at a conference in D.C. that I organized on new insights for government improvement.

Over the past few months, I have been on dozens of Zooms with literally thousands of people from around the world on complexity, and leading positive change through this pandemic. The other night I revisited my bookshelf, and two books almost leapt into my hands. One was Irene Sanders’ 1998 book “Strategic Thinking and the New Science.” Re-reading the book, I found Irene’s “Futurescape” methodology to be enduring, and needed now.

A quick stop today at Irene’s website for her “Center For Complexity and Public Policy” led to me to a link for an article she wrote on “being President in a Complex World.” The article, written after the 2016 election, but before the 2017 inauguration, has interesting insights known and knowable then, and… points us to the reflection and retrospection we may make of the last four years from our perspective today.

Click to access being-president-in-a-complex-world.pdf

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Repairing The World – The Work of “Tikkun Olam”

On the seventh day, the Holy One of Being rested. They had contracted their infinity to make a tiny point from which the universe we know today began. Through dimensions of emanation, creation, and formation, to our human world of action.

And while the creator of the universe might have made us complete and perfect, they did not.

Our ancient wisdom traditions tell us that we are responsible for “tikkun olam” – to repair the world. We are, then partners in the completion of creation in this universe. We can not fully know the Infinite Source – the “Ein Sof.” We can know they are there, breathing life-energy into our expanding universe.

And we can open our hearts and minds to the capacities for curiosity, courage, compassion, and caring. . . for all.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment