Wednesday, October 20, 2010

More for your learning pleasure: A blog inside the federal firewall

For those of you following this blog and you are a federal employee (or member of the military), consider checking out our blog on Intelink-U: In Pursuit of Organizational Excellence: For Guardians (and others) interested in organizational management and leadership.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Friday, August 21, 2009

I might chaff under it, but we need it: To be managed like a firm...

I've been toying with this whole notion that, more than a dozen years after we first discussed it, at least as I recollect, we are actually forming a more cohesive consulting organization, one which, I hope, serves the Coast Guard better than we do today.

To that end, I've been giving thought to what regional management of the firm might look like, and one thing that is clear is we ought to have some sort of way for clients to engage us for specific gigs. I thought of the industrial's work and how they use Industrial Service Orders to help manage and administer their work. Nothing gets done without a complete ISO, which includes an assigned number. And I thought, why not us?

So, I propose the Consulting Service Order, or CONSO (so as not be confused with the myriad CSO acronymns) for the organizational performance consultant cadre; something like:

What changes ought I make? What information would you collect for an initial request for a consulting gig?

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

One vision of the world of work for an OPC

Somehow, I missed this interview with Chris Kluckhuhn at the Center for Homeland Defense and Security at the Naval Postgraduate School:
The U.S. Coast Guard’s use of Organizational Performance Consultants to Facilitate Process Improvement and Innovation

In this interview, Chris Kluckhuhn discusses the process of transitioning grass roots IT efforts into enterprise solutions through the use of graduate teams, other governmental agencies, hands on application at the field level, senior support, and intelligent persistence. He highlights the Coast Guard’s implementation of FalconView and employment of the Cursor On Target interoperability protocol as two tangible examples to illustrate the processes involved.
Nicely done, Chris.

Monday, June 01, 2009

Perhaps it's time to ask a different existential question

Reprinted from the June 2009 edition of the USCG Performance Improvement Newsletter.

As many of you know, for the last several years I have flirted with the idea of getting back into the boarding school business as a faculty or administrative member. I recently came upon the strategic plan for a school in Pennsylvania. You’ll find the plan posted on the school’s website under the “About” tab.

I was struck by how the plan actually both represented the school now and the school they want to be. I was struck by how approachable the plan was, and I was struck by how rich the plan was. It’s like a rich seam in the earth, a seam which beckons we come forward and find the riches.

I wrote the head of school asking him a couple of questions, and his answers provide us, I believe, some food for thought.

Before I note any details of his response, an anecdote about a recent gig I had at a marine safety unit.

I was delivering the Team Leader/Facilitator course and during the first day, it became clear that a primary purpose of their attending the course was to prepare to facilitate a unit-wide strategic planning meeting where all hands would participate in a SWOT analysis. There was some slight trepidation that the session would not go well (based on some things that happened the last time this effort was completed); the students wondered if I might be able to help facilitate the meeting.

No conflict on my calendar, so I went to the XO and CO to see if I could offer my services. Not needed, was the response.

So, we worked “preparing for the session” into the TL/Fac class and the five students facilitated the SWOT session the following Monday.

The XO & CO were more than right: I didn’t need to be there.

Wrote the XO after the meeting: “The team prepared an aggressive agenda, pre-staged the room, employed silent brainstorming, affinitized the input & multi-voted to keep the session productive & on track. They did a great job guiding the unit through a successful, productive day in record time.”

How’s this tie in with that independent school’s strategic plan? Well, I’d asked the head about the strategic planning process, and whether or not they used consultants. I also asked about how they move from the strategies to action. Here’s some of what he wrote:
Our first SP was published in 2003, about 9 months after I was appointed headmaster. . . . I managed the process myself, including all the writing, as I'd had experience developing such plans at two other schools. Every member of our faculty/staff was assigned to one of six focus groups (these areas of focus were identified/selected by trustees and senior staff) - and, through a series of meeting with each group, we identified overall goals, then defined strategies that were paired with each goal.

In 2007 we published our second SP. The document you are referring to is the "external" version of our plan. I feel strongly that, to put it bluntly, a strategic plan needs to be presented to the whole school community (alumni, parents, foundations, etc.) as a marketing piece – glossy paper, nice pictures, etc. There's an associated "internal" document – the SP Implementation Schedule, that defines associated costs and the person/people who are primarily responsible for push particular strategies forward. . . . On an annual basis, I color-code all the strategies: green = completed; yellow = in-process; red = not yet begun. It gives a quick visual indication of where we are in each area. Also part of this update is a color-coded timeline on which an updated accounting of scheduled completion dates is presented.

. . . We've used the SP07 along with the Board-level planning instrument as a focal point and standing agenda item in our regular senior staff meetings. At every Board meeting, the senior staff member who is overseeing each of the four focal areas for the Board planning initiative gives a report on plans and progress for that particular area.

There's an argument to be made for engaging third-party consultants to help with planning. In fact, we used a local development/planning consultant to gather benchmarking data and complete a SWOT analysis for us. That was helpful in getting started - but, ultimately, the fact that we managed the process, start-to-finish, gave a different, more positive, sense of ownership of the plan than I'd witnessed in settings where the plan was developed and written by a consultant.
I thought the head’s comments were telling, particularly as I look back over nearly two decades of serving as a consultant, and right on target with the XO and CO who wanted me to prepare and coach their members. We’re not needed to do work. We should be spending our time teaching other people how to implement Baldrige-based processes and systems. Clich├ęd, but, teach a person to fish…

One of the things I’ve been grappling with is the existential question, “Am I making a difference.” I go into a unit to do some work, whatever it might be, and I wonder if I’m making any organizational difference. Sometimes, it’s hard to see what difference my work has made. Perhaps, it’s time for me to reframe the question. The question isn’t about organizational difference; the question is, “Have I provided people new tools they can use to manage and lead this unit and future units?” Perhaps our focus ought to be about preparing people – not doing organizational work, but providing the tools and skills and knowledge for those in leadership and management positions to do what is necessary to lead and manage the organization.

Monday, January 19, 2009

From Web Worker Daily: 5 Extra Documents You Should Provide for Your Clients

Great post by Celine Roque. Even though she's a freelancer, I believe her insight applies to internal consultants, also.

All this time that I’ve been a freelancer, I always blindly accepted real-time customer support as a fact of freelancing life. I just have to be accessible to clients whenever they have any questions, want clarifications, or need an explanation about the things I’m doing. Even if I’m not the one who’s always handling customer support, someone’s time is wasted by answering the same questions and explaining the same things over and over. And that is never a good thing.

But if something is repetitive, then it can be automated. How can we make our clients better informed so that they don’t ask us the same questions repeatedly?
See the full post here.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Where’s the Beef?

Baldrige Burger
Originally uploaded by Tidewater Muse
This was too good to pass up; this essay was written by Jeff Wright and published in the November 2008 CG OPC Newsletter.

By Jeff Wright

The visual model of the Baldrige criteria, showing the categories and their relationships, is referred to as the Baldrige Burger, but is that simply because of the way it looks? Perhaps when introducing clients to “the burger” it would be a good idea to give a more robust explanation of the name. An officemate (Jeff Dow) once exhibited true LEADERSHIP when he challenged me on calling the burger “a burger” shortly after I started with the Coast Guard and was STRATEGICALLY PLANNING and preparing my first presentation. I was forced to think more about the APPROPRIATENESS and IMPORTANCE of using the name “burger”.

In my mind a burger is something made of separate but complimentary ingredients, a meal that is a system of sorts with all of the ingredients LINKED and working together to make it all encompassing, complete and satisfying with no GAPS (all of the food groups can easily be represented). A burger is something convenient that you can really get your hands around. A burger gives us a quick and easy way to satisfy a need, hunger. Most of all COMPARITIVELY speaking, a burger is fun. Cutting down my burger consumption and ceasing this TREND was something I had to do in my efforts to lose weight, however, they could not be entirely eliminated from my diet as I clearly recognize the legitimate element of fun involved in my long standing RELATIONSHIP with the burger.

Imagine firmly grasping and embracing the burger, perhaps quite firmly, as you eagerly take a substantial bite. Then begins the chewing and the mixing of separate ingredients and condiments as they come into ALIGNMENT, combine and work together to give an overall satisfying experience. Finally the actual swallowing or moment of ingestion when the combined elements are fully INTEGRATED and become part of you in order to curb certain pangs. Various remnants remain on the chin and in the teeth as reminders of the experience while also prompting the eager CONSUMER (you) to take yet another delicious bite.

Let’s consider the KEY FACTORS that support both the BASIC REQUIREMENTS and the MULTIPLE REQUIREMENTS of a burger.

First are the buns that hold everything together. A burger without a bun is “naked” or “open face” some people (including your’s truly) would argue that this is not a really burger at all but just a random hodge-podge of ingredients requiring extra utensils and the WORKFORCE FOCUS associated with dish-washing. The top bun covers everything and provides REFERENCE or even a certain CONTEXT for everything under it. The bun is flexible or AGILE which allows it to adjust for change. Any burger connoisseur would agree that the bun does in fact CREATE VALUE to the entire burger eating experience. The top bun does all of this while also being one of the first and most important things that the CUSTOMER experiences. The bottom bun is CRITICAL and serves as the FOUNDATION and STABILIZING element of our burger. It is also the part that seems to collect the “juices” that are fed from all of the other ingredients as INPUT. These juices help the bun CONFORM to the other parts of the burger but also have an interesting effect on the bun’s texture allowing it to provide even more of a STABILIZING force or contributing OUTPUT as the biting and eating continue. Thus the more the burger is used and consumed, the more of an effective FACTOR the bottom bun becomes over the LONG and SHORT TERM.

Several ingredients or COMPONENTS can be found between the buns of a burger but it is not clear which is most important because when you separate them it looses its burger-ness (see PIG bottom of pg 62 – top of pg 63). Often at a cook–out I might hear someone say that they are putting more burgers on the grill, maybe they will also offer me another burger as they thrust a plate full of meat at me. This particular APPROACH and SPECIFIC LANGUAGE is just not correct and presents a significant OPPORTUNITY FOR IMPROVEMENT, however, in my anxiousness to see the PROCESS MANAGED and get fed, I may avoid a correction in order to achieve the desired RESULTS. A most important LEARNING is that meat patties are not burgers, they are simply ingredients.

It is agreed that as a unit meat may be a considerable ingredient to a burger, but just what is meat anyway? For the purposes at hand we should simply think of it as just one, and only one, of the COMPLIMENTARY ingredients, however, meat could also possibly be made of something a cow once considered a burger (but that’s another article).

The ingredients, components or elements between the buns are what form the STRUCTURE of the burger. Completely complimentary and inherently linked, these elements are what form the burger’s substance and MATRIX.

The only way to truly appreciate all that the burger has to offer is to formulate an ACTION PLAN with an initial TASK being to actually get hold of one, wrapping your hands around it, and another to sink your teeth into the burger and chew like there’s no tomorrow, then DEPLOYMENT takes place as you swallow and savor the sweet feeling as it slides down your gullet.

The consumption of burgers does raise the LEVEL or robustness of one’s own KNOWLEDGE, experience, completeness, and overall substance, however, without the acknowledgement of true value found within the burger, you may just get fat.

~ Jeff Wright

Notes Jeff, the views expressed in this article are not necessarily those of CG-0931 nor any sane person.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

What's next? What now? Help!

Over at In Pursuit of Organizational Excellence I've posted Okay, now that I’m here, what’s next? How’s this supposed to get at tacit knowledge? which came from a shipmate's statement & question:

Now what am I supposed to do? Log in everyday to see what people are writing about??To be blunt, I don’t have time for that. That’s why I don’t find CG Central very effective, but at least on CG Central when I find a site that seems to house docs I’m interested in I can set an alert and I get an e-mail when something new is posted.

So how’s this supposed to get at tacit knowledge?
Read the post on Intelink-U for my full reply.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Commanding Officers speak to organizational performance consultants

At the OPC course this past week, the LDC sponsored a panel of present and former command staff (CO/XO) for the folks going through the course. The panel was composed of an O-6 currently serving as a district resources officer, an O-5 on the staff of the Academy, an O-4 serving as an XO, and an O-3 station commanding officer.

I found the panel discussion enlightening and useful; this wasn’t appropriate solely for new organizational performance consultants. There was something in the discussion for everyone.

Here are some rambling thoughts about the panel presentation.

How a consultant can help unit leaders

One of the primary take-aways for me is that the panel members believe that the relationship between the consultant and the client are key. They want an honest assessment of what the consultant finds, and they want recommendations as to the key one or two things that they can do to improve within the Criteria framework.

At a large unit, it is difficult for the commanding officer to really know what is going on at the deckplate level, and the work of the consultant allows them to see down to that level. They want to tap into the consultant’s experience; OPCs visit lots of units, and the panel members want to hear about proven practices within the framework of the Criteria in the same way that operational standardization teams bring proven practices which can be implemented to increase performance.

They don’t want another inspection; they want consultants to show up and help implement systems and processes in alignment with the Criteria.

Consultant/Client relationship

There was an interesting discussion about how to nurture that relationship between the consultant and the CO/unit members. They suggested OPCs should spend time at the unit, interacting with the crew, getting underway, and putting fresh eyes on the unit to examine processes and provide a new perspective and suggestions. No one in the Coast Guard, suggested the panel members, can rely on what they used to know: things in the Coast Guard are changing too quickly. Consultants (and all staff members, likely) need to get out and see what’s going on now. Panel members suggested that consultants must build relationships with unit commands and crew; consultants must learn about the unit, even going to far as to embed with the unit during operations. Consultants should not rely on hearsay to learn what is going on at the unit, but see it with their own eyes.

One of the panel’s observations was that, generally, unless they reach out to the OPC, they don’t hear from the OPC. The consultants they’ve worked with in the past have not done a consistent and thorough job in terms of reaching out and providing information about the products and services offered.

Panel members also noted that sometimes they don’t know what products and services consultants can deliver or how consultants can help or even when to contact a consultant to request assistance. Helping leaders and managers learn about products and what might trigger a call to a consultant are important.

No time to think… and a specific best practice
The panel also noted that there doesn’t seem to be time any more to just think. They’re putting out fires; there’s no time to analyze data; units and staffs are generally thin and there’s no bench strength. The OPCs can provide at least a little help in those important but not urgent tasks required within the Criteria framework.

Having heard that, I also noted a best practice from one of the panel members that did take time to think but is a best practice which we might want to encourage other units to do. We’ve long complained that “nothing ever happens” with survey data and we’re tired of so many surveys. Unit members end up taking DEOMI surveys, ULDP surveys, OAS surveys, Crew/Climate surveys, and a host of others. One panel member said they had gotten all the survey data and then drafted a summary providing an overview of the results of each survey for the past year or two and what actions were taken in response to the various surveys’ findings. In this way, unit members could see the relationships between all the surveys and see common trends and themes. By including what actions came from each survey, the members also see that survey data doesn’t just go into a black hole, but rather drives action on the part of the command.

Reports and deliverables

Consultant reports and deliverables must be useable to all who need to use it. They ought to be free of jargon, suggested the panel, and they ought to be written in a way appropriate for the message and the audience. Consider multiple reports for a single assessment or intervention, targeted for different segments of the unit (senior leadership, ward room, chiefs’ mess, crew).

Staying awake at night

As already noted above, the panel felt that, as a rule, there’s too much to do with the resources currently on hand. There is a difference between qualification and proficiency, and getting our people past the just qualified stage to proficient, or beyond, is difficult. For instance, at times there are barely enough bullets to just qualify, much less “practice.” Our operational personnel, they suggested, are tapped in terms of the skills, qualifications, and certifications needed for today’s multi-mission environment. One panel member asked, “How do we inspire people to be more than qualified” given the system constraints we currently face? What we need, they suggested, is a Coast Guard where we have the resources to move beyond just the qualification.

In line with that, the panel members noted that they want consultant services which are helpful, not just mandated. Consultants must tie services to the characteristics and needs of the unit.

How to keep on track with organizational management, even through a change of command

Panel members acknowledge d it is difficult at times to continue on the journey to excellence given some of the Coast Guard’s current systems and biases. Success at maintaining travel along the same rail means that processes – such as for planning, measurement, customer focus, etc. – must be documented. Get approach and deployment as a part of the unit’s culture. A change of command will often throw progress off track. Units that have a strong, credible civilian employee at the unit who drives and can help with the succession, is most beneficial.

And in conclusion

That was about it. Great discussion and a great opportunity for learning. I hope my summary was at least of some value for you as we continue our work to help the Coast Guard increase performance and lead and manage organizationally.

Please contribute your thoughts and comments below. Thank you.

Friday, August 15, 2008

OPC Class 2008

Originally uploaded by Tidewater Muse
Picture taken Thursday of the 2nd week... everyone whom Charlie could convince to stand on the steps...

Monday, August 11, 2008

A interesting blog find

Came across an interesting blog find: On Business Process Management. Worth taking a gander at...

Friday, July 25, 2008

Knowledge Management and Lean/Six Sigma

Treasure hunt
Originally uploaded by =Manu=
With the increased interest in six sigma here in the Coast Guard, I thought a recent post at the KM Edge blog was of note. Cindy Hubert recently wrote,
Over the past few months, I've heard from numerous APQC members about their experiences with Six Sigma. Many of the "newcomers" to Six Sigma have mixed reviews about the effectiveness of the methodology. In these discussions, I surfaced APQC's many years of research on Six Sigma, and I was reminded that many of the knowledge management methods and strategies we use today have roots in Six Sigma. I'd like to hear from you about your own experiences, but I thought I'd take this opportunity to describe some of the guiding principles learned from exploring the synergies of KM and Six Sigma.
Read the whole thing here.

Monday, June 09, 2008

I've gone inside the firewall

I've done it. I've created a presence behind the firewall. Come along to From Inside the Firewall for something a little different... or maybe it's just more of the same.

Inside CGDN, you should have no problem seeing the blog. Outside CGDN (or another authorized government data network), you'll need to be logged in to your Passport account. Yes, that's right: all this good stuff is accessible from home, if you have the simply-obtained access.


Sunday, June 08, 2008

Innovation Expo preparation is ramping up

The ALCOAST announcing the Innovation Expo is on the wire.

As usual, the Expo is shaping up to be a must-attend event.

Of note this year, we're hoping to have a 1/2 Measurement Summit follow-on, and I'm also hoping for a 1/2 day new media session for all those Coasties interested in new media.

More to follow.

In the mean time, check out the ALCOAST and start making your travel arrangements.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Say it ain't so.

More from Danny here.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Blogging the Sterling :: How can Coasties find out about these types of conferences?

A loyal reader asked, "How can Coasties find out about these types of conferences?"

The best answer is to check out your local (state) Baldrige-based program. Most states have programs; most states with programs have conferences and opportunities to contribute and learn.

You can also contact the program manager for the Commandant's Performance Excellence Criteria, Dr. David King at CG-0931; he's in the global address list (note he's listed as King Dr). You can also hook up with your local servicing organizational performance consultant (OPC). There are OPCs at each district office, the two areas, and at HQ. If you don't know who your servicing OPC is, contact Danny Prosser, the program manager for the OPCs, also at CG-0931. He's also in the GAL.

And, in desperation, you can always contact me.

Blogging the Sterling :: Strategies for Managing and Motivating the Gen ‘Why’ Workforce

Here are the slides from Ms. Oberle's keynote speech:

You can find Ms. Oberle's website here.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Blogging the Sterling :: Strategies for managing and motivating the Gen-Why workforce (Part 4)

Some more concrete suggestions for leaders who lead Gen Y members.
  • Tune in to their frequency

  • Read their mags, web sites, video games.

  • Set up a MySpace or Facebook account

  • Communicate the expected outcome

  • Really listen for understanding, then you know what you know and what they know.

  • Explain policies and expectations clearly early on, particularly those hardest to enforce. Always explain the why.

  • Celebrate changing the rules. Sometimes organizations have BS rules; when the Gen Y member convinces you to change a rule, celebrate the change. Revisit your rules; ask if they are they still relevant. If not, change 'em.

  • Gen Y will more likely follow rules if they recognize them as fair, relevant, consistent, and enforced.

  • “Link” new employees to others… socialization is important.

  • Link to a strong sense of purpose. Know what the organization is about, how their role fits with the larger purpose, and the linkages to the larger organization.

  • Built loyalty through worthwhile contribution. Give the Gen Y member a chance to contribute.

  • Be 100% honest in every phase of your operation. Don’t hide the truth, ever.

  • Understand the importance of stimulation and change.

  • Encourage camaraderie, and build strong teamwork and unity
What do you think?

Blogging the Sterling :: Strategies for managing and motivating the Gen-Why workforce (Part 3)

So, what are some things that leaders can do to lead members of Gen Y. Here are a few suggestions from Ms. Oberle.
  1. Explain why. Don’t tell them to clean a space, but tell them why it’s important for the space to be clean... Reminds me of a conversation I had earlier this spring with the CO and XO of one of our Integrated Support Commands. They were talking about how they treat those enlisted members who are temporarily assigned to the ISC -- you know, in some places they're known as the sick, the lame, the lazy; at this particular ISC, those terms aren't permitted. And, at this particular ISC, the leadership goes out of their way to let the Gen Y members know the why behind tasks such as cleaning up the trash around the front gate or any other task. They get the why.

  2. Use this model: Teach ---> Do ---> Praise The moment you stop noticing their performance and effort is the moment they stop improving. Look for opportunities to recognize the right behaviors; be specific. Gen Y love the spotlight and to be recognized by peers.

  3. Avoid predictability. Mix things up. Don't do the same old thing the same old way every time. Give them some fun, some intrigue.
I know, just good, old-fashioned leadership tips.

Blogging the Sterling :: Strategies for managing and motivating the Gen-Why workforce (Part 2)

So, what could we say about Gen Y? Ms. Oberle provides a few generalizations of common traits of Gen Y.

As a generality, they are:
  • Impatient. They've grown up in a world of instant gratification, and they want it and they want it now.

  • Adaptable. They embrace change and demand change; they go with the flow. They thrive in change.

  • Innovative. They are ultimate risk takers and speak their mind. They seek out new ways of doing things; they tinker and embrace new technologies.

  • Efficient. Gen Y members use minimal resources and effort to get the most bang for the buck. Okay, you might think they're lazy, but it's just a different set of priorities.

  • Desensitized, but not dehumanized. They've seen so much on TV and in real life, that in order to deal, they've become desensitized.

  • Disengaged. Their minds are more like a DVD than a VCR; they flit and fly from task to task. They seek a loose structure.

  • Skeptical. They’ve been conned too many times before. They're invariably skeptical; call them Doubting Thomas, perhaps.

  • Resilient. They've been exposed to so much that they take things in stride and move on.

  • Bluntly expressive. They've been encouraged all their lives to to speak their minds, so they do.

  • Committed and fiercely loyal to what they believe in. When they have a passion and felt valued by the organization they can do amazing and awesome things.
Of course, these are generalizations, a mere mental model to help us understand those Generation Y members we work with and interact with and live with.

Blogging the Sterling :: Strategies for managing and motivating the Gen-Why workforce (Part 1)

Keynote presentation this morning by Valerie Oberle who had previously worked at Disney for more than 2 decades.

What are the generations we face right now? Ms. Oberle gives us a model with the three broad categories:
  • Boomers, born 1946-1964
  • Gen X, born 1964-1979
  • Gen Y, born 1980-1994
How are generations created?

Attitude and influences shape our behaviors:
  • Parents/family
  • School/education/training
  • Religion/morality
  • Friends/peers
  • Media/culture
Just take a look at what was going on when these generations came of age.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Blogging the Sterling :: Proven practices from last year's recipients of the Sterling Award

Last year's recipients of the Sterling had a chance to speak today to pass along some wise counsel.

Last year's recipients:Here's a few things I picked up listening to their presentations:

Why pursue a Baldrige-based award? To raise expectations, to improve the organization, to get better individually and organizationally.

Sometimes, the work that appears after receiving the feedback report is way more than all the work done prior to the assessment/examination.

The enemy of being great is being good. Being good can lead to complacency, and complacency leads to mediocrity.

Success starts with a linking a strategic plan to results. Every manager needs to be "graded" against the scorecard's results. Organizations must link the strategic plan with accountability and results. No more ready, aim, quit for the strategic planning process; success is a simplified planning process that can be summarized on one page. There must be a regular accountability system to ensure progress toward defined excellence.

In addition, with the strategic plan and the associated and supporting metrics, there must be complete transparency of information and data. All data must be current and available to everyone in the organization. This available and transparent data helps keep the organization focused on the path and provides one version of the truth with information.

Stretch goals are key performance indicators and are necessary for organizational excellence.

The Criteria's robust model ensures that organizations do more than sustain performance levels, but actually increase.

Bringing in outside examiners or assessors to provide feedback is key in sustaining organizational progress. That external view is paramount.

Having a vision of the future is also critical. The vision must be specific, compelling, and a stretch. The vision to create change is necessary; a worthy vision leads by itself and creates a spontaneous desire which serves as a key driver. That spontaneous desire must be managed, and the tool which allows for management is the Criteria for Performance Excellence.

To move an organization, leaders must focus on the top priorities. Determining the most important outcomes and then focusing on those outcomes helps move an organization toward sustained organizational excellence. No more than 6-8 priorities and aligned systems with the defined outcomes.

Success with a Baldrige-based award program has led other business units to help in their own pursuits of excellence.

Sustainment of the implementation of Baldrige-based organizational leadership and management can not occur if this organizational initiative is limited to some QA department.

The Criteria is comprehensive in nature and provided the answer to many issues with regard to problems with audits, compliance, and customer satisfaction.

The Holy Grail: No, not blogs

Holy Trinity of Blogging
Originally uploaded by Pat Law
Here's a recurring theme: "Finding best practices; real bang for the buck in benchmarkings, is not in getting the data, but rather in implementing the information or practices discovered."

Blogging the Sterling :: An 8th category?

As if the Baldrige didn’t have enough “stuff” in it, the Sterling folks have decided to add another category: Communications.

Like we need another category. Like a hole in the head.

Okay, this is actually a thought exercise, but I'll play along.

This is from one of the breakout sessions: Communication: Sterling Category 8 by Robert Elliott. Most of the session was about communication, in general.

Communication, a process that uses verbal or visual symbols, signs, or behaviors to create shared comprehension. Key words: process; symbols or signs; shared comprehension.

Getting the right message to the right people at the right time (to create shared comprehension).

Interesting that the presented mental model of communications includes feedback. Without feedback from the receiver to the sender, we’re unsure if the message has been received. An aside: A blog without comments, is only one-way communications; it is an open cycle. Comments close the cycle of communications. Sitting down with a reader also closes the cycle of communication.

Dr. Elliott suggests that all communication is driven by change and the key change is a desire to improve communication. If, when searching for a root cause, you determine that the performance gap is ineffective communication, then need to communicate, to change how people feel, what people think and know, what people do.

Easy and cheap is usually the way we try to send messages. In truth need to segment the audience so that they receive the best style of communication for their needs.

Okay, so what's with the new category?

8.1 Communication Development
How do you develop your messages and measure their effectiveness.
Describe HOW your organization develops messages so that they reach key audiences, using appropriate media, and HOW the messages themselves are developed. Describe HOW your organization measures the effectiveness of communications.

8.2 Communication Management
Describe HOW your organization addresses key organizational messages of importance, and HOW effective communication is supported throughout the organization.
What'ya think?

Blogging the Sterling :: Networks are the future

iSchools Hiring Network
Originally uploaded by anikarenina
One of Admiral Allen's comments almost flew under the radar, at least for me. He noted that he's very interested in the "science of networks, the emerging science of network theory." He went so far as to say we must "understand this if we are to move forward."

Okay, so maybe it wasn't really under the radar. ;-)

So what is this science of networks? I thought maybe there'd be something on the Commandant's Reading List; couldn't find it, but it turns out there is a book by Albert-Laszlo Barabasi: Linked: The New Science of Networks.

Since I don't have the book, I did the next best thing: Google.

Here's a the lede to a review at
Albert-Laszlo Barabasi's book on the theory of networks shows that networks (social network of friends, the web's five billion websites, the biological food chain, business and commerce, the growth of cities, intra-cellular proteins, and so on) can be quantified and described with the same type of mathematical laws. These different types of networks share the same properties. By understanding how networks function and grow, one can develop strategies to take advantage of that growth.
Andreas has done a great job highlighting the high points.

Here's a bit more from The Science Show's The New Science of Networks. Or try NetWiki, a "space for collecting data and collaborating on research about complex networks and applications of network science." Or a little something from Amsterdam.

And then, across my RSS reader, came this jewel from APQC: The Growing Popularity of Social Networking and Expertise Location.
Inside organizations, social networking tools are often used to enhance communication among employees. Staff members leverage social networking applications to learn more about each other, including background information such as job histories and personal interests. When employees have access to this kind of detailed data, conversations become more valuable. Some organizations also employ social networking to help identify experts in specific topic areas.
Time to get onboard. Time to learn more.

Blogging the Sterling :: Another Baldrige-as-a-system model

While Admiral Allen is a Baldrige Burger guy, here's another model, this one by Mark Graham Brown as seen in The Pocket Guide to the Baldrige Award Criteria - 14th Edition and Baldrige Award Winning Quality -- 17th Edition: How to Interpret the Baldrige Criteria for Performance Excellence.

I find that this model goes over well with engineers as its a little more linear and a little less theoretical.

As Admiral Allen noted today, "The Criteria is a model. No model is perfect. A model is an approximation of reality and provides an opportunity to understand the world."

Blogging the Sterling :: The current, and future, state of culture

Admiral Allen's keynote was videotaped; I'm told the plan is to get it online for everyone to view. In the meantime, here's more, as filtered through my eyes.

We live in a transparent society. There is a ubiquity of information which has become a part of our organizational profile, like it or not.

One of Admiral Allen's primary goals: Not to reorganize, but for the Coast Guard to become a change centric organization... which, in part, involves learning how to learn again. And, we must become not only individuals who learn, but an organization that learns.

And, those who are coming behind us have different cognitive styles. It's not just traditional generational differences. It has to do with differing cognitive styles, and it's not as simple as when you were born...

A related issue: being able to handle change, to embrace change, to surf through change rather than to be battled by wind and waves. For many of the Coast Guard's mid-level managers, this change is difficult.

One of the change issues facing not only the Coast Guard, but all organizations today, is that the young people today don't join organizations. They Facebook and MySpace and whatever. We are in a new era where human endeavor is organized differently than what we imagined growing up. We organize and affinitize ourselves with those who share the same interests and passions and missions, but those coming behind us are organizing and affinitizing themselves in networks, not organizations.

Blogging the Sterling :: Eat this burger, why don't you?

Admiral Allen brought his hand-drawn copy of the infamous Baldrige Burger with him to his keynote. When he walked out, I noticed he was carrying papers; I thought he'd fallen and couldn't get up... er, was going to read his speech.

I need not have worried. The papers were merely his burger he'd brought to use as a mental model.

One of my colleagues tells the story about presenting training about the Criteria for Performance Excellence in Miami years ago. During the instruction, he showed the Baldrige Burger, and one of the class participants said, "Hey, I've seen that before. It's in Admiral Allen's office on his white board." At the time, Admiral Allen was the D7 commander.

Admiral Allen was out of the building, so someone in the class with connections was able to get the class into his office. Indeed, there was the burger, along with notes atop each criteria box. The admiral was using the mental model to help him manage and lead.

And he still does.

Noted Admiral Allen, if you go back and look at all the CIAOs, all the categories in the Criteria are covered.

Blogging the Sterling :: On the history of the Coast Guard

The Coast Guard is an "Aquatic holding company" where both the Executive and Legislative branches of government have said, "If it’s wet, give it to the Coast Guard."

We trace the Coast Guard's birth to 1790, but the conception, says Admiral Allen, was three years prior with the publication of Federalist Paper Number 12 wherein Alexander Hamilton wrote, "A few armed vessels, judiciously stationed at the entrances of our ports, might at a small expense be made useful sentinels of the laws."

The Coast Guard has accumulated missions over its history with the last major accumulation being the marine safety mission during World War II.

Notes Admiral Allen, the value proposition the Coast Guard makes is that "we provide a number of services with people and platforms who are multi-mission. We have ships that can do five things rather than five ships that can each do one thing."

Blogging the Sterling :: Admiral Allen on the future of the Coast Guard

According to Admiral Allen (or at least my rough notes from his keynote this morning) "Change is coming; not a tsunami," but the change will change the landscape. And, change has become constant.

What is true in one instance, is not necessarily true the next. One of the changes coming (or perhaps it has already arrived) is transparency and the ubiquitous of information.

Blogging the Sterling :: Get your own copy of the Criteria for Performance Excellence

Ever wonder if the Coast Guard has an organizational management and leadership framework? Okay, perhaps you haven't wondered, but the answer is nonetheless a resounding Yes.

The Coast Guard's organizational management and leadership framework is the Criteria for Performance Excellence. Want to check it out? You can send a quick email off to NIST with your name and address, and they'll ship a copy of the Criteria straight-away to you.

Blogging the Sterling :: The face of the Coast Guard: Admiral Allen

So says the CEO of the Sterling Council. I think that’s likely accurate, at least on the macro level. But the face of the Coast Guard is also those four young men who served as the color guard: young, junior petty officers who are dedicated to serve.

Blogging the Sterling :: Is it the economy?

I heard that the numbers of attendees this year are down. Last year there were more than 1200 attendees. This year there are some 600 or 700 attendees. I doubt the reason is because of the value of the conference, but more of an indicator of the current state of economy.

Oh, that doesn't bode well...

Blogging the Sterling :: A charge to take something home

The theme for this year’s Sterling Conference is “the competitive advantage.” And carrying on the patriotic theme, there’s acknowledgment that the economy is in a slump. When one of the first comments by a speaker is the cost of gas, you know we’re in a recession, even if the economists and pundits and talking heads don’t yet know it.

We are charged to implement one best practice or improvement strategy following the conference. This is, in truth, the crux of knowledge management: inculcate proven practices throughout an organization. And, indeed, if there’s nothing gained for the organization by attending conferences such as this, what’s the use?

Blogging the Sterling :: The conference opens: From sea to shining sea

Here in Orlando. Warm. Humid. And the start of the Sterling Conference is, indeed, Vegas or Branson-like.

The color guard from Sector Jacksonsville looks pretty sharp, and have to endure standing at post during not only the Pledge of Allegiance and the National Anthem but a medley of patriotic songs sung by Orlando-talent. America the Beautiful.

Complete with video that matches the lyrics. Sea to shining sea. Well, you get the idea. It’s a patriotic love fest.

Delayed live blogging: Is this actually dead blogging?

Here at the 16th Annual Sterling Council Conference. As per usual, wifi issues: not available at the actual conference site. I'll be drafting and then posting later.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Great SEVEN HABITS slideshow

Use as a course review.

Or as a renewal session.

Or as an course introduction.

Or as a teaser to get people to come to the course.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Annual HPT Workshop dates set

Training Center Yorktown's Performance Technology Center (PTC) will host its Eighth Annual Human Performance Technology (HPT) Workshop 3-5 September, 2008 in Williamsburg, Virginia.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

KM blogging: Looks like the Army is battling it out with State

I still have a slew of notes from last week to transcribe into posts here, but I wanted to highlight an article I saw over in World Politics Review, a foreign policy and national security daily, Internet Connects Future Army Leaders with Virtual 'Front Porch' by David Axe.

If I thought the State Department had skinned some of the KM cat, then it's for certain the Army is skinning the rest of it.

Here's the lede:

It was a decades-old Army tradition that junior officers would eat lunch together every day in Army-run dining halls. There they would trade ideas they'd picked up in their training. But in the last decade, to save money, contractors such as Kellogg, Brown and Root have replaced the old dining halls with civilian-style cafeterias, some boasting big-screen TVs. The officers stopped gathering . . . and stopped talking. That had the effect of isolating young leaders, preventing them from getting answers to life-and-death questions -- and from sharing their own answers they might have learned the hard way.
This is all about knowledge management, and how to suck that tacit knowledge out of one brain and transplant it into another.
Although they would never agree with the term, today [Lieutenant Colonels Tony] Burgess and [Pete] Kilner function as insurgents in the heart of the Army's intellectual citadel. To supplement a meager budget, they raise their own money by publishing books. Instead of just publishing forums, they have quietly taken on new projects, including interactive, video-based ethics training for cadets. Though their methods are unconventional, they stress that their values are strictly in line with the larger Army's. "If our values weren't in line with the institution's, we'd have been crushed -- and rightly so," Kilner said.

That the Army hasn't crushed the forums speaks to the service's comparative progressiveness when it comes to the Internet. The Air Force, a lead agency for "cyberwarfare," has taken a defensive stance, even blocking access on its official networks to many popular websites. One Coast Guard admiral in March blamed the Internet for unfairly spreading bad news about that service's shipbuilding programs. The Navy, too, has struggled with the democratic nature of sites authored by sailors. A blog published aboard the U.S.S. Russell destroyer several times has run afoul of the Navy public affairs apparatus.

West Point cadets, who grew up with computers as constant companions, stress that forums really aren't as new and strange as some in the military seem to believe. "Everybody tells stories. Everybody learns from stories," said Cole Moses, a senior who this year will enter the Army as an infantry officer. "This just makes it easier."
Encouraging ways to share knowledge... why, there's a novel idea.

Saturday, May 03, 2008

KM blogging: How to make an organization "cool"

Yesterday, the morning kick-off keynote speech was from Jeremy Gutsche, founder of, a young, upstart, trend-spotting entrepreneur.

Here's his basic Unlocking Cool ppt. Watch it, and know that you might be getting some of the info, you're not getting to see the knowledge residing in Mr. Gutsche.

Absolutely amazing.

We ought to get Mr. Gutsche to speak at the next Coast Guard Innovation Expo.

Friday, May 02, 2008

KM blogging: Another Japanese term in the performance excellence realm

Here's another term from the Japanese: Ba.

What is ba? Ba is "shared context in motion," or "time and space in which we create knowledge."

Check out Naoki Ogiwara's presentation, Three 'Ba' Based Japanese KM Approaches--How Successful Japanese KM Companies Share Context to Create Their Unique Value.

KM blogging: Effectiveness of communities of practice

There were so many good break-out sessions, I didn't get the chance to attend them all. One that I missed was with Carol Csanda from State Farm Insurance: The Effectiveness of Communities of Practice; From Anecdotes to Evidence. There were a couple of nuggets in the handout I thought were worth mentioning here.

First, I was struck by State Farm's definition of a "knoweldge community." They define a knowledge community as

A community is a group of people with a common interest in a topic and a commitment to share and a apply their knowledge for business benefit.
Recognized knowledge communities have three characteristics:
  • Leadership from within the community
  • Sponsorship from an area/program/office within the corporation
  • May use collaboration tools for knowledge sharing
The benefits they's discovered at State Farm are four-fold. Communities:
  • Facilitate best practice transfer and knowledge sharing
  • Foster collaboration and innovation
  • Accelerate learning
  • Provide opportunity to network
I know many might suggest we have informal communities in the Coast Guard that look like this, but I think what we're missing is the organizational sponsorship and the tools for knowledge sharing. We're so ad hoc now there's no way to direct things from a macro or enterprise perspective.

Here's another thing that I think is valuable to take a look at. It's from a literature review asking What predicts virtual team effectiveness? Ms. Csanda suggests there are four items which might predict virtual team effectiveness:
  • Clarity of objectives
  • Communications
  • Face to face meetings
  • Montoring team health by leaders.
Great stuff that reminds me technology is important, but it really is about relationships between people. People, not technology.

KM blogging: No more live

With the APQC KM Conference put to bed, I guess I can't say that future posts about the conference are live. But, there are more posts to come. The week was overwhelming with information; the object now is to turn some of that information into action.

Live KM blogging from someone else: Measuring the Impact of Knowledge Management

Aside from the KMEdge blog, there is at least one other person who has been live blogging. Dale Arseneault, a KM professional from that country to the north of us, posted on his blog Reflections on Knowledge Management and Organizational Innovation an insightful post, Measuring the Impact of Knowledge Management, about his learnings from one of the pre-conference workshops here in Chicago.

Live KM blogging: Changing organizational culture when it comes to knowledge management

Over at AN UNOFFICIAL COAST GUARD BLOG, Kennebec Captain commented on my post Cross-posted: Department of State blows away the Coast Guard when it comes to using social networking tools for KM. Wrote the Kennebec Captain:

Wikis and blogs used as you described are powerful tool that likely greatly improve effectiveness and efficiency. The Coast Guard however is a military organization that is highly hierarchical and the culture of the officer corps has a strong focus on the careerist standard. My guess is that wikis would be largely ineffective in such and environment.
This raises a very pertinent question: How does an organization change its cutlure so that knowledge management, knowledge transfer, knowledge sharing can take place.

Someone here yesterday, and for the life of me I can't think of who it was, talked about this. Perhaps it was Carla O'Dell. Anyway, the point was this: you can't say, "Let's change the culture." What needs to be done is to change behaviors and practices. And how that happens is by people modeling the behavior we want to see. We change the culture by changing what we do.

One of the things I've been trying to do with the family of sites is to model the behavior I'd like to see. In the past, I've called it transparency, but I think it's actually more than that. It's knowledge management, too.

If the "careerist standard" is going to hold the Coast Guard back, then we need to change that culture and that expectation. We do that, I suggest, by modeling the behavior we want; we do that by sometimes pushing the envelop and making the organization uncomfortable.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Live KM Blogging: Department of State blows away the Coast Guard when it comes to using social networking tools for KM and PA

Stand by for heavy rolls.

This afternoon, members of the Department of State's Office of eDiplomacy presented a superb presentation about the use of social network/Web 2.0 tools for knowledge management: Making It Happen: KM at the Working Level (and up).

They put the Coast Guard to shame, at least when it comes to using IT tools for knowledge management.

First, a couple of stats about the Department of State. 57,000 employees. 268 locations. Big bureaucracy.

Their knowledge management goal: Enable employees to access and contribute knowledge anywhere, anytime.

They modeled their efforts on common elements of successful knowledge management efforts:

  • Collaboration through self-forming, self-managing, technology enabled communities.
  • Better access to expertise.
  • Better access to information.
  • Technology to make knowledge sharing part of daily workflow.
  • 4-5 years of effort to gain solid footing.
  • Continuity of leadership from the top.
They've implemented four specific tools which form a platform for knowledge management.
  • Enterprise search.
  • Internal blogs, known as Communities @ State.
  • Wiki, known as Diplopedia.
  • Collaboration Clearinghouse, which enhances SharePoint as a base.
The great thing about what they're doing is that the tools are readily available for federal agencies. The Enterprise Search is, I think, from Google; more on Google tools in a later post. The blogs and the wiki platforms are Intelink/Passport tools that are available to any federal agency.

None of the blogs & wiki articles are available on the Internet. This is not a public affairs initiative; this is a knowledge management initiative. Much of the material is available from any .gov or .mil domain (or when signed in to Intelink/Passport); all the UNCLAS material is on the Department's Intranet. All classified material is on the high side.

The Enterprise Search incorporates all known sites, and it deep links to the sites. The search capability indexes key repositories (and includes all official cables).

As to the blogs, more than 50 blogs are online. They include regional offices as well as functional work areas. More than 800 authors contribute to Communities @ State and there are more than 13,000 entires over the past three years. Blogs can be established by anyone, but the requester needs to fill out a form which guides the requester in terms of strategic intention. Blogs must have at least two primary contributors; blogs will not be established for a single person.

And then there's the wiki, Diplopedia. It is, they say, "The most successful online collaborative publishing effort ini State's history." In the last 18 months, they've has 700 registered editors/authors, 3,500 articles, and more than 430,00 page views.

Not that they haven't had some bumps in the road. At one point, one office complained about some outdated information that had been posted to Diplopedia. They hadn't put the information on the wiki, and the info was dated. The good folks at eDiplomacy did a little research and discovered that the wiki author had used information straight from the complaining office's website. The reply from the office, "Yeah, we know that information we posted is outdated; we're going to get it changed in a couple of months."

Anyone in the Department of State can be a registered editor. One of the cultural changes that the Department is moving toward is that knowledge and information doesn't belong to one person or group within the Department.

The fourth tool is one they're still working to build, a collaboration clearinghouse. This tool has been designed in order to manage enterprise SharePoint deployment, to ensure that silos don't get rebuilt.

Here are the take-aways. These are enterprise-wide programs, but rely on local adoption. The initiatives engage the full range of the Department's work and subject matter. Working level employees initiate activities and maintain them because they see it to their own benefit. And, finally, senior leaders support the efforts, but they leave space (and provide cover) for experimentation and flexibility.

Can we do this in the Coast Guard, please.

What say you, gentle reader?

Live KM blogging: Does knowledge exist outside of living things?

Here's question for you: Does knowledge exist outside of living things?

Data can exist on paper or in a computer.

Some people have suggested there is a growing de-physicalization of knowledge; I'd suggest, however, that this isn't knowledge but merely data or, perhaps, information.

"Knowledge," says Larry Prusak, "is within people."

True knowledge is not outside the physical world.

I'm reminded of MIT's effort to put all their course materials, including lectures, online for everyone to see. The lectures, the stuff online, isn't knowledge, it is merely information. This is why we still pay to attend face-to-face colleges and universities. True learning, true gaining knowledge, isn't about watching a computer screen. Knowledge happens when you get a chance to integrate what you know and make it useful.

What think you, gentle reader?

Live KM blogging: And speaking of the CKO

I had an interesting conversation with a few KM professionals here at the conference about where a Chief Knowledge Officer might fall within the organizational line diagram.

The Coast Guard's CKO is in CG-6. I think.

When the CKO is home in the information technology world, then the CKO has a technology focus. And knowledge management is not all about IT. Sure, there's an IT component in KM, but that's not all there is to KM.

In some organizations, the CKO is the HR world; CG-1 for the Coast Guard.

In other organizations, the CKO is in the performance management realm; that would put it in CG-0931.


Well, gentle reader, where do you think the CKO ought to reside within the Coast Guard organization?

Live KM blogging: A Knowledge Management "Maturity Model"

Here's a little something Carla O'Dell shared with us today: a KM Maturity Model. When Dr. O'Dell presented it, the model was pretty; this will be pretty plain.

LEVEL I: Initiate :: Growing awareness

{{ Ad hock knowledge }}

LEVEL II: Develop :: Localized & repeatable practices

{{ Applied knowledge }}

LEVEL III: Standardize :: Common processes & approaches

{{ Enabled knowledge }}

LEVEL IV: Optimize :: Measured & Adaptive

{{ Scalable knowledge }}

LEVEL V: Innovate :: Continuously improving practices

So, where do you think the Coast Guard, as an enterprise organization, is?

I'm thinking we mgiht be a Level III organization when it comes to knowledge management, although I don't think that's from anything the CKO's organization has done for us.