Thursday, February 10, 2005

Noise-to-signal Ratio

From Anonymous:

I hear the noise-to-signal ratio climbing here.

I was very pleased to see this forum but I hate to see us
chew each other up while the problems continue.

I'm a 25 year staff member at LANL and I knew
Chris Mechels personally before and after he
left the lab. He had some legitimate beefs AND
he was prone to hystrionics. If he's posting here,
more power to him, most of us know how to
ignore his wild overstatements and listen for the
gems of truth that we know are substantiated.

When Nanos came "on board" lots of people gave
him the benefit of the doubt and applauded his
"tight ship" approach. He seemed like someone
who could help turn some of our problems around.
I was reluctantly hopeful.

I've been on the wrong end of too many "cowboy"
and "butthead" actions by my peers to say that Nanos
was completely wrong in those statements. Unfortunately
most of those "cowboys" and "buttheads" got promoted
through the years and are now peppering the middle
and upper management positions.

Nanos himself was *hired in* by one of these types and
he *had to know* how egregious this person's behavior
was, yet when he was promoted to LANL director, he kept
this unnamed person on in the very same position despite
clear bad behaviour and numerous complaints filed
against him.

I don't know that Nanos was hired to, or directed to
destroy staff morale, but his actions this year have
generally been very effective at that.

Yes, we have huge problems, but I don't believe Nanos did
anything to improve them by shutting us down, by overreacting,
by "dressing everyone down" in public, by never admitting he had
overreacted or made a mistake or acted out his own role in
what he himself calls "a culture of arrogance".

I continue to try to do my job the very best I can, I try to
take (yet more) seriously all aspects of safety and security,
not because I believe we were not attending properly to them
before but because I understand that we are under a microscope
and because "appearances" are currently more important
than reality.

I believe that UC was complicit in many of our problems but
so was DOE and every one of us. I want UC to keep this contract
and I *don't* want a "Halliburton" to take it. Part of this is
selfish. I like the deal I have as a UC employee and expect to like
what is offered by someone else a lot less. But also I think UC
can and does offer as good of management as we are going to

Let's help UC keep this contract and help them fix our
problems, starting by cleaning house *from the top down* instead
"bottom up" as Vice-admiral Pete thought he needed to do.

Pete can go first and at least one, probably more AD's. I'd call that
a "good start".

Well said. Someone needs to clean house with the ADs at the Lab -- the problem isn't just with Pete. Who wants to see Don Cobb become director?! Now there's a scary scenario. Most of the ADs are a bunch of lying, cover-their-ass, self-promoters who protect and hire their friends. Most have no professional management experience and it shows. Does anyone ever see these people visit our offices and workbenches to see what we're working on? Do they ever take a stroll down our halls to say hello and interact with the average lab worker? Most of these ADs have their noses stuck way too far up their superiors' backsides and in Washington to pay attention to what's going on in the ranks below. I wish UC would come to understand these problems and take some action to deal with them.
The above illustrates well the problem with our management. Our director exhibits no awareness of being part of *this* organization. From his willingness to frag his own people to his inability to live as he likes on "half a group leader's salary," he is not the leader we deserve. We need someone who's ambitions are in Los Alamos, not someone yearning for glory days in Washington. Only then will we get real problems solved instead of stacks of paper "proving" we're doing something.
These clueless dolts in upper management are the masters of *SPIN*. Its really a ship of fools.
To help with the visuals, you need to think of the SET, EB, or whatever they call themselves, as "Pete's Puppets". That way when you see them, you can smile as you think of the jerky limb and head movements through the attached strings.
Don't be too surprised if UC's action is a decision not to bid.
I think much of the younger staff would welcome UC's departure. With one of the Regents having said last July he wanted to "fire us all," I won't miss these assassins.
Don't be surprised if DOE decides to reissue the RFP if UC doesn't have any real competitors in the running.

I agree that Nanos has become the ultimate model for his 'culture of arrogance' and demonstrated the military standard of RHIP - Rank Has Its Privileges. When you're at the top it's difficult to see that you've overloaded the latrine with your own flotsam and apparently even more difficult to admit it .
UC has a good chance at winning the contract, it now has at least 2 industrial partners signed on and the deal is favored by DOE. How the partition of the employees will happen is anyone's guess but the industrial partners will probably help the UC prevent egregious management misteps that have plagued us in the recent past. Hint: BWXT has an office in the Research Park.
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