Monday, March 14, 2005

This is the ninth weekly update in my "irregular" communications to ADWP

From Anonymous:


Sue Seestrom, who received a bit of an unfair roasting on the blog a few weeks ago, has sent out another AWDP communications, complete with a wry reference to the blog. She was perhaps ill-advised last time to tell us all, via a somewhat smarmy allegory to "get our heads back in the game", but let's just chalk that up to inexperience on her part (unless she does it again). A couple of interesting tidbits below.

Dear Colleagues-

This is the ninth weekly update in my "irregular" communications to ADWP. I hope that this note conveys to you the importance I place upon communication. I see a large part of my job as enabling your work. I hope that my attempt at openness in communication will encourage you to communicate back - either through your management chain or directly to me. I am pleased that I have received a number of emails from people I had not spoken to before as a result of this message.

Have a productive and safe week!

You mention that 5 people were added. Isn't there a hiring freeze in place?
Sue, Unfortunately your "Quality Points of Contact" are all overpaid brown-nosing stuffed shirts, and no more than that! If these are your foundation pieces in the determination of "non-compliance" in keeping with the audit, then we are all doomed to a worse fate.
Interesting that CCS has added 5 new people when they have been losing TSM staff left and right over the last couple of years due to the problems of plagiarism, travel privilege abuses, and waste in that division.
The comment of 7:21 AM is what we call a "poison pen letter". Unless, of course the poster can provide some proof of the allegations. I bet he can't.
Re: 7:21am post

I work with the wife of an ADWP manager and Federal investigators did visit this person late last year. My co-worker was asked about her husband's travel to France and possible liasons there. She was crying and sobbing, saying that there was possible travel fraud and security infractions. According to her, he is still travelling once a month to France.
To 7:34 post

Mush I say. Face the facts that there is waste at LANL. Mush I say. Put your head out of the sand.
The tone of the comments on AD Seestrom's message are overwhelmingly negative, and personal.
Any organization as large as WP will have some personnel problems -- and some disenfrancised employees. The suggestion that anyone that works for Susan, or is a Point of Contact, is scum is totally outrageous. Has the blog sunk to the level that anonymous venom can be spewed and pass for "fact"? Stick to the facts and issues:

(1) LANL has a crisis -- the lab was put in an unstable environment by Nanos taking unprecidented actions. I can't believe that Nanos had any idea how much he was endangering Los Alamos when he started down the path. however, he has chosen to *lead* by intimindation. He has circled the wagons and ordered all to shoot inward.
How do we get out of the crisis? Starts at the top -- leadership that has vision, understanding, and represents los alamos.

(2) The political winds that demand the UC rebid. These forces are not intellectual -- they are basal. Hobson and his cronies want LANL downsized, run like a factory, and savings passed on to other "more worthy" projects (anything with Battelle in the lead).

(3) Getting work done at Lanl.

None of the real issues are related to Seestrom's choice of words, how she sends her email, or if she is a *toady*. CCS is not the subject of a manhunt for spies or waste fraud and abuse. Just because a person is a group leader, division leader, OR EVEN an Associate Director does not make them the enemy.
OK. I'll give Sue the benefit of doubt. She needed "Buck Tape" real bad in that last "irregular" communications. Much more professional this time.

Sue, just remember: staff has feelings too. Before inserting foot in mouth, apply Buck Tape to mouth liberally.
To 10:58AM: "Just because a person is a group leader, division leader, OR EVEN an Associate Director does not make them the enemy."

Pardon me, but if they repeatedly demonstrate moral and ethical turpitude in both personal and professional character during and after work hours, then they are the enemy. Amazing how these people are promoted and sustained in the highest levels of office.
1:18 is acting exactly in the way to make the blog ineffective. The comment before was justbecause a person is a ....
does not make them the enemy. But 1:18 speaks with indignation that "if they repeatedly demonstrate moral and ethical turpitude in both personal and professional character during and after work hours, then they are the enemy. ". Well, guess what -- you are right, but most managers are not the pigs you paint them as. There are bad managers to be sure -- and bad TSMs, and bad SSMs, and bad KSL folks. The tone that is taken here is that if a person is a manager they must be a toady. That simply is not the case. I a struck by the Animal Farm nature of some responders - anyone in *power* is corrprut. Yet, a manager is not in power -- I think that this type of comment says much more about the writer than the subject managers.

Again, the issues of importance are the lab issues. This blog has been really good raising concerns and ideas. However, personal attacks on classes of people, or certain managers, reduces the forum to a low moral level. I am not defending Nanos - I want him fired. I am not defending Seestrom -- I see her occassionally, but I am in no position to judge her ability. But I am pointing out that the *class* called managers is not inherently the enemy.
Thank you, 2:41 PM poster. You demonstrate that the blog is comprised of contributers who are willing to correct problems created by other, less principled (or perhaps just less mature) posters.
Agreed with the two previous. 1:18 demonstrates exactly the behavior we all dislike from Nanos: using intrigues and star chamber accusations to take out other people for your own protection and advancement.

We need to replace Nanos with ethics and above-board conduct, not a different flavor of backstabbing.
The continuing thread discussing both this message and the previous message from Seestrom amply demonstrate the impact that Nanos is having on the entire management chain. He is poisonous, his flaws and failures are dragging everyone down with them. The Blog is no exception. The attacks on otherwise good and decent people are driven by the overwhelmingly negative actions and resulting emotions that are running rampant at the Lab. Everything and anything that supports the Director is viewed as propaganda and a de-facto lie. This is because the Director almost completely lacks credibility within the rank-and-file of LANL.

Sue’s situation is particularly problematic because the DX-3 debacle happened in her directorate, under her watch. Thus, she is a co-conspirator in the destruction of a number of people’s lives and careers. When the opportunity arose to make amends for the over-reaction to the never-missing-CREM, Sue stood silent. It seems that she should have resigned rather than continue to take part in the continuing lie. Of course, Sue is just one of many who have de-facto allowed this situation to continue, but she’s the one who had line authority over DX-3. Blood is on her hands, that’s where some of the anger expressed in the Blog comes from. In my opinion the failure of Pete to admit fault in his actions when the facts became known was the final straw for him. Until that time Pete was just some incompetent ex-admiral who got in way over his head. After that he became a malicious force that threatens the existence of this institution. The truth probably is that he had already crossed the line a long time before. In looking at the actions taken during the stand-down, Pete understood fully how wrong he was early on and then engaged in a cover-up. The inflated “charges” against staff that resulting in their terminations was the tool used to cover-up his manifest incompetence.

A manager must choose to either follow their people or follow Pete. At the level of group leader, my experience is that most choose their staff, at the division level most choose duplicity and at the AD level and above it is Pete. This may simply reflect with whom the managers spend their time. The result is the corrosion of the coherence and honesty institution-wide. If one interacts with staff, supporting Pete is the path towards the loss of the Staff’s respect and being the laughing stock of those you are supposed to “lead”. At the AD level one has to tow the line, or Pete will take your head off (metaphorically of course!). The Division level is stuck in the middle.

The problem is that every time the management implements one of Pete’s edicts their credibility takes a hit. Each manager has a finite amount of credibility. You either earn it or spend it. Pete has spent all of his, he is in a severe deficit and he is borrowing it from the management chain. The ADs are out and now he’s tapping into the Division Office’s reserves. When he’s done there, it’s the group leaders. If this happens the wheels will come off of the entire institution.

The thing I don’t know is whether anyone in the upper part of the management chain actually realizes the depth of the crisis. If we could actually have an honest discussion with them, what would we hear?
The real issue here is senior management competence. Enlightened corporate CEOs, like Jack Welch, developed a leadership development program to mentor and grow leaders from within the organization. It takes years of experience in several positions within the corporation for an executive to gain "rank" and move up the corporate management chain. In each position of higher responsibility, the manager/executive is evaluated and promoted only after proving their competence and potential for success in the next higher level postion. This is not a speedy process. Now let's discuss Ms. Seestrom.

Having arrived LANL in the summer of 1997, I met Ms Seestrom as the Deputy Group Leader in P-23. Ms. Seestrom seemed outspoken and certainly wasn't without opinions on lots of issues; most (from my observation) not having to do with her group. It is my opinion, LANL did a disservice to Ms. Seestrom in promoting her to AD in less than EIGHT years.
Being a DGL and being an AD are very different management and political arenas requiring vastly different skill sets.
The corporate world recognizes the need to mentor internal managers into increasingly higher levels typically over a career. The exception is made for external hires where this mentoring and senior executive development has taken place in other organizations.
I like Ms. Seestrom personally, but consider her meteoric rise to AD as a clear example of one of the most significant weaknesses in LANL. We need technically competent senior executives; that's true. However, we should not discount the time and experience necessary for technically competent managers to learn how to handle the senior executive ropes with finesse and political savy. Without an intentional management to senior executive development pipeline, LANL will suffer senior managers without the requisite skills and experience to function at the EB-level or be forever importing external leadership talent with its inherent risks, agendas, and potential lack of loyalty to the Institution.
She was on the slow train compared to now Acting Deputy ADSR Devaurs.
To 10:34 Post,

You got right to the root of the problem. Very insightful. Good senior managers are developed by mentoring and career development assignments, and this takes time, except for a very few exceptional people.

Your post should be required reading for EB level staff.
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