Friday, April 15, 2005

Beason Announces Acting Deputy Associate Director for Bioscience


Please post the news item below anonymously. I find the management action described below to be abhorent! Dr. Schwade was a finalist for the B Division leader position, however, he was not the chosen candidate. AD Beason's decision to promote him to a newly created DAD position after not being chosen to lead B Division is mind numbing.

Here is the recently released article:

Beason Announces Acting Deputy Associate Director for Bioscience

Associate Director for Threat Reduction Douglas Beason today announced the appointment of Nathan Schwade as the acting deputy associate director for biosciences. Formerly serving as acting Bioscience Division leader, key elements of Schwade's new role will include working with the other divisions on TR-wide science and technology strategic planning, as well as new facilities, the Biosafety Level 3 facility and customer outreach. He will assume his new role Monday, April 18.

Beason said of his new advisor, "It is an important role that I have in mind for Nathan, as bioscience at our laboratory is ready for a new strategic role within Threat Reduction. Nathan's assistance in developing that role and incorporating it into the overall Threat Reduction strategic plans for the future will be invaluable."

Schwade earned a B.S. degree in Biology from Texas A&M University in 1988. In 1995 he earned a doctorate in the multidisciplinary Medical Sciences program with a major in Medical Pharmacology and Toxicology. After a two-year postdoctoral fellowship at Southwestern Medical Center in the Department of Otolaryngology Head and Neck Surgery, he was appointed as an instructor and then promoted to assistant professor. In 2002 Nathan was named director of research for the department. His responsibilities included all of the basic science and clinical research studies in the department. In 2003 he joined Los Alamos and almost immediately assumed the acting division leader role for bioscience.

I don't understand the nature of the objection. Does the poster feel that Dr. Schwade is not qualified for the position, or that the need for a new deputy associate director position is questionable? Or is the objection to something else regarding the announcement that I missed?
Two points. First, why have a Deputy AD for Bioscience overseeing basically the Bioscience Division? The probably reason is that Doug Beason can't pronounce Bacillus anthracis or Botchulinum clostridium but whatever the reason this is one of the more egregious examples of duplicative and unnecessary layering that I have ever seen. Second, how, as the poster stated, can a person passed over for a subordinate position suddenly be raised to an even more senior position? This smacks of a Cobb decision.
Nor do I.

One might suppose that being a finalist but not being chosen for director of B implies some significant lacking on Schwade's part.

One might instead suppose that Dr. Schwade was not the "best fit" for the division director but still a good candidate for "strategic advisor".

Schwade's background implies relative youth but significant vigor, focus and technical excellence (though in no way guarantees it). He might not be "mature" enough yet to run a division but that might actually make him an asset as a "strategic advisor" to Beason.

It is also possible that he was NOT chosen as director of B specifically because they wanted to use him in this other capacity.

Why is this abhorent?

I suppose if I thought that Beason was incompetent and was deliberately lining his nest with "yes men" or rewarding political favors, I would find it abhorent too. I might think that of many others in upper management and Beason might be (nearly) as bad as many of the others... but then again he might not. Time might tell.

PS. In the spirit of Doug Roberts comments about noontime posting, etc... I am in another timezone where all the cafes have wireless access for (my personal) Mac laptop.
The latest Beason decision regarding the D division leadership (Rao) is also highly questionable. The "press release" did not mention "leadership" even though this is a leadership position.

I am coming to believe that our hopes that Beason is better than the other AD's and DD's is unfounded.
The D Divisoon postion again has Cobb's fingerprints on it. The screening committee only had two folks from D Division.
I have never heard Rao being accused of leadership. "Self-interest" is the word usually associated with him.
I am so impressed with the posters to this blog -- they always know who is competent and not. The posters always know that decisions are made on the basis of "yes" men (and women!). The posters always know what a division leader is suppose to do, and what a deputy AD does.

In fact, this is the same old same old on this blog.
All managers are not bad, and all decisions are not based on kiss ups.

Rao is an excellent choice for division leader. He has an excellent technical record, and very institutional in his thinking about how to get work done. I suppose along the way he has ticked off some under performing TSM, hence the message that Rao is all about "self interest".

Schwade was asked to do an incredibly difficult job. The search committee decided he was not the best choice to lead the disfunctional B division. this does not mean he is incompetent to provide technical leadership on issues like the BSL 3.

By the way, I believe that Beason does know how to say "anthrax" -- I wonder if the ignorant poster at 01:23 knows how to pronounce leadership? The AD postion requires directly responding to customers and regulators. For TR this is an impossibly difficult thing -- it is not just a matter of telling regulators to buzz off.

Grow up.
4/15/2005 04:50:07 PM;
It's interesting that on the basis of a hundred words, not one of which mentions leadership, you declared the poster at 1:23 ignorant and not capable of saying "leadership." Maybe you also need a Deputy AD for Logic. I have no idea who 01:23 is or who you are at least for the record; however, I do not believe that the Laboratory can create legions of DADs whose only function is to interface with regulators. You need ADs with confidence in their own abilities and staffs and fully conversant in the technologies they oversee to ensure that their organizations are in full compliance with applicable directives.
Two comments on this one, from a slightly informed position.

First, isn't it good to have somebody in the AD's office who CAN pronounce "Clostridium perfringens"? I don't know this Schwade at all, but I have to believe he knows more about the bio program than Weber, Giles, or Beason himself. Doesn't it help, rather than hurt, B division to have him there? And isn't he better positioned to be an advocate for the bio program than if he had to do the day-to-day stuff within the division?

Second, you can't force people to accept job offers. If Schwade wasn't the first choice for B division leader, yet there's an acting DL there, it follows that the first choice turned the job down. Yes, probably the optimum outcome was for that first choice to take the job and the division to move on, with or without someone in ADTR who speaks bio. It didn't happen. Beason (or Cobb, depending on who you think pulls the strings, but I do think it was Doug in this case) seems to think this is the way to make the best of a bad situation. I won't call him wrong -- this time. I wish I was as upbeat about some of the other personnel moves ...
Good points 20:03:)
Signed Poster 01:23 "The Ignorant One" ;)
For Doug:

It is interesting to compare Beason's announcement about DV Rao as the D division leader, and today's announcement by Wallace of the new C division leader.

Wallace called an "all hands" meeting of C Division today to announce the appointment of Vahid Majidi as the new C Division Leader, starting in May. Wallace mentioned that he was doing this verbally to convey to the division that Majidi was his choice, but that NNSA and the UC regents needed to provide final approval. Wallace cautioned that there was some small chance that approval might not go through, but he thought it was important to get the word out. However, Wallace said he would not send out the announcement via email until approved by all the authorities.

I am struck by the difficulty that our "senior" managers seem to be operating under with respect to communication. For example, Beason sends out a message about Schwade, and it is immediately posted on the blog to be analyzed and criticized by anonymous pseudo-experts (perhaps well meaning, but the power to proclaim that "so and so" is a bad manager without any context is great). Wallace chooses to make his announcement verbally - was it because he is fearful of the blog treatment? Or is it that LANL, as a GOC/GO (Goverment Owned, contractor should operate, but is really goverment operated) has become just too cumbersome.
To 4/15/2005 09:02:12 PM: (Assuming the "For Doug" address was meant for me)

I think it is fair to note that LANL managers are currently operating under very dificult conditions. The fact that any decision made at LANL is quickly observed on the blog, and discussed in a highly public way probably adds a new dimension to LANL operations not previously seen before.

"The fact that any decision made at LANL is quickly observed on the blog,
and discussed in a highly public way probably adds a new dimension to
LANL operations not previously seen before." -- Doug

Perhaps we are moving towards a brand new form of business operations --
"Blog-cratic Management". And to think, it all started here at LANL. Soon
enough, business schools and consultants all around the country will be
making big bucks by teaching others on the newest way to manage a large
corporation and gain key insights into what is really happening within a
I don't know anything about Schwade, but I have interacted with DV Rao. He is held in contempt by many in D Division, not because they are juvenile management-haters, but because he is seen as a self-serving suck up incapable of leadership in these difficult times. D-DO is grossly overstaffed and underworked which means they do more harm than good.
D Division (and as it was known it the past variously as S, A, and TSA Division) has a long, rich history of Division-level managerial incompetance. Does anybody remember T. J. Trapp? How about Darrel Morgeson? And, of course, Micheline Devaurs.
The 4/16/2005 10:24:43 AM poster seems to have an accurate read on D V Rao. This is far from the first place that I have seen or heard the term "self-serving suck up" used to describe Rao.

Of course we remember them, they were "visionaries" of the first order.

TJ is a Deputy DL in NMT. Tough to keep a good manager down.

Darrell especially, was a legend in his own mind, and a self-proclaimed first-rate strategic thinker. No mere "visionary", Damo was rumored to believe himself Casanova reincarnate. Apparently, however, he was closer to Don Juan. Darrell had to leave a bit "unexpectedly". A graduate of West Point of whom they can truly be proud.

Micheline has been described as looking like a "deer caught in the oncoming headlights" whenever she is asked a technical question (or any question requiring thought). The more cynical among us still can't believe they chose an apparent scientist over Micheline to be ADSR. Many saw the potential for great comedy with a non-PhD, non-scientist, pseudo-manager being over EES, T, C, and MST. Hence, the cynical money had her as a lock for the job. Director let them down on that one. At least she is still Acting Deputy ADSR. Prediction is if she doesn't get that job, she'll be an Office Director or some such thing. Even if a new one has to be created for her.

Many people take all this stuff too seriously. Think of it as an ongoing experiment that could never have been carried out in the for-profit sector. Only in a place with guaranteed, endless, cash flow and no checks and balances could such a tragic comedy have unfolded. Expecting no less than "the world's best" from LANL, the more cynical have not been disappointed. They've really enjoyed the show.
Ah, you were clearly in the thick of things, 4/17/2005 04:29:22 PM. You did forget to mention about how TJ sort of fell in love with his secretary back when. Before any of us knew what was happening, he was taking her on travel with him. He was "excused" from his position of S-Division Leader to go on temporary assignment to DC.

Damo, now he was a piece of work. His unexpected departure came about as a result of his being unable to keep his hands off of a summer intern. Oops. I'm surprised his supreme "vision" didn't see _that_ one coming.
I'm a bit dim 4/15 6:59.

Regarding your statement, "The AD postion requires directly responding to customers and regulators. For TR this is an impossibly difficult thing -- it is not just a matter of telling regulators to buzz off."

Could you please explain how, especially if the position requires it, an AD, or anyone for that matter, can accomplish an, "...impossibly difficult thing"?
Schwade was hired by Trewhella to make herself look good after she was booted out of B Division. he has no scientific credentials, although it is said he knows how to "run a meeting". Wooppee-do.
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