Monday, April 25, 2005

I would like to "call the question", by Gary Stradling

I would like to "call the question" by polling in another direction.
I have looked at the "Petition to remove Director Nanos" in the blog side bar. It has on the order of 100 posts with the following comment posted near the end:
"To summarize this attempt at a petition to remove Nanos as Director of LANL:
-Brad Lee Holian
-John N. Horne
-David F. Simmons
-Scott A. Watson
-Luce Salas
-Anonymous (90+, largely afraid of retaliation)
-Ambiguous (uncertain number) ... 2/24/2005 09:03"

Anonymous comments directed at me on the Quality branch of this blog assert that 99% of the lab staff are in mutiny against the management:
"What you seem to fail to grasp time and time again is that 99% of the workforce does not trust Nanos. ... To a person, we revile the man, but felt a duty to do our jobs anyway. He has destroyed our ability to serve the country."4/24/2005 07:40:49 PM
"Gary, this is war. The technical staff is at war with the director and anyone who defends him. When he goes, so will you. There are no rules in this war. Anything that helps to rid us of Nanos is fair game. If we lose this war, we will leave. Do you understand?" 4/24/2005 10:18

Some posters have questioned my credentials to engage in a rational discussion about these important issues. These are issues which affect me, many of my friends and associates, and the future of a great institution. I have been intrigued by this question of the credentials and the actual number of people represented by the large number of hard-core, vehement, We-Hate-Pete postings. This was summed up well in one of the posts on the "Petition to remove Director Nanos" list:
"I'm enjoying your blog but I'm not from LANL. It reminds me of the New Yorker cartoon where Rover is at the keyboard and he's saying to another pet. "On the Internet, nobody knows I 'm a dog." This entire forum could be written by one real person who is fearful of his job and unable to leave the lab. How many of you are there? Can you find another job? ... The idea that you can't give your name under a simple truth unless you're retired or leaving seems to be the almost the same as cowardice. "2/16/2005 03:50

Many of the lab staff have felt buffeted and ill treated by a long sequence of events culminating in the Shutdown: The Chris Cox Committee report, the political nature of the Wen Ho Lee investigation, the Walp/Doran expose' claiming a widespread culture of corruption, finding out that there were actually some thieving employees in management positions, the misplaced hard drive investigation bungled by the FBI, and then on Nanos' watch, the CREM/laser safety incidents. There has been a lot of fixation on Pete Nanos' less-that-soothing interaction style as he has fought the tiller, the sails and the crew to bring LANL back into the wind.

Most LANL employees are fair minded and recognize that there are real problems that had to be resolved, that there have been a few employees who have been cavalier in their attitudes to safety and security regulations, while most here treat them very seriously. Most want us to get over this bump, refine our approach and get on with our mission. So, 100 employees out of 10,000 are outraged enough to sign a petition to remove the director. That is 1%, not 99%. There are 1500 visits a day to this site on weekdays. Where are all of those folks on this issue?

I propose that Doug also put up a "Get On With Our Work" list for lab staff in one of the following categories to register their votes:
-If the Director is replaced, we still have work to do.
-We recognize that the key issue is not the director's personality but the Laboratory's approach to executing the business part of its job.
-We feel bruised, but have the wisdom to forgive.
-We wish we had state of the art management and processes, but are willing to work thru the task of getting there.
-We do not stand behind the ultimatum of "The technical staff is at war with the director and anyone who defends him."

Maybe the combined results of the two lists will better approximate "The Real Story" at LANL. I encourage the rest of the 1500/day blog watchers to register your views.

Gary Stradling

I intend to ignore Gary from this point on.
Actually, Gary, you are the strongest evidence to date that even 1% support Nanos. Over 100 people signed to have him removed. Only you (and maybe Fred T., but he won't come out of hiding) seem to continue to support the man. You do the math. Besides, he is out anyway...and not a moment too soon. I will sleep well tonight knowing Pete is already planning his "vacation".

The best way for you to get a feel for where people stand is to do something that almost no manager at LANL does: walk the halls and talk to the staff.

My personal, unscientific estimate of the percentage of LANL staff that is dissatisfied (to put it politely) with Nanos is in the 60-90% range. I don't have the time during the day to actually conduct a real poll. But I don't believe that all the comments that are made in the hall are superfluous either.

Perhaps you can convince somebody in one of those famous support groups to generate a questionaire (kind of like our anonymous upward appraisals). You could get at an answer without having to deal with the retaliation issues.

As for me - I sat through a brown-bag with Pete, and listened to him say that good people were expendable for no other reason than he was misinformed and not willing to consider that better information was available. I cannot follow somebody who is willing to throw his troops into a meat grinder without really good cause and a compelling case.

Forgiveness will take a long time. My "leaders" and "managers" will have to earn it.

I already have a job to do. I will be able to focus more of my energy on that job when Nanos leaves and he is no longer the negative distraction that he has become for me.
I nominate Gary Stradling as the most pompous sycophant at Los Alamos. He has nothing to show for his last eleven years of employment.
A nautical aside: when a boat turns into the wind, it loses its way and slowly drifts backwards.
Gary, please read the posting immediately above yours. I think you should consider withdrawing your diatribe because it not only rings hollow but come May 15 it's clapper will be lying on the cold ground.
Gary, dude - it's time to let it go. Really.
Gary, perhaps you can sponsor a kegger for the Director's going away party?
Gary, please stop making a fool of yourself.
Gary seems pretty rational here. Informal water cooler polls I'm privy to indicate that at most about 10 percent of people actually hate the director, while the majority of others seem totally ambivalent about the director but do seem to be concerned about the future of their retirement and the contract. These water cooler polls also indicate that the blog is not in any way representative of the majority of the employees and that most people do agree that there were some very serious flubs in safety and security and discipline for these flubs was warranted. So it seems like Gary really is onto something when he asserts that 1 percent of the workforce is represented here. I know this post will result in abuse from the blog hogs who hang out here, but what the hey!
Every laboratory employee has responsibilities too.
∗ When there are questions about the justness of management actions, ask, listen and try to understand all perspectives.
∗ Stand up for worthy concerns, raising clear and specific issues through channels.
∗ Protect the reputation of the laboratory and those we deal with, including managers.
Senior management at the labs, the University of California, and the Department of Energy must also be unrelenting in courage and honor, ensuring that fairness is upheld. A candid, transparent track record of just action will rebuild trust.

Gary Stradling, 123 Canyon Vista, Los Alamos

After reading about the blog in the Los Alamos Monitor and checking out the site " LA the real story " I would like to post that: contrary to what is written and which I have read. "I have found that the Laboratory's management has been willing to listen about any concerns, down to the newest hire, which may involve safety. Even if the concerns effects programmatic issues. At least in the division I work for. The Messenger has not been killed yet. Open discussions are encouraged at the group level and relayed to the division. I don't know much beyond that. But the division office seems to receive support from the AD level, I believe as they have shown those whom I work with and myself, that this is true.
Just a little guy, with hope.
I agree with you 10:12. Most people I know couldn't care less about the Director, the SET, our AD or even our DL. Just too far removed. Their main concern is their retirement and the contract.

I must add that I get the feeling most are convinced those of us who don't retire are going to get shafted in one way or another. Which is why even though many are ambivalent about UC as well, they think UC is the best chance to preserve whatever benefits they have accrued. They look at the terms of the recent LBL contract and hope the same will happen here.

Then there are some who take it a step further, and are actually ambivalent about the future of LANL as well. By that I mean they don't care about the science and whether LANL becomes a pit production facility, or whatever. It's just a job to them, so it really doesn't matter.
10:12 and 12:17, you must live a very different world from the one I live in.

I lead a small experimental project. At our weekly project meetings, once business has been taken care of, the discussion nearly always turns to Nanos, his latest idiotic decree of the week, and how it will negatively impact our project specifically and experimental science at LANL in general. My team members, at least, are unanimous in their contempt for Nanos and in their eagerness for his departure.

Recently, during one of these anti-Nanos group rants, I asked if anyone had been following this blog. Interestingly, it seems I am the only member of the team who has ever looked at it.

This has been the case with most of my water-cooler discussions about Nanos -- near-unanimous loathing of Nanos, but very few people even aware of the existence of this blog.
The negative impact of Nanos, the shutdown, and its aftermath, is such that most of my colleagues have been actively looking at other employment options. Two close colleagues and good friends have already left.

So you can take my "signature" (anonymous, of course) on the petition to remove Nanos, and multiply it by at least 20 to take into account all of my like-minded but silent colleagues. I suspect this is also the case with the other 100 or so "signatures."

Perhaps the difference between my experience and Gary's and 10:12's and 12:17's is that I work in a group that is highly motivated to produce real scientific results, and that has a long history of delivering. Idiocy like IWDs, a purchase system that doesn't work, and above all the stand-down, really rankles among highly-motivated self-starters like the people I work with (I guess that makes us arrogant cowboys).

I suppose if you don't care if anything ever gets done, or if science at LANL goes down the drain, if you're just here to push paper and collect a paycheck, then you might not care about Nanos one way or the other. But for nearly all the scientists, engineers, and technicians I know, science and results do matter, and among those people, Nanos is held in the utmost contempt.
Gary Please!

"Protect the reputation of the laboratory and those we deal with, including managers.
Senior management at the labs, the University of California, and the Department of Energy must also be unrelenting in courage and honor, ensuring that fairness is upheld. A candid, transparent track record of just action will rebuild trust."

What about the reputations of the scientists that Nanos has destroyed? What about the reputation of the lab that Nanos personally destroyed? What about the consistent track record of unjust action by Nanos, DOE, NNSA, UC, and Congress. The distrust that LANL employees have for all of these institutions has been earned over several years and is well deserved.
I have really tried to see your side, Gary, and at first you seemed to have a point. But when I gave a concrete example that I knew well, you brushed it aside -- did I know both sides? is this true? It is true and is an example of Nanos's throwing away a good chance to solve a safety problem in a manner consistent with TQM or even just respectful human behavior. The employees did the right thing and were punished for it.
In the blog, as in everything else in life, if you rule out all the evidence that goes against you, you have a warped outcome. I am afraid you have fallen into that category in my books.
My feeling is that if you want another blog on how we can solve LANL's problems ourselves -- you should start one -- Doug is busy doing what he thinks is the right thing.
I do not believe it is possible to solve LANL's problems when the guy at the not is fighting us. If the new leader is no better than Nanos, there is nothing we can do except mutiny again or leave.
As I understand it 2,500 people are now signed up for retirement in the next few months. The person who cleans my house says everyone she knows is retiring soon. The problem with smart people is that a lot of them do question authority and refuse to follow bad leaders -- thank goodness. Maybe LANL can hire a more bovine lot next time.
I guess LANL figures it can replace the 2500 retirees with some post-docs and new hires. Perhaps it can, but an enormous amount of knowledge of the stockpile has already gone out the door with most of the rest soon to follow.
Best of luck to the new guy and to the people who come to take over. Hope they have better management than LANL has had in the past 15 or so years.
But I admire the employees who refuse to tolerate the mistreatment of people like Todd, John, the two vault workers who were fired, and many other lesser known employees who have been mistreated. I hope they all win their lawsuits, yes, several of them have lawsuits, to such a degree that LANL sees the handwriting on the wall.
1:20, I honestly have admiration for the passion you and your group of coworkers share.

Unfortunately, the reality is that even though I am a TSM, it really matters very little if I care about science, LANL management, etc., or not. Likewise, whether I leave or not will have no impact. Many coworkers have left and were quickly forgotten and replaced. No delusions there. Yes, I collect my paycheck, for which I come in, do my job and then leave.
[ I have really tried to see your side, Gary, and at first you seemed to have a point. But when I gave a concrete example that I knew well, you brushed it aside -- did I know both sides? is this true? 4/26/2005 08:22] To ask details when there is an apparent conflict between two credible sources is not brushing anything aside. Unless you only judge based on bias, which seems to be the standard of the core bloggers on this site, then looking at the evidence is essential. (Your house keeper's impressions are probably is not the gold standard for evidence.) Thanks for at least trying to see the point of view I have put forward.
Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?