Sunday, May 01, 2005

Director George Nanos may be the wrong man for the job

From Anonymous:

When I was captain of a naval ship I was convinced the Navy's command structure, which put the executive officer in charge of operations -- and allowed the captain to make a contrary decision, (after error was easier to know and with less loss of face for undoing it,) was superior to what I had known in civilian life.
I have had no experience with a troika, where three heads are better than one. But the obvious invitation to "cut-throat 2 against 1" has always come to mind when I thought of it.
Leaderless structures are great, in my view, for teams assigned tasks that require genius to see them through. They are not possible at the top where general leadership may guide many teams but not be replaced by any. I believe this blog comes close to being such an extremely flat structure -- and is proving its value to nations, even worlds.
Now LANL has become a national focus for worrying how to proceed when a national mission gives signs that it is in peril and the President and his cabinet will have to solve an incumbency and structural problem and set a precedent that history tells us most nations fail to solve.

Director George Nanos may be the wrong man for the job. If he knows it he will resign.
If he is the right man for the job he will pull LANL together, (in spite of all he may have done right or wrong,) by changing course, doing right and talking straight on the issues. If he's been largely right, the course change won't be great. But it is not possible, if what the public has read has a scintilla of truth, for the Director's former course to have been completely right.
If he is the wrong man for the job -- and does not know it -- this blog has served a terribly useful and timely purpose: it has highlighted a profound problem our President and his cabinet must solve. Abraham Lincoln used his cabinet and his own genius all the time -- often to solve problems similar to this one. President Bush will have to do the same.

And if he is the right man for the job, he will stand up proud and tall and admit that he has made some grevious errors. Some of us have actually been hoping for that since the day he shut us down, since the day he dressed us down, since the day he knocked us down.

Those who had trusted and respected him before that waited patiently for him to recognize some of his errors. Some of us even tried to tell him.. guess what happened to them?

If he's the right man for the job, he's got a lot of crow to eat while he moves forward.... he's not shown himself to be capable of even imagining his own failings much less admitting to them and correcting them.

Don't hold your breath... I'm not anymore...
George Nanos was the wrong man for a job that was far beyond his capabilities. Victims of his management failures are many in number. Certainly, among the most significant victims are the dedicated people who came to this remote and isolated Laboratory to make it the success it has been. Because they believed national security was important they accepted positions in which the consequences of error to their careers were enormous. They subjected themselves to intrusive background investigations, random drug/alcohol tests, psychological screening, and polygraphy. More importantly, they have made a difference helping preserve our freedom and society during and after the Cold War. The damage done to them, their families, and their professional reputations and careers is absolutely inexcusable and shameful. Possibly, the following quotation best conveys the consequence for these men and women of the accusatorial management now running Los Alamos. Only the tenacity of those who remember what Los Alamos once was and what it must again be has ameliorated this outcome.

“An incompetent supervisor feels that the best way to secure his or her position is to appear faultless and work mightily to make clear who fouled up or even to place blame on a scapegoat. But that behavior turns people into twitchy, record-keeping, blame-tallying masses of ectoplasm.” (footnote below)

However, the most important consequence arguably is the possibility that the security of this nation may have been impacted. Certainly, the stand-down has resulted in over 3,000 person-years of vital work being lost to our national security, and the institution’s corporate knowledge will be decimated with the departure of many of the Laboratory’s “best and brightest,” an exodus that has already begun. Work not accomplished during the stand-down includes otherwise “mandatory” efforts to uncover possible latent catastrophic defects in the Nation’s nuclear stockpile. Los Alamos scientists also were not advancing technologies to detect and render safe a terrorist-implanted improvised or stolen nuclear device. Likewise, they were not deployed to help secure possibly that last kilogram of plutonium or enriched uranium that some terrorist might have needed to make such a device.

(Footnote: Martha Beck, “Good Boss, Bad Boss;” THE OPRAH MAGAZINE, January, 2005,
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