Saturday, May 21, 2005

A real attempt to seek solutions

A comment from the


I believe that some of the airing of concerns seen here as well as discussions in a number of other venues are a real attempt to seek solutions for an organization that has been and could or should be great.

In the absence of a concerted effort to improve things that really matter, people will continue to 'think out loud' and dabble with possible solutions to perceived problem areas.

The things that really matter, from the trench-view, are things that consistently pose problems in getting work done in a reasonable time, at a reasonable cost, and with a reasonable amount of safety and security and are reasonably close to the desired outcome. Hopefully, there is also reasonable recognition to balance out the reasonable effort expended.

I've intentionally overused the word "reasonable" because it alludes to common sense (uncommon as it may be recently) and because in the legal system we use the 'reasonable man' test as a benchmark and it is commonly accepted as a valid descriptor of the average person.

So, why is this improvement, positive change and common sense so elusive? Aren't there smart people engaged in all or most levels of the Lab?

One suggestion which continually appears and then fades away is to use this blog (or other communication venue) to have positive and productive discussions about problems and possible solutions. It is difficult to do so in a public forum without risking the potential for violating policy. It's more difficult to have people volunteer to share information within the broken system when they fear retribution or retaliation. Real or perceived, the impasse is monumental for many and the frustration mounts.

Some problems don't seem to be just Nanos' era but much earlier. The departures of each 'bad manager' or deviants like those who criminally shamed LANL (Alexander & Bussolini) are certainly steps toward recovery.

The retirement of many people who feel they can't risk losing what they've been told would be their security beyond their work-years is a sad compromise for some of the intellectual strength we have hoped to draw upon, however they can't be blamed for taking a necessary step toward their own and their family's stability.

Those who will leave because they can no longer tolerate the circumstances should be wished farewell, literally that they fare well in their next endeavor, rather than lambasted for making a choice they need to make to deal with the situation.

Those who will stay and those who will come on board will need to roll up their sleeves and look around for what can be fixed, what can be replaced with something that works, what can be jettisoned and what can be left as is.

My hope is that what can be simplified will be simplified rather than complicated. Also that what can be salvaged in terms of meaningful work, future achievements and people's well-being, will also be salvaged.

And finally, I hope that the struggle and the follow-up with hard work, integrity-based effort, will allow the people's trust (Congress, the public, et al) to be restored and prove that we're not just a bunch of lazy, clever (at avoiding work, hiding problems, creating messes, or taking cavalier risks with their money, environment & etc) whiners.

I don't mean to downplay the situation that people who live and work in the area endure, but it is evident that there is much more to be gained by putting one foot in front of the other toward recovery rather than trying to continue to explain the current conditions and continually justify the response.

Nicely put and well-reasoned description of where we are all at in our respective paths. Those of us who retire can not be blamed for protecting the well-being of our loved ones. Those of us who move on due to frustration can not be blamed, for we have all experienced that frustration. Those of us who stay can not be blamed because we have chosen to "fight the fight" to return LANL to its greatness. May we all get on with our respective choices and do the very best we can under whatever circumstances pertain. The main thing is to keep all of this in perspective and value what is truly important in your life; loved ones, health, pursuit of happiness, or whatever else you choose...what a great country we live in.
Let Us Get Back to Work but...
Let Us Suffer No More Fools!

I appreciate the spirit of this post and comment. I am very ready to move on (in place), to seek a fresh start. I look forward to the possibilities that are implied by the end of the oppression, of a new contract.

However, I must say that this does not mean there was no huge betrayal of trust that will require more than a simple "nevermind" from all levels of power to heal. I am not waiting for this acknowledgement in any overt form, but the media's willingness to openly acknowledge that there was scapegoating here is a good start.

The politics behind the Wen Ho Lee scandal are finally somewhat exposed and eventually the politics behind Nanos' reign of terror may eventually be as well.

This blog has helped to accelerate the exposure of what happened here. Yes, it put a lot of our dirty laundry on display and it gave a couple of nasty Congresspeople a tiny bit of ammunition for their petty attacks on us, but overall the value of open discourse has already paid for itself. We know ourselves better, we are hearing a few common voices rising.

I do not believe (clever and ripe with comic relief as it is) the implied image of Sean Gleason's Blog Comics cover:

That this blog or Doug Roberts "threw Nanos down the elevator shaft".

I think "bad cop Nanos" was likely to "move on" at this point in any case, allowing the "good cop Kuckuck" to come in after Nanos had softened us up with the equivalent of several days of intensely rude insults and interrogation with sleep deprivation and a couple of sucker punches when we were least expecting it.

We can be so relieved that "bad cop Nanos" is out of the room that we forget he himself is just a pawn in a much larger game. Who is behind the one-way mirror? Who sent Nanos in really?

For the moment we need to straighten our rumpled clothing, wash the sand from our eyes, the blood from our collective nose, and walk back out into the daylight and try to move on. Some will "leave town", others will retire, and yet others will stay and try to rebuild what hasn't been permanently destroyed.

We can put what just happened to us behind us but we do not have to forget it happened. We will be looking much more closely at our new contract and our new management at all levels and being a *lot* less tolerant of their bad behaviours. The spotlight is on us, let us use it to demand uprightness from all levels of management, all the way to the top of the University and Corporation that wins us and to the top of our government, Executive and Legislative (and Judicial perhaps) branches.

It really is easy to do a good job if management supports us. Most of us are defined by our over-achievement, by our desire to be the very best at what we do, by our dedication and commitment to our work, our peers, our fields.

Let's get back to work, but let us suffer no more fools.
Great thread! The original poster and both comments are right on target. I think almost all of us are ready for change from the recent past but we are definitely going to be a lot less prone to trusting our managers (all the way to DC) or motives. Who IS behind the one-way mirror?
Excellent points!

As I posted above, the work should go forward with "integrity-based effort". Yet, even shortly after I logged off, I realized that there is a world of change and improvement, (along with ongoing effort) toward that basis of integrity-driven action in those simple words.

In a more perfect work world, there would be no ego-based power plays or manipulation for the gain of one or a chosen few without the buy-in of those who would and should hold decision-makers, managers and the work force accountable for their actions and outcomes. I hope for incredible integrity from those who manage and those who are managed at LANL.

I would also hope for integrity in the representation of our efforts and our situation, both the management and their mouthpiece, Public Relations. Likewise, in the media who receive and distribute information an integrity-based approach would do well in gaining and developing intelligent consumers and has the potential of being profitable, doesn't it?

For a place whose core work is based on creative thought that is followed by rigorous testing of logic & reason, the sly underhanded political games, both within the Lab and the forces outside of it but which impact its existence, make for a terrible distraction from the goals it should be pursuing in science and service to the nation. I hope for integrity in interacting with our tax-payers and the leaders who carry our voice to the centers of government (or are supposed to do so) and their integrity in representing us - the Lab as well as the citizens.

Integrity, accountability, value-based decisions and actions at all levels should be the order of the day but in the truest sense with a solid commitment to rebuild LANL toward greatness and worthwhile contribution to our nation and the world as has been touted in the past.

I don't know how else to say it, but this can't be about lip-service, fads du jour, or buzz-words, it has to be the real thing with real success ahead.
5/21/05 12:12:28. Your statement: "The main thing is to keep all of this in perspective and value what is truly important in your life; loved ones, health, pursuit of happiness, or whatever else you choose...what a great country we live in." is very imortant. We should never forget that Todd Kauppila has been deprived of his health, pursuit of happiness, and his life. His wife and children have been deprived of their husband and father. You may be able to get on with your respective choices but a great man has been denied his life,liberty, and pursuit of happiness. To forget this horrendous injustice would be to lose all perspective on what has happened. I urge you to move on with what needs to be done but please remember this man and his family.
Perhaps as homage to Todd's efforts, improvements can be made for those who would move forward and perhaps allow his legacy to be one of positive change.

If integrity is applied to the current circumstance, it should also include a remedy for the absence of integrity in the recent times.

How sad that his family is placed in such a state!
Great thread all around. As an employee, it is crystal clear that common sense and integrity are the keys to successful management of Los Alamos. As a citizen, am very pleased that the LANL workforce cannot be sold out and that we have chosen not to suffer fools... in Congress, for a Director, from UC, or wherever. Good luck to those who are moving on, and cheers to those who have decided to stay. - Scott
Finally, the discussions that I had hoped for when I started to read this blog are happening.

Thank you.
Integrity. I can work with that.

And Todd's memory. I agree that we cannot forget what happened there and seek redress for him in whatever way we can.

Does anyone know how the contributions to his family are going? Do we need to pass the hat a few more times?

Doug, does it make sense to restart a Post regarding helping Todd's family and getting some satisfaction from LANL/UC? I know Foley was a real bastard about that, but I don't know that we need to take no for an answer so easily.
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