Saturday, September 24, 2005

There is a lot of dead wood that needs to be pruned

Comment from the



I'm afraid that before LANL can go forward, there is a lot of dead wood that needs to be pruned. The LANL system of management has been broken for so long that the whole system has become inbred. The (sometimes) poisonous flow of invective regarding LANL, cronyism, nepotism, religious favoritism, etc. that we have been seeing on the blog is indicative that the entire LANL system in dire need of overhaul.

There are individual managers, program offices, whole divisions that need to be rethought, or at least largely restaffed. It is my sincere hope that Lockheed Martin wins the contract, because it is with them that there is any hope whatsoever for positive change at Los Alamos.

I am a causal reader of the blog from SNL. This really pretty funny -- here we do think people get to advance based on who they know. At los alamos you call that nepotism. I am left wondering if this thread is real, or typical lanl sour grapes. It seems to me that most of your leadership comes from somewhere other than los alamos, so the nepotism charge is hollow? I don't know most of the people mentioned in the blog, but I do know the weapons program, and I don't see nepotism there. I do see incredible arrogance, and a feeling that HQ knows nothing. But nepotism? Hey, the leader is Paul Hommert, from AWE and SNL. Weapons Manufactoring -- that is Dave Beck. Threat Reduction -- that is Doug Beason, from the airforce.

If you think that the SNL engineers love their management, perhaps it is you that is deluded.
You mentioned Doug Beason. He's one of the two ADs at LANL worth a damn. The other is Terry Wallace. Read on for examples of some of the worst managers at LANL, brought to us by other LANL managers in a never-ending cycle of crony promotion:

Don Cobb
Rich Marquez
Micheline Devaurs
Susan Seestrom

That is just at the AD level.

Program offices?
Wiley Davidson
Wayne Hardey

Division Leaders, Group leaders?
Wow, where to start.

You SNL folks should come up and spend time at LANL. You will gain a fresh appreciation for your own management.
I don't know if we have nepotism, but we do have cults. Micheline Devaurs is am example of someone that has repeatedly been promoted based on friendship. She started as a program manager in the environmental area, was somehow placed on assignment in the weapons program, and became a friend of Cobb. Cobb then gave her the D division job even though she has zero experience or knowledge of systems or statistics. Then Cobb through Nanos picks Micheline to run the Associate Directorate for Strategic Sciences! Wow. After that, Immele moved her to Deputy to the Deputy Director, and rumor is that Cobb suggested she should become Deputy Director for national security once Immele leaves next week. This is an example of what we mean when we say cronies!
You forget to mention that she has been worthless at every position that was handed to her, 9:59.
Okay, Okay, we can all name some really bad leaders (Seestrom's history is not that much different than Devaurs, expect that Seestrom did pubish a paper or two). But I do know lots of people can point to good leaders, in nearly every area of lab. Even HR - the generalist can be really good. Some organizations are worse worse than others. In my opinion, the Facilities and Maintence division has to be the worst. When was the last time you actually got some maintence on your building? The division Leader, Ray Wallace, is a classic. He makes HR seem responsive and honest.
FMU is bad? I am shocked, just shocked! Now lets see, who is the leader of the directorate? Oh yeah, Scott Gibbs. Scott Gibbs career path makes Micheline Devaurs look down right competent. Gibbs is an engineer that started in MST, and has wondered around facilties, security, HSR, being promoted along the way by Mah and others. The guy does not do anything.
Don't forget the ultimate "yes man" Kevin Jones. He was given DX by Seestrom as repayment for screwing Kauppila and Horne.
Go Micheline, go.

Ignore those negative comments. They come from those 75% of the 3000+ respondents that said that Lab Management would do nothing about the problems identified in the
Checkpoint Survey.

We all know that only the best and the brightest make it to the top at LANL - that's why LANL is the premier national lab.
Regarding the comment from anonymous at 9/25/2005 01:17:30 AM about moving to the top: turds also float to the top.
If people (from moderator to posters) to be really honest, there is a HELL of a lot of dead wood from the bottom rung of the ladder to the top of the ladder. People who had good careers that now spend most of their time being envious and spiteful to make sure no one else can succeed. People who have to judge someone as 'evil' because they are or are not a believer in a church. People who can not find a single nice thing to say about Los Alamos except that they are happy making other people miserable.

Yeah things were screwed up with Nanos.. but a lot of people here make him the excuse for their current spiteful, hateful nature. The truth is that you were hateful and spiteful before hand and used Hecker, Brown, and every AD, Division Leader, and Team Leader as an excuse before now.

I really miss the area, but I think the best thing that I did this summer was get a job somewhere else. The company town mentality and the various clicques of which church or non-church you go to have become the death of LANL.. and I dont miss any of it.

If DOE has any sense, it should really just start from the ground up and figure out if keeping LANL open is really worth the headaches.
In case you had not noticed it, 01:19:07 PM, the moderator went elsewhere to work this summer also. It might be interesting to get his perspective on this particular issue, and LANL in general. In case you also had not noticed, Doug doesn't post much. Most of his efforts seem to be spent trying to maintain some semblance of civility here. A difficult task, since much of what is posted isn't very civil.
The problem with dead-wood removal is that the dead-wood is rarely removed. I've been through one large voluntary reduction in force and it was the high performers who left because they could get good jobs elsewhere. LANL's problem is additionally complicated since a lot of the dead wood is paid rather large salaries.

Happily, I am leaving LANL and New Mexico in a week. Over the last month I've relaxed, realized I can look forward to new challenges, and will relish seeing LANL in the rear view mirror. I will certainly miss my dear friends and colleagues, but I won't miss the abusive managers, the chaotic and dysfunctional systems, or the petty politics and posturing.

I wish you all well in your dead wood removal program. You will need it.
Hey, believe me, many are hoping for another VERIP.
Nepotism: n. Favoritism shown or patronage granted by persons in high office to relatives or close friends.

Cronyism: n. A close friend or companion whom recognizes and facilitates nepotism. Or wait, is that Manager?

Case in point: A Division Leader's wife, working in one of her husband's Groups, desires a promotion. Receives one, to new, uncompeted-for Team Leader. Group very careful not to submit PA so HR wouldn't find out. But approved org. chart passed out at official Group meeting so everyone knows new chain of command and authority structure. UTPE reported it to HR and thankfully, she now reports to the AD and is not allowed to supervise.

Nepotism? Yes. HR did their job. Now UPTE members suffer in this Division. Managers never retaliate, but they make certain to show and talk about whom their favored employees are and who their disfavored employees are. Then "group think" herd mentality (that rat experiment mentioned earlier) of the employees does the dirty work for them.

I think that's called hostile work environment. This is LANL management, folks.
Another case in point. Deputy Group Leader's spouse is a Team Leader in the group. Deputy Group Leader facilitated promotion and raises. Complaints to HR were ignored. This married couple freely enjoyed nepotism, cronyism and abusing anyone who opposed them.
How about the husband/wife employees of HR. One was the HR person in my division. The other was the HR person in a division I was transferring in to. Their pillow-talk killed my transfer. My division leader told me what had happened. My group leader reluctantly corroborated the truth. My raises suffered for many years in retaliation for my attempting to leave my division. After several years of abuse, I have move on to yet another division in the Lab and could not be happier with the change. The new people appreciate me, and I them. There is some real slime up there in HR.
HR is a total disaster yet it grows and grows and grows. Despite the growth it is a boondoggle beyond believe. HR (and the stand-down) killed the contingent worker project and even now it takes MONTHS to hire staff. The ridiculous paperwork they require slows down the process even though ALL the info in the paperwork is included in the initial submission. It takes WEEKS after the decision to hire is made before HR is done with its portion and then MORE WEEKS to get basic info through Compensation. How many HUNDREDS of HR staffers does it take to process ONE HIRE? Yet nothing seems to move them along. They don't seem to be accountable to anyone. To be blunt they seem to be slow, stupid, and (if you ask too many questions) retaliative. How can it possibly take 3 months to hire a sitting SSM contractor who already has a Q?

Possibly all the workers have been siphoned off into processing retirements! Possibly.
From the looks of the Director's sudden announcement of a hiring
freeze, it appears that the "pruning" is about to begin. Hold on
to your hats, folks. It's going to be a wild ride these next few
years at LANL.

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