Dirty Laundry Usually Doesn’t Get Aired

Airing Dirty Laundry.jpeg

The way to fix problems is to first identify and acknowledge them.


Only then can you focus on them, commit to them, really address them, and make things better.


The BIG problem though is fear. 


Usually dirty laundry doesn’t get so easily aired. 


Generally, people don’t want trouble. 

“The nail that sticks up gets hammered down.”

And who wants to be the one to get hammered flat and for of all things, doing the right thing?


We don’t encourage transparency.


And we certainly don’t reward transparency. 


As I once overheard:

“Uh, you better keep it in the family!”

So things get kept in the family, and the big burly husband is a drunkard bum and the wife is abused and the kids are abused, and the sh*t goes on. 


Shhh…


Open door policies, hotlines, and other mechanisms are helpful, but don’t go far enough. 


Bosses need to ask point blank and with full and honest assurance of confidentiality and non-attribution or retribution:

“Tell me what’s really going on here.”

When there is smoke, there is fire, and where there is skunk stink, there is skunk.


The only way to know the truth and make a difference is to get to the truth.


In life, is anyone willing to “do the dirty” and finally get to clean? 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Advertisements

The REAL Problem Is NOT Healthcare

Healthcare.jpeg

Why can’t all the really smart people in this country solve the healthcare crisis?


The democrats tried and it didn’t work out to well. 


And now the republicans are trying and sort of the same thing so far.


Is it politics?


Sure, that is what it can easily look like. 


One side wants to give more to these folks and less to someone else, and the other side vice versa.


But I don’t think that is the truth!


Wouldn’t we all like to give health coverage to every single man, woman, and child in this country!


Seriously…doesn’t everyone have a heart and soul somewhere in there.


And we all know and/or fear what it’s like to be at risk, without proper coverage, and without the medical care and medicine that can be lifesaving!


So here’s the real problem folks:


It’s not healthcare, nor any of the other social or national security issues we face–whether the military, space exploration, environmental concerns, jobs, or anything else. 


This is what it is…


It’s called the national debt, which stands art $20,000,000,000,000


And that doesn’t even include ANOTHER 127,000,0000,000,000 of unfunded liabilities for things like social security and medicare etc. 


This is a nation that collectively doesn’t save–it spends–and it spends not only it’s current purse, but it’s future one too!


In fact, total U.S Household wealth in aggregate of $90,000,000,000 is eclipsed by our overall national debt!


True, this doesn’t include trillions of dollars of other significant business or national assets, but it does point to the overall severity of our highly-leveraged financial position.


So where does this leave us?


We can’t really solve healthcare or any of our other problems–if we are BROKE, busted, and a debtor nation. 


Yes, it takes money to invest, and money to pay for solutions for now and for the future. 


But how can you possibly solve anything, if your pockets are not only empty but have a big f*ckin’ hole in them. 


So folks, the lousy decisions of the past and present are coming back to haunt us. 


It’s a tidal wave, a tsunami of debt–of unbelievable corruption and kicking the can down the road–of fraud, waste, and abuse–of shortsightedness and lack of real leadership–and the time is coming to pay the piper!


If you think the political infighting–liberal and conservatives–tea party and progressives–alt left and alt right–socialists and dictators–is bad now?


But unfortunately, unsolvable problems lead to accusations and recriminations–finger-pointing all around–calls for impeachment–calls to let the other party or some independent lead us out of this mess.


Do you think being in such a challenging situation could also lead us to make rash and stupid mistakes or even go to war? 


In the end, how do you lead us out of a dead-end caused by generations of recklessness with our country’s finances?


Some say perhaps we can grow ourselves out of the debt–maybe we need to go back to school and all get our MBAs and start the whole messed up story all over again?


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

I Met The Swamp And It Is Us

Swamp.jpeg

So with the election came promises (and hope to some) to “drain the swamp” in Washington, D.C. and beyond. 


That means redefining the size, scope, and purpose of federal government.


It also means reducing regulations that stifle American business and competitive advantage, placing restrictions on lobbying, and imposing term limits on Congress.


Presumably, it also means addressing mounds of fraud, waste and abuse in the system (many examples of each are out there).  


So here is a funny true story from when I was traveling recently…


A gentleman is riding with me in the elevator and he turns to me to make chit-chat. 


He says, “Good morning. Where you from?”


I smile and respond, “Washington, D.C.,” and add proudly, “the nation’s capital!”


He then asks, “What do you do there?”


Feeling a little perky that morning and with the elevator ride about to come to a stop at the lobby, I quickly blurt out, “Oh, cleaning up the swamp.”


To which, the man responds with the sarcasm galore and probably a good dose of disdain, “Yeah right!” 


There was something so comical about this scene in which I sort of baited this guy and at the same time found the reaction that is all too likely throughout America.


Do people believe and are they committed that we really do the following:


– Change the status quo of big stumbling government


– Right the wrongs done by those who take advantage of the system, its power and big money


– Restrain the ginormous national debt that threatens to consume all of us


– Fairly and compassionately address the nation’s priorities including those for national security, prosperity, and well-being


– Drain the swamp from the horrendous creatures that dwell and thrive therein


And the capital is not built on a preexisting swamp, but it did come and grow, man-made, dark and deep, as a result of the greed and fear that drives too many, far too far. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Nuttiest Duck In DC

Just when I thought I’d met all the nuts in this town (Washington, D.C.)…


I ran into this one in the Capitol Reflecting Pool on the Mall. 


Check this out!


The duck is head first waddling away it’s feet in the air like a lost puppy.


Reminds me of too many folks who don’t want to deal with the many consequential problems that our nation faces (fortunately, there are also many good folks that do!).


From the imminent dangers of North Korea, Iran, and ISIS to our staggering national debt (all of which I wrote about yesterday) along with other critical issues such as healthcare, immigration, and jobs, jobs, jobs. 


Then there are the all too frequent projects that are out of control and funding that is flushed down the proverbial $4,000 toilet. 


A history of dysfunction, fraud, waste, abuse (along with an assortment of personality disorders) have ripened for the picking in the election famous “Swamp”–that we’ve been promised will be drained!


Maybe that’s what this duck is wading into…and what do you think he will find? 


This nation can no longer afford to go head in the sand unless we are looking to be a good-for-nothing dead duck rather than a thriving democracy and beacon of freedom to the world. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal

Inspector Inspects Starbucks

Inspector.jpeg

This was the first time that I have ever seen an inspector in Starbucks…


See the lady in the white lab coat with hair cap and gloves…


Ah, she stands out like a saw thumb in contrast to the other staff person in the traditional green Starbucks apron. 


So I would imagine that she’s not a doctor moonlighting as a barista!


She was checking here, there, and everywhere. 


At this point, she was taking out the milk and looked like she had some thermometer like device to make sure it was cold enough and not spoiled. 


Honestly, I was impressed that they have this level of quality control in the stores. 


We need more of this to ensure quality standards as wPhotoell as customer service — here and everywhere in industry and government. 


There is way too much dysfunction, inefficiencies, politics, power plays, turf battles, backstabbing, bullying, lack of accountability, unprofessionalism, fraud, waste, and abuse, and mucho organizational culture issues that need to be–must be–addressed and fast!


Can the inspector that inspects do it?


Of course, that’s probably not enough–it just uncovers the defects–we still have the hard work of leadership to make things right–and not just to checklist them and say we did it.


I wonder if the Starbucks inspector will also address the annoying long lines on the other side of the counter as well? 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Changing Organizational Fear To Firepower

Image
Senator Chuck Grassley posted a video of the Acting Director of the ATF sternly warning employees that “if you don’t find the appropriate way to raise your concerns to your leadership, there will be consequences.”

But as Senator Grassley has pointed out in the video’s description–“the essence of whistle-blowing is reporting problems outside of an employees chain of command.” In other words, reporting problems to external oversight authorities like Congress is an important and protected action in exposing shortcomings and addressing potentially serious issues.

The Congressional Research Service provides an overview of The Whistleblower Protection Act (WPA) of 1989–basically, as I understand it, WPA protects federal whistleblowers who report gross agency misconduct (e.g. mismanagement, waste, and abuse) and prohibits threatening or taking retaliatory personnel action.  Moreover, the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act (WPEA) was introduced in 2009 to broaden the protections to, I believe, more violations except minor or inadvertent, but this has not yet been passed.  Further, the Office of Special Counsel investigates whistleblower complaints.

Unfortunately, as pointed out in The American Thinker, employees have taken the message as “a warning to keep their mouths shut,” especially after agents exposed the Fast and Furious failed gun-running operation to Congress in 2011.

An agent quoted in The Washington Guardian states: “The message was unmistakable. Keep your head down and the only way you can report wrongdoing is by going to your chain of command. It was chilling, Orwellian and intimidating. What are you supposed to do if your chain of command is the one you think is involved in the wrongdoing? That was why OSC and IGs were created.”

President Obama’s Transition Website states more clearly how whistleblowers should be viewed and treated: “Often the best source of information about waste, fraud, and abuse in government is an existing government employee committed to public integrity and willing to speak out. Such acts of courage and patriotism, which can sometimes save lives and often save taxpayer dollars, should be encouraged rather than stifled. We need to empower federal employees as watchdogs of wrongdoing and partners in performance.”

Whether one works in the government or the private sector, actions that are taken as bullying is problematic, not only from the perspective of morale but also in terms of productivity, as pointed out in an article in SelfGrowth called Leadership: Are You a Bully Leader?

“Bully leadership is sharp, authoritative, angry, and feels uncomfortable to those in contact with it…the bully leader bark out orders, threatens consequences and use strong, harsh statements…” as many have clearly come away from with this video.

In a dysfunctional organization where employees are bullied and threatened, the results are devastating to employees and to the vital mission they serve:

Stifling productivity–employees do not give their all–they “do what needs to be done and that is all. They don’t go above and beyond,” so productivity declines precipitously.

Stomping out ideas–since the bully leader “needs to be the one with the great ideas,” employees don’t share their input–they know to keep it to themselves.

Squashing effectiveness–bully leaders want to control everything and “lack trust in other people,” the result is a negative (and perhaps even a hostile) work environment where motivation, quality, and effectiveness are decimated.

It leads me to wonder, can those who lead by fear become more inspiring figures who empower employees and engender communication, trust, and fairness?

Obviously, changing a dysfunctional organizational culture is probably one of the hardest things to do, because the most fundamental everyday norms and “values” that the organization runs on must be overhauled.

However, it can be done, if top leadership on down is sincere and committed to change. The goals should include things like effective collaboration, delegation, empowerment, and recognition and reward.

Fear and intimidation have no place in the workplace, and all employees should be valued and respected, period.
We should encourage employees to speak out sincerely when there are issues that cannot be resolved through normal channels.
In the end, the most positive change will be when we strive to build a workplace where employees can focus on serving the mission rather than worrying about being afraid.

This post shouldn’t be seen as a referendum on any one organization, but rather a way forward for all organizations that seek to raise the bar on performance and morale.

I know that the people of ATF are highly principled and committed, because I worked there (in IT, of course) and am proud to recall their tremendous efforts.
(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

 

Putting Children Above Ourselves

Folk_festival

What a distorted editorial this morning in the Wall Street Journal called “What’s Really Behind the Entitlement Crisis.”

Oh, thank goodness (NOT) that we have these pundit-types to tell us what’s “really” happening and feed us their self-serving “proofs.”

Anyway, the author, Ben Wattenberg, contends that we all are suffering a decline in standard of living because we don’t have enough children.

He actually advocates that we have more children to bear the burden of our waste, fraud, and abuse and inability to live within our means.

The author writes: “Never-born babies are the root cause of the ‘social deficit’ that plagues nations across the world and threaten to break the bank in many.”

Never mind that current world population of over 7 billion people is anticipated to rise above 9 billion by 2050, and we continue to spoil and deplete our world’s limited resources already.

The author selfishly contends that “Declining birth rates mean there are not enough workers to support retirees.”

Unfortunately, the author ignores that if current and prior workers and politicians did not spend down the balances in social security to finance other pork-barrel political initiatives, then each workers savings would still be there to support their retirement, and we would not have to rely on future generations to make up the difference by spending their savings to support our prior excesses and waste.

Wattenberg ends by saying that “The real danger for the future is too few births.”

Like a glutton, he advocates that we eat more in order to keep trying to satiate our insatiable spending needs.

When I was a kid, my father used to joke about eating too much and say we should do some push-ups–push the the table (with all the food) away from us!

No, like teenagers on day time TV shows, who contend that they want to have children because they feel it is their “way out” of their problems and only then they will be loved and be able to love, and the TV show host puts them in a program with a fake baby that cries and makes at all the inconvenient hours of the day and night, does the teenager realize that having (more) children is not the answer to their problems, but actually may only increase their problems.

Having more children as a nation–we already average about 2 per family–in order to finance our retirements and entitlements through the development of another generation of a slave labor pool is completely misguided.

Have children for the right reasons–out of genuine love and a commitment to give–not to receive.

Mr. Wattenberg does not seem to care if children are brought into the world of broken families, poverty, violence, drug and alcohol abuse, molestation and incest, homelessness, and separation and divorce, because Wattenberg’s standard of living is at stake.

Bring children into a world that is giving, loving, and sustainable.

Safeguard life, but don’t recklessly encourage birth.

Birth is a privilege of the young, not an entitlement for the elderly.

(Source Photo: Michelle Blumenthal)