Inspector Inspects Starbucks

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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

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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

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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)

The Broom Flag

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This was a strange sight today…

A blue broom stuck in a flag pole holder from the second floor window of this building.

I wasn’t sure if this was someone just trying to be funny (probably)–and hopefully they meant no disrespect to our honorable stars and stripes.

However, this being Washington, D.C., I wondered whether this blue broom standing in the pole holder was more of a (subtle) message about it being time to:

1) Clean up waste, fraud, and abuse and do the right thing for our citizens and our nation.
2) Wipe away our national deficit and right our fiscal ship.
3) Address our environmental and sustainability issues leaving our water, air, and land in “broom clean” condition.
4) Sweep through and resolve our sizable and challenging national and global problems.
5) Brush under our differences and partisanship and instead, unite together as Americans for the cause of freedom and human rights.
6) All of the above

Maybe I am reading too much into a blue-brushed broom flying over the skyline, but I like the message anyway and hope you do too.

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)