When there are good people in a flawed system,
they system wins most if not all of the time.
Who owns the system?
Updated: March 11, 2022
Commentary. I had an interesting career in the federal government. One of my skills was assessing and developing the capability of systems in producing the best outcomes. As a Reservist, the aim was reducing the capabilty of the systems of our adversaries.
After 911, my team was mobilized for up to two years to support chemical warfarfare (cw) related assessments suporting the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, Our classified reports – published and distributed, assessed that the quality of the CW related intelligence was not credible. The Green Zone with Matt Damon, includes some scenes that brougt back memories.
When I asked questions or pointed out issues at county meetings, I offered to provide additional support. And as you may know, I document things.
For a quick overview of quality including providing a context for the Brown County Leader Network, more information at my site: Success Through Quality. I will be introducing what I think will offer a break-thru in the barries to quality improvment thart I expect to have national impacts. This has been a passion of mine since the late 80s.
In my future posts on County Goverment, I will be shifting my focus in support of systemic improvement. In the US, We the People, own the system – We are Top Managment. Until now, we have not had the methods and tools needed to support us in executing our responsibilities. The Brown County Leader Network (BCLN) has developed a self-help based approach and help when needed. Check it out and look over the Support Materials. And yes indeed, there are always things that can improved and we do – That’s America!
Over the past 5 years, I’ve been attending meetings and learning more about the people and the decision-making processes. It is highly predictable and not always in a good way. Have you ever heard that … put good people in a flawed system, the system will win most if not all of the time?
The genereal motivation for decisions in a flawed and corrupt system includes the following: (1) Decision has already been made; (2) Don’t know the answers or the issues and don’t really care; (3) Basing a decision on ignorance allows you to claim plausible deniabilty; Who cares when things go wrong and they do, but so what? And likely the strongest motivation is the power. You can make the call because you can despite your questions and the effect the decison may have on others.. Power is addicting to many – they need the hit and withdrawal is never easy. Plus someone can be higher up in the pack hiearchy than you – know your place pup.
County Government? Yes. We have a flawed system. A monopoly on political power without embracing transparency, is a breeding ground for corruption. Not in the legal sense so much but the moral. Individuals get “assimilated” into the system and cannot distinguish between right and wrong.
- An example (and I have many) of this is when I ask for publicly available information on a project that should take less than 30 minutes to provide. Even after follow-ups in writing and during public meetings, I can be forced to go through the State Public Access Counselor after 30 days (adds more costs to the taxpayers) to get the information which adds another 30 days or more. And, if we are playing Bureaucratic Bingo, it can last even longer. The last is time I just asked for the “memos” from Indiana Railroad to the County regarding the Indian Hill Road crossing. This decision making proces was among the worst.
- It’s not like I’m new to the process (35 years working within the federal and military bureaucracies). The delays and the games can be perceived as an indicator that something is being hid. It can also indicate support for a tactic that is thought to lead the inquirer to a sense of learned helpless which will prevent future inquiries – citizens – Top management, will just give up and shut up despite their constitutional responsibility, and accept their place.
- Alpha-Dog Leaderhip. Know your place in the pack and you better not challenge the big dogs.
And, given the exiting system years of observation, I understand why commissioners do not want questions at public meetings that are available online now and for ALL all to see. Although, having public records on questions submitted via email shoud be an interesting development to follow. Mine are routinely ignored and I do keep track.
There is one issue that I will work off- line at this point. And I think it is the most destructive to to our officials, our citizens, our communuty and our country.
County And Community Capability Maturity And Potential
Most if not all traditional problem-solving and decision-making approaches might be assessed at a capability level of 2 on a 5 point scale. Five (being the best). A level 2 means it “works” at the Ok level, which may be the national average. A pretty low bar. Imagine a professional sports team declaring that they just want to be Ok. How many tickets would they be selling?
The quality approach (with a basic understanding of variability) is designed to get you quickly to a Level 3 and higher if the project is one of your top priorities. And the number of citizens involved is also a success factor. Example: County And Community Capability Maturity And Potential
An assessment of capability of county systems would likely grade out it at a Level 2. The so what? A s a general rule of thumb within Quality, the Cost of Poor Quality (CoPQ), can range anywhere from 20-40% of budget. There is a correlation between a capability level and the CoPQ. Who is the “top management” in this county?
Do we need systemic improvement? Yep, Check out the “self-help” materials at the Brown County Leader Network. A basic SWAT analysis can help an individual or group pick a topic, do an analysis, identify a needed change and priority, put together a simple timeline and present to the Commissioners for action. And, you could submit an automatic email scheduled to be sent weekly to our Commissioners asking about the status. And, you could attend the meetings – wright your question on a sign – What’s the status? Maybe extend your walk to Historic Downtown Nashville. And, maybe we get known as a community that loves its Constitution and committment to continuos improvment.
Now, given we have a proven method and process for identifying and making improvements (BCLN), and a new system for demonstrating our commitment to improvement, could make for some interesting and ongoing media coverage.
Note a little irony. Commissioner Biddle requested the County put together an application for a grant – Hometown Colaborative Initiatie (HCI). Jerry Pittman made the opening statement, grant was approved, and the BCLN developed. It is built on a self-help model – you know your area, you can probably answer most of the questions. And, you don’t quit until you get the desired result. And, its “normal” to go through several cyles and some you may never quit on. Because once you’ve established the change, you have to maintain it and there is a process for that. And, you learn a lot and can have some fun.
We have good people trapped in a bad system we own. You can’t walk away from that.
In summary, we have a county sponsored program (BCLN) for making systemic improvement and an inspired citizenry committed to making the county better – you know “more perfect” – that little footnote in the Constitution. Should be interesting. And yes, could all this be prevented. Sure, but what is the fun in that?
For more information: See Check Out my website Success Through Quality. Main Page summarizes the State of Quality in America.