Big Brother 19 Orgy of Bullying

I have been watching Big Brother for years and for the most part have enjoyed it, but Thursday’s episode was horrific. If CBS does nothing about it – by inaction – the network endorses this abhorrent behavior.
Even though Jessica Graf and Cody Nickson may be the worst players ever to play and perhaps the two tilt toward the obnoxious;

the abuse, bullying, and terroristic threatening heaped upon them by the house was repellant, disgusting, and dangerous.

The entire house, except two cowards hiding inside, followed Graf and Nickson to the back yard and seemingly circled they two lying on a Hammock and began hurling insults. It was akin to watching African wild dogs corner wildebeests. Josh Martinez ran around banging frying pans (not unlike psyops in a military operation), Raven Walton hurled expletive after expletive at the two, an through it all Paul Abrahamian danced in the background like some satanic character whose vile plan was coming to fruition.

On to the cowards and there are two and one honorary coward
1. Matthew Clines watched from a far mumbling about how the even was all wrong. Yet he did nothing.
2. Mark Jansen watched from the doorway shaking his head and also did nothing.
3. Honorary coward Kevin Schlehuber the oldest of the group, did nothing as well. He of all of them should know better

These three were aware enough of the situation not to get sucked in, but were too cowardly to act. Shame on them.

The whole thing showed the worst of television and breakdown of decorum.


While You Weren’t Looking The National Security Council Changed

Lost in all falderal about the refugee bans and protests at airports was an Executive Order, which reorganized the National Security Council (NSC). That reorganization excludes the Chairman of The Joint Chiefs (CJCS) from regular committee meetings and instead has him attend only when his/her expertise is needed. Moreover, it installs the controversial White House adviser Steve Bannon as a permanent member.

This is an especially worrisome development as the military members are specifically trained to develop estimates and play the role as the strongest advocate AGAINST their own position. The CJCS provides presidents and the national command authority apolitical continuity.

The second part of order is the ascension of Mr. Bannon as a permanent member. Mr. Bannon is a longtime rabble-rouser and purveyor of questionable journalistic products. He has been accused of catering to white nationalists at Breitbart News.

It is important to remember that during the campaign Mr. Trump was quick to remind that he “knows more than the generals.”

While council and committee assignments lack the visibility of protests at airports, it is in these bodies that policy and priority are determined. Assigning the right people matters. By adding Mr. Bannon and subtracting the CJCS president, Trump may be creating a body that lacks the gravitas needed for complex, dangerous decisions.

Decision Time — Sort Of

Well here I am. After close to six months we are finally at a point of almost decision. Today the Delaware Workforce Development Board will have its executive committee meeting and during that meeting, go into executive session to discuss filling the Executive Director position.

In the interest of full disclosure, I have a vested interest as I have been holding the position in an acting status since January since the previous executive director unexpectedly left and took a job at a workforce training outfit – good for her. And while I am appreciative of the opportunity, all good things must end.

This morning the executive committee will decide to either advertise my position in lieu of appointing me (as has been done for every executive director nominee) or send my nomination to the full board for a vote. So I guess we’ll see.

I was angry at first with all the hubbub because I am quite sure I am wonderful and suspected (maybe I still do) a ringer hanging in the wings. Oh well, we’ll see. Also this process was not the one described, I wish Doris Day was here to sing to me.

I think I’ve made peace with it all though., I’ve done all I can. I have been guiding the organization through troubled waters even though we are short-handed, dealt with a lot of high profile challenges, and provided good quality advice. I’ve also kicked some turds in the sunlight, that may or may not be a good thing, but when in charge, be in charge.

So I guess we’ll in the next few hours.

I’ll report back afterward.

‘Strategic Doing’ Showcased at ETA Region 2 — Bravo Leo Miller!

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration’s Region 2 state leader’s meeting held Thursday March 12, 2015 in Philadelphia was an excellent example of reaching out for new approaches to deal with the complex challenges wrought be the advent of the new Workforce Innovational and Opportunity Act.

Instead of reviewing –ad nauseam – lagging employment indicators and performance measures in hopes of figuring out what state is (or rather was) failing in one arbitrary data dump or another where the presenters and offenders are equally uncomfortable, because the old info is about as relevant as a Ouija Board foretelling, Region 2, under the leadership of Leo Miller, chose rather, to chart new ground by presenting tools we just may be able to use.

Ed Morrison from Purdue explains Strategic Doing at a recent Region 2 Leadership Meeting
Ed Morrison from Purdue explains Strategic Doing at a recent Region 2 Leadership Meeting

Strategic doing – not strategic planning – is a methodology championed by Ed Morrison, of the Purdue Center for Regional Development. Mr. Morrison posited a simple premise – instead of a top driven strategic planning model eventually where groups of well-intentioned staff officers worry about task assignment and punishment-based metrics, the same well-intentioned staff officers work in a lateral environment where tasks are divvied up trusted partners and assignments are grounded in “framing questions.”

A lot of words – I know. I was attempting to sound erudite and official.

Let me put it this way. Strategic Doing requires a mind-shift. Instead of a strict mission analysis where we take a leader’s vision and implement a project based on that vision by discerning implied and specified tasks, we instead start with a question, which frames all follow on conversations.

For example, a recent vision statement from the U.S. Department of Labor says:

Excerpts from TEGL 19-15
Excerpts from TEGL 19-15

Suppose though, instead of that statement, which requires deep analysis, we gather experts we value and trust and ask this, “If we were to make a truly integrated employment system that was responsive to the needs of employers and job seekers, which projected needs into the future and also provided for the most vulnerable of us. What would that look like?”

That is significantly different than stuffing solutions in boxes based on checklists developed through task analysis and never tapping into the creativity many people have. There is a cultural intuition borne of experience, which can help guide organizations through turbulent times.

I am not eschewing deep analysis, rather I am suggesting Strategic Doing can widen the tool kit and produce a more thorough planning cycle once we frame issues as questions rather than over analyzing. There is a place for deep analysis it is widely important, but working with people one trusts and values to create a common vison might be a more powerful approach.

The Strategic Doing Mr. Morrison championed was not a “touchy feely” brocade-coat, with Donovan playing in the background, approach to planning or management. Rather the central foundation appears to be embracing 30-day increments of metric-based tasks needed to accomplish the group’s vision.

Mr. Morrison encouraged the groups to complete a “Big Easy” (aka low hanging fruit, an easy to complete high impact task) in the first 30 days of work to get some success under its belt. Follow on tasks are also broken into manageable 30, 60, 90 day increments as the group gets more experience using Strategic Doing. I’m not sure how much I embrace the Big Easy for fear of embracing too much low hanging fruit, there is a lot of high hanging fruit that has to be dealt with in the next 15 months, but maybe there is something to it all.

Even so, the fact that Mr. Miller tried something different to influence the planning discussion sets a wonderful tone for Region 2 as it moves toward WIOA implementation and planning, giving the state’s new tools with which to take on the daunting task of redesign.

To find to more about strategic doing go to

This blog does not reflect any opinion of the Delaware Workforce Development Board or the Delaware Department of Labor. These are my thoughts written to stimulate conversation among workforce professionals.

Gore HR Gurus Astound at Outside-In Seminar

Graham Williamson of WL Gore speaks at an Inside Out Seminar
Graham Williamson of WL Gore speaks at an Inside Out Seminar

The wind was whipping and the morning snow flurries were making a last stand as I walked Thursday morning, February 26, 2015, to the front door of the University Delaware’s historic Goodstay Mansion on the school’s Wilmington, Delaware, Campus.

I was hopeful.

This meeting was the second talent acquisition seminar I attended in as many months.

Comcast/Universal’s Beth Bunting Arnholt led the first, a discussion of organizational change; today’s was a discussion of branding led by two WL Gore talent gurus, Graham Williamson and Steve Schuster.

This one was significantly different, wonderful, and overwhelming.

You see, what made this one a bit different, wasn’t that it was so much about branding in the marketplace, but rather branding through W.L. Gore’s recruiting and retention processes.

Let me say that again, a science and technology company is/was concerned about its branding through its recruiting and retention processes.

“To create a work culture requires work every day,” said Gore’s Regional Recruiting Leader Graham Williamson.

Mr. Williamson, whose refined British accent makes everything sound like deep profundity, said that whenever we talked about our companies we are indirectly making promises.

Again, another interesting thought.

After Mr. Williamson gave an overview of the firm’s commitment to excellence and all that means in the grand HR context. His partner for the morning, Steve Schuster, expanded on the themes.

Mr. Schuster said that all points along the recruiting process are measured with hopes of improving it.

The goal is for 90 percent of all candidates – including the ones who don’t get the jobs – is to rate the process as very satisfied.

I imagine it’s pretty easy to get the people who are hired to say they liked the process, but to get the ones, who aren’t, seems a chancy proposition.

Even so, he said better than 80 percent of all candidates rate the experience as very satisfied.

It was easy to see that WL Gore does not consist of a bunch of nice touchy-feely guys, but rather the recruiting and retention process and that effort is an extension of the firm’s overall branding.

“W. L. Gore & Associates has made its name by creating innovative, technology-driven solutions, from medical devices that treat aneurysms to high-performance GORE‑TEX® fabrics,” its website says. “A privately held company with annual sales of more than $3 billion, Gore is committed to perpetuating its 50-plus year tradition of product innovation.”

Mr. Schuster said there are five things that each Gore candidate has to demonstrate: Passion and Drive; Integrity and Ethics; Networking and Sponsors: Informal leadership; and Accountability.

To get a good feel for what Mr. Schuster was talking about, I took the time to visit the “about” section of the website. It is available at

Obviously, Gore thinks recruiting and retention is a critical component of its culture and that extends from their products forward.

It was a great presentation, so why did I feel so blue when I left the Goodstay Mansion? The sky had cleared a bit, the wind ebbed, and the sun peaked through, but I felt like a cloud was hovering.

I felt gray as the snow filled morning sky and full of cold comfort.

It occurred to me that most employers don’t look at workers as extensions of their products and processes, but rather view them as interchangeable commodities.

Throttled By Seminar: Why Outside-In® Has Me Pacing the Floor At Night

Beth Bunting Arnhholt
Beth Bunting Arnhholt, Vice President of Integrated Talent Management for Comcast/NBC Universal

I went to a pretty great seminar last week on Thursday, 29Jan 2015, put on by Outside-In®. Seminar: Influencing Cultural Transformation – One Small Step at a Time. The guest speaker, Beth Bunting Arnholt, vice president of Integrated Talent Management for Comcast/NBC Universal, was captivating in the way of most big thinkers.

There is a seminar axiom I always keep in mind when listening to big thinkers like Ms. Arnholt, “Take the best and leave the rest.” And although there was very little to leave behind from her presentation, there were some pearls shinier than others.

Either her second or third slide haunts me a bit. It was a quote from Edgar H. Schein former professor at MIT and leadership and organizational culture authority – another big thinker to note. The slide defined organizational culture as, “A pattern of shared basic assumptions that the group learned as it solved its problems of external adaptation and internal integration that has worked well enough to be considered valid and, therefore, to be taught to new members as the correct way you perceive, think, and feel in relation to those problems.”

Boy, that’s something. The phrase, “that has worked well enough to be considered valid,” is – while undoubtedly true – enough to keep leaders pacing the floor at night and start smoking and drinking again.

It’s not that something worked well, or is a preferred method, or even a good idea, but rather that it works well enough. Hokey smokes Bullwinkle, that’s terrifying!

I imagine smoke-filled rooms where a bunch ne’er do wells, spend their time collectively dodging proverbial bullets, patting themselves on the back and saying, “Yep, good one! That worked well enough!”

I want to cry when I think of the enormity and truth of the definition. It is so obvious now after listening to Ms. Arnholt why organizational change is the dominion of Hercules and Sisyphus – it’s hard and there is good chance you’ll be run over by a boulder along the way.

Though she only talked for a while, she made some good points about boulder avoidance. There were several points, but as I cut through it all, a lot comes back to the “vision thing.”

Ms. Arnholt said:

  1. You have to define the future, by knowing what you want and why you want it.
  2. You have to spark the fire, by dealing with a present day situation that will get you toward your vison.
  3. You have to fan the flame, by connecting the dots and helping the future grow.

But more than that, I took away from her presentation the same things I learned at the Infantry Officers Basic Course so many years ago:

  1. Identify the end state – what does success look like?
  2. Begin with the end in mind – what are our small steps along the way and how do we measure the journey?
  3. Lead enthusiastically.
  4. Take blame, never credit.
  5. And remember no plan survives first contact with reality.

After having my psyche rattled by her second slide, one of her final slides put it back into perspective. “It’s not getting one person to go a mile; it’s getting a thousand people to go one step.”