Showing posts from September, 2017

The Audience Was Not Happy

What is not measured is not managed.

I attended a training session a couple of days ago that was sponsored by another office at work.

The subject matter was the Baldridge method of quality control and how we apply it to our organization.

This topic and all related topics is incredibly interesting to me. It should be interesting to anyone running a company. Because no matter what methodology you use - Baldridge, Lean Six Sigma, or even a simple Excel spreadsheet to track actual versus target - you won't get results unless you assess, publicize and discuss exactly how well you're doing.

I remember years ago watching a TV segment about a cruise line. Every single employee on the ship knew how their specific job contributed to the bottom line. On that basis they know how well or badly they're doing. And of course, management knew as well.

And Amazon. They have a number for just about everything (sometimes, perhaps, to a fault). The employees even rank each other (we do this also, a…

How Government Leaves Money On The Ground

The problem is the human factor. As follows: Government cannot decide whether its jobs are ultimately a "jobs program" or the products of a legitimate workforce planning system based on merit. Meaning, some people are getting paid as a way of paying them back for other things. This is inefficient. The most highly paid people in the civilian government workforce are theoretically there to make the difficult decisions that will lead the organization forward. As a practical matter however their hands are tied by the irrational demands made of them by those higher up in the system. Most of the time, they cannot challenge such decisions unless they are willing to lose their jobs in the process.The level of technology literacy among experienced government employees is shockingly low. Every dollar we spend having people design work solutions based on outdated knowledge is a dollar wasted. The reason that seasoned government employees are not technology-literate is that their leaders…

Performance Appraisal

It is that time of year when we look back over the past twelve months. Personally, professionally, it is a time of reflection.

But judging yourself -- and being judged by others -- is not easy. It gets very psychological, very fast. Denial, deflection, and other defenses spring up. And most people find it very difficult to stay balanced.

On the one extreme there are those who blame themselves -- for just about everything.

Other people don't seem to have this problem -- it's always someone else who created the problem -- and nothing is ever their fault.

It gets even more confusing.

I've noticed that the people who seem on the surface to blame themselves all the time, actually tend to refuse accountability. For example they will say things like: "I'm just not good at this." As if to say, even if it is my fault, you shouldn't expect a different result next time.

On the flipside, the people who deflect blame -- who say things like, "The computer system runs to…

A Note On The Ethics Of Muckraking

I've been ghostwriting for a client and got hired again, thank God, to write a follow-on article.
The client is upset about the many abuses of power they have observed in the Jewish Orthodox world.
I have become conscious about the fact that corruption-hunting can easily degenerated into toxic hate.
I am concerned that my voice will be used as a tool of hatred against religion, Judaism, and Jewish people.
The first draft of the first article was unfortunately headed in that direction. I gave it to the client too soon. Fortunately I was able to provide a second version in time. 
The final draft did not contain hateful language, and it had the right message of balance: evidence-based concern linked with a forward path. A positive attitude. Hope. Maybe even healing.
Last night I talked to the client and put my concerns out front. We are in the Days of Repentance now. I don't want my work to make any more hatred ("sinas chinam"). I am turned off by how much hatred I see…

PR Success: Washington Jewish Week Covers Women's Self Defense Event

PR success with God's help. Dan Schere at the Washington Jewish Week covered an event I organized at Magen David Sephardic Congregation in Rockville, on women's self defense. 
Sophia Marjanovic did a great job. Tori Garten at Barton MMA attended and tag teamed with her. 
Sophia donated all the proceeds to the synagogue. 
Article is behind a paywall so here is a screenshot. 

Rosh HaShana, Day One

The major task for me, on the Jewish Sabbath and on holidays, is to avoid engaging in work.

For me, work is the Achilles' heel of faith. 

Because when I work, I feel invincible. But of course, nobody is.

Facebook showed me a photo of myself five years ago. I looked so much younger and thinner then.

Today I wake up, and I am not the same person.

It takes me a few minutes to get going--maybe it's my platelet count acting up again, maybe it's menopause.

I find that I am grateful just to get vertical without too much trouble.

Yesterday we went out and I saw a lady take about fifteen minutes to get from inside the building to a taxi waiting outside.

The frailty of my body is upon me. And it doesn't get very much better from here.

So we went to synagogue yesterday, after I struggled in the morning not to think about work.

We looked at the seating chart and figured out that we were sitting in the same exact place as last year. 

Of course, some people had taken our seats. But it didn'…

3 Lessons From The Hawkeye Pierce School Of Management

As a child I grew up on a steady diet of a certain kind of sitcom. Their names kind of run together -- All In The Family, One Day At A Time, The Jeffersons, Good Times, The Facts of Life, and M*A*S*H.
In many ways, the producers of these shows shaped my worldview. They put characters out there whose lives were tough, and even dangerous. Relationships provided a temporary respite at best from a largely harsh existence. In the show M*A*S*H, Hawkeye Pierce (Alan Alda) played a wiseass doctor struggling to get through the Korean War. He's stationed far from home, with too many patients, an unpredictable case load, a life-threatening environment and not enough good staff or supplies. While the overall head of his outpost was decent enough, Hawkeye always had too much on his hands and there were politics galore to be navigated. But he was also a gifted doctor, and he made the unit work. As a much older person now, I look back on the lessons I got from that show and think frequently tha…

The #1 Reason Your Presentation Sucks

They say that public speaking is more terrifying than death for many people and this is the same reason why, more often than not, your presentations are terrible.

It’s not that you don’t know your subject matter. You probably know it better than the back of your hand.

It’s not that you aren’t prepared, either. Most likely you’re not only studied-up, but probably spent a little too much time hitting the books before your big Ted Talk or senior briefing.

The problem has nothing to do with you. The truth is that while some of us are clearly more theatrical than others, presentation skill is a skill that can be learned.

So why are you so bad at it? Why is your audience changing the channel, at least mentally, for 99% of your talk?

The issue is a basic flaw in your thinking. Please, rinse and repeat the following four words:




If you get up there thinking about yourself, I can tell you right now: your talk will have zero impact. Or wo…

Blaming & Shaming At Work: Breaking The Destructive Cycle

Recently I started reading the book Crucial Accountability: Tools for Resolving Violated Expectations, Broken Commitments, and Bad Behavior (Patterson et al., 2013).  The main idea I've gotten from the book so far is that cooperation breaks down when 2 conditions are present: The other person thinks you're disrespecting them.The other person thinks that working with you will cause them some form of harm. If this theory holds true, then the formula for getting people to work with you is this: Show them respect ANDFocus on a mutual goal -- meaning, it has to benefit both of you. How this works in the real world: Respect is shown through word and deed. It is what you say. It is your eye contact. It is your demeanor. It is your body language. It is listening. It is time. It is giving people credit for good ideas and good work. Etc.Focusing on a mutual goal is shown through appreciative inquiry. What do you want or need? What do I want or need? Where do the two intersect? If you do…

10 Real-World Self Defense Tips — From A Lecture By A Survivor

On Wednesday, September 13, 2017, I was fortunate enough to hear a lecture by sexual assault and domestic abuse survivor Dr. Sophia Marjanovic, on the subject of self-defense for women.

Also in attendance was Tori Garten, assistant instructor at the Barton Mixed Martial Arts Studio in Glenmont, MD. She teaches self-defense for women on a regular basis, and has a special understanding of its psychological benefits.

The class ran for two hours and was extremely informative. Though it is impossible to capture everything that was said (and demonstrated physically), here are some key points:
People who commit sexual assault are predators. They are not normal.Predators are generally not strangers. They are people you know and who are close enough to get into your space, gain your trust and disarm you sufficiently to attack.Predators are generally Caucasian and they are male.Predators tend to attack over and over again. You are not special — they do not love you — they only want prey.Predators …

The Best Internal Communication Is No Internal Communication

From my own experience and observation, the best way to connect staff is to provide them with an internal Facebook type platform and mostly leave them alone to talk. There are two caveats:Leadership should get involved now and then to share key messages and to respond to issues of significant concern.You can’t penalize people for expressing strong negative opinions.  We could debate whether the internal conversation platform needs to have a project management component. I personally think the two should be firewalled from one another to promote the idea of a safe space for watercooler discussion. The higher level strategy behind letting people have “complaint sessions” within the firewall, safely, is that you’re actually hearing what they perceive rather than issuing missives from an echo chamber on high. If you take the time to create a true environment of trust, my guess is that people will also take the time to listen to leadership messages that clarify misperceptions. They will al…

7 Reasons to Establish the National Institutes of Manufacturing (NIM)

This morning I did a brief video on the need for a National Institute of Manufacturing. More specifically, we should have the National Institutes (plural) of Manufacturing (NIM), with centers dedicated to specific subject matter with the potential to help promote economic prosperity and security for our Nation.

Why is the NIM so important? The Godly purpose and the promise of manufacturing is to provide us a level of material comfort sufficient that we can house, clothe and feed ourselves. At that point we can focus on what really matters — taking care of our families, helping others in the community, and contributing to a Nation that is strong and proud and capable of supporting the goal of a peaceful and stable world.
Key points:We’re Leaving Money On The Table: I was sensitized to the importance of manufacturing when I served as Associate Director for Communications at the National Network for Manufacturing Innovation, out of NIST (now called Manufacturing USA). In that position, I…

Why Organizations Innovate (Brief Comment)

As an innovator I find that the incentive for organizations to take the risk is usually crisis. Not PR. 
I have failed a lot and been punished a lot when the organization wasn't in enough pain to want a pain in the ass around. 
Conversely I have been patted on the back when the concept delivered had the potential to avert a major or minor disaster. In these instances the innovation is not so much the "what" but the "how" -- can you help me get it done faster better cheaper or show me how we didn't need to waste time on it in the first place? 
Alternatively -- can you explain someone else's innovation to me in a way that I can understand it (CRYPTO!) 
There is also huge role and appreciation for people who can mainstream other people's innovation. Let's face it the "what" is a dime a dozen, everybody's got an idea, but not everybody has the skill to make it real.

Originally posted to LinkedIn 9/11/2017 by Dannielle (Dossy) Blum…

The 5 Things Government Needs To Say

The fact of the matter is that we live in a deeply divided, even incendiary political climate in which the news has become more of a weapon than a medium for conveying facts of importance to citizens. 
In such an environment, it is literally dangerous to utter a single word, no matter how benign, lest it be twisted into something that the speaker never intended to say. 
Nevertheless, the government must continue to communicate. In fact, it must overcommunicate, to ensure that the public has the information it wants, needs and is entitled to. By this I mean that communication happens on Department and agency websites as well as through social media. 
Not only should all channels be used, but information should be made readily available to all parties -- journalists, citizen bloggers, users of social media, as well as employees -- and they should be encouraged to use it.
There are five areas, or themes, that ought to be prioritized in this process focus of attention: Crisis response: Ri…

The Art of the Deal With God

This is a difficult topic to discuss but I will just put it right out there: I am going through menopause.

Going through menopause means that you will, at any given time: have hot flashes, be irritable, get dizzy, be tired, and lots of other fun stuff I will leave it to you to look up and memorize at such time that it is your turn.

As things stand it appears that menopause is quite the taboo topic. You are allowed to discuss it with: your mother.

Also you can discuss it with any people of the female persuasion (are we still allowed to say female or is that politically incorrect now?) who appear to be in their late 40s-early 50s.

When I tried this exercise with a friend at synagogue she said OH MY GOD, I FEEL YOUR PAIN DANNIELLE and then laughed a wild, loud laugh.

“You gotta get yourself a lotta, lotta herbs, my friend.”

“More herbs? I have a cabinet full.”

“Yesssssss,” she replied. “And soy milk. Lots, and lots of soymilk.”


My other friend, from work, also happens to be going through “…

On The Limits Of Hysterical Feminism

My friend Sophia hates that I support Donald Trump and is forever asking me how I can be a feminist and advocate for a man who talked about “grabbing women by the p — .”

I don’t like to get into it with her because a) it never ends well, and the last time I did we ended up not talking for a long time, and b) she is a survivor of abuse and it seems emotionally wrong to debate someone who has been repeatedly traumatized over the subject you’re discussing.

But last night she tagged me on Facebook in a post hashtagged #StopBetsy. Apparently Department of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos is reexamining Title IX enforcement on college campuses, a decision that even the leftist New York Times endorses, mainly because of how easy it is now to mark an accused perpetrator as guilty.

In a July 21, 2017 article titled “Betsy DeVos Is Right: Sexual Assault Policy Is Broken,” Cathy Young notes that under the current standard, based on a so-called “Dear Colleague” letter from the Department of Educa…

The Limits of Spy vs. Spy

This year, on April 23, 2017, the Jerusalem Post — citing Germany’s Interior Ministry — published a piece asserting that “Germany is a hotbed of Iranian spy activity that targets Israel.”

Other countries Germany investigated included Russia, China, Turkey, Syria, Algeria, Libya, Sudan, Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Morocco.

On October 26, 2016, the Times of Israel shared the existence of files from Russia’s KGB showing that Israeli officials at the highest ranks were part of “an extensive Soviet spy ring in Israel, encompassing Knesset members, senior IDF officers, engineers, members of the Israeli intelligence community, and others who worked on classified projects.” Just about a year before that, on January 29, 2016, citing “documents attributed to leaks by former U.S. spy agency contractor Edward Snowden,” Reuters (via the Huffington Post) published an article asserting that:
“The United States and Britain have monitored secret sorties and communications by Israel‘s air force in a hacking o…

Another September 11: Remembering The Sarmas Massacre & My Zayde's Role In Burying Its Victims

Many people don't like to talk about death. But in my family, it has always been the tradition to help out the Chevra Kadisha, or "group who does the sacred." These volunteers make sure that Jewish people receive a proper religious burial. I never understood how, or why, we were so connected to this particular area of Jewish life, nor did I understand why I felt such a personal need to advocate for women. That is, until my father sent me the videotape of my Zayde (grandfather), who recounted his experiences in a series of interviews with the Holocaust memorial organization Yad Vashem. For awhile I couldn't watch the videos; too painful. But then on Tapes 4-5, Zayde tells an important secret he never revealed to me in his lifetime. I had to share it with the world. - Dannielle
Background Sarmas is located in the south of Transylvania, a region in Eastern Europe.

For centuries, Transylvania was part of Hungary. After World War I, in 1918, the ethnic Romanians declared