When it comes to bad morale, poorly trained staff and having to do more with less, there is only one way that I know of to address these issues: "Methods for Management of Quality & Productivity." D.C. consultant Ed Deming has a 14 Point plan that addresses these issues, and it is my belief that nothing will change until the office embraces and implements these principals.
Nuch, please read the 14 points and hire a consultant to work with your staff to implement this management philosophy. I know Nuch can be an upbeat, good guy and I'm SURE his team will be trying to run around and boost morale. But based on the assessment below, you will NEVER, EVER...EVER accomplish the goal without the 14 points. I know this sounds very over the top...and I am serious: Good intentions will only turn into actually accomplishment the if the 14 points are implemented. I'm not kidding...it's the ONLY way. You may as well hang out with ZD at Venice Beach today and watch my free show and hang out all day with the Venice Vagrants if you are trying to move ahead with ANYTHING positive, without walking THIS, first.
Trutanich faces low morale, poorly trained staff
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City Attorney Carmen Trutanich inherited an office from predecessor Rocky Delgadillo that is rife with morale problems and needs a major investment in staff training and other resources, according to a report authored by his transition team. [Investment in staff training and other resources is #1 principal of Deming's 14 Points.]
Trutanich, who took office July 1, assembled the team of more than 100 volunteer outside attorneys to examine the agency's operation, identify problems and recommend solutions.
The 156-page report also urges Trutanich to set "Big Hairy Audacious Goals" to improve the office, which has 540 attorneys and wide civil and criminal prosecutorial powers. Among those goals were improving morale and training and increasing the budget. [I do not think you can improve morale of an office like that one without the "training" being understanding of the 14 Points for all staffers.]
John Franklin, a spokesman for Trutanich, said the city attorney is combing through the report and its recommendations. [NUCH! ZD may be Gilligan, but he's the Skipper, cause he's gonna turn the ship around! I think eventually they will secretly read the 14 Points and start doing them!]
"The city attorney is taking this very seriously," Franklin said, "and it talks about problems that cannot be fixed overnight or even in six months." [Sad to say, it cannot be fixed overnight, but you SHOULD be able to have improved morale that Daily News can report on in six months. But you need the 14 Points for that. It might take twenty minutes to read "Interpreting Deming's 14 Points," though.]
But Franklin said many of the recommendations might have to be delayed because of the city's ongoing financial crisis and the cuts Trutanich must make to his department's $97.8 million budget. [Yes, many...but even more reason why 14 Points must be implemented. The entire goal is to improve efficiency through management of quality and productivity. (How to do more with less and navigate around what you cannot control.]
"We are taking an 18 percent hit," Franklin said. [Well, Rocky's office was 100% inefficient, so you are coming out ahead by 82%!!!]
The committee working in the transition team's Law Firm Management group "was advised repeatedly that morale in the office is low," the document said. [Yes, because it is much more stressful to be doing bad jobs instead of good jobs and it isn't the people in the office's fault, just their problem. People just give up and pass the buck.]
"Low morale compounded by inadequate funding and current job insecurity may hinder the overall effectiveness of the office and the ability to accomplish the policy goals of City Attorney Trutanich." [Yes, that is ALWAYS the challenge. I agree it is important to make these challenges, but I do not want to hear words like, "may hinder." That's just a synonym for "crybaby excuses." But I agree it's bad, but morale is one thing you can improve FOR FREE. And I said, "improve," not fix entirely, immediately. But good morale is an internal office grass roots campaign, as well.]
The report said there were a number of reasons for the malaise, including the city's budget problems but also the lack of transparency in promotions, the assignment of cases and the lack of proper equipment. [The first two problems may have already walked out the door with Delgadilldo.]
For example, the department's attorneys have to share 129 outdated Blackberry devices. There are no laptop computers for the attorneys and, even if they had them, there has been no training in how to best use them in court. [Oye!]
Attorneys now receive little formal training when first hired and have few continuing-education opportunities. Many of the less-experienced attorneys learned on the job what was expected of them, with little correction offered by supervisors. [14 Points, 14 Points, 14 Points. I really have to forward this article to Deming experts and consultants across the globe, because these are textbook quotes. You have NO idea. I might even be able to sue for plagiarism, that passage is so cliche. I LOVE IT! I can just make a new internationally acclaimed article based on this one.]
One of the issues Trutanich campaigned on was creating an Academy of Justice, which would provide training for new attorneys in the office and help keep experienced prosecutors up-to-date on the latest techniques and laws. The proposal was wholeheartedly embraced by the transition team. [If you mean continuous training and retraining of employees...YES! See 14 Point excerpt below on this post. I don't know about "Academy of Justice. Why not just, part of your day sometimes will be re-training (education) on an ongoing basis. I would have NUCH and trainers make YouTube videos as part of ongoing training. THAT'S FREE! ZD can even do it for them, it is so free.]
Judges also weighed in to the transition team, saying many of the criminal attorneys came to court in improper attire, were ill-prepared or were forced to delay court proceedings as they checked with superiors on proposed settlements. [14 points will break down barriers and reduce bureaucracy and inefficiency and empower the attorneys to prevent these types of expensive delays.]
At least one political expert said the report was unusual for the extent to which it criticized Trutanich's predecessor.
"Usually when you do have a transition team you never see reports on what they're recommending and usually they are kinder to the person in office," said Bob Stern, president of the Los Angeles-based Center for Governmental Studies. [That's because you want to make sure you let the whole world know it isn't your fault and it's so bad you shouldn't even be expected to succeed. And Rocky was especially F'd up, so I don't blame them.]
"But I think this is a good idea and I wish more officials would let us know what they're planning to do once they get in office."
But one of the co-chairs of the transition team, former county District Attorney Robert Philibosian, said the report was not intended to cast blame on Delgadillo.
"This was from people with an unbiased view," Philibosian said. "What this is meant to do is point out what's the current situation, here's some new ideas and here's some innovations that should be looked at." [O.K., he wins the spin. You can't argue with that. 14 points says to do that. To what extent it has to be publicized isn't really of benefit, but oh well...you can't keep a secret in this town!]
Philibosian said he helped write a similar transition report for Delgadillo eight years ago, looking at the department's criminal branch.
Former Assembly Speaker Bob Hertzberg, who also co-chaired the transition team, said it will set a bar for Trutanich.[Yeah, sounds like a low one.]
"Law practices have changed a lot and we were looking at what would be the most modern law practice out there," Hertzberg said. "We have set challenges for him to deal with, to make the changes that are necessary and the voters can decide in four years if he has met that goal." [Oh no, don't paint him into a box like that Bob! It's a nearly impossible goal because I don't think you guys are going to go with the 14 Points. So don't say, "in four years voters can decide." You need to say, "We are going to show the people of Los Angeles constant and never-ending improvement throughout his term."
Hertzberg said the biggest problem facing the office is financial, but that can be met by winning liability cases. [NO, the biggest problem facing the office is psychological. You have proven that all the money in the world can't fix things.]
"Hopefully, the city is smart enough to reinvest that money in this office to allow it to do more," Hertzberg said. [That's out of the Deming 14 Points! (See below) Good one, Bob!]
Jane Usher, a special assistant to Trutanich who served as executive director of the transition team, said many of the issues raised - such as morale and personnel issues - will not require major outlays of funds. [Yea! That's what I think, too!]
"What we are trying to do is change the culture of the office," Usher said. "That comes from leadership and effective management." [YES IT DOES! And the first thing you need to ask (based on the 14 points) is, "by what method?" You can't just SAY you are going to do it unless you have methods of achieving the goal. I AM NOT SAYING YOU DO NOT...I AM JUST SAYING I CAN'T WAIT TO SEE SOMETHING BESIDES EXHORTATIONS.]
As an example, Usher said criminal attorneys complained about a lack of support for their efforts, with simple things such as having digital cameras to take pictures of evidence or video cameras to record interviews. [Deming: 5. Improve constantly and forever the system of production and service, to improve quality and productivity, and thus constantly decrease costs. Forget about investing in solar panels, looks like we have something else that needs investing. When all hell is breaking loose, you are not going to call the solar panel department. The City Attorney's office is protecting the city treasury...not solar panels or any of the other nutty stuff the city flushes money down the toilet over. I think all the wasted money you flush down the toilet is what is making the DWP pipes burst.]
Throughout the report, Trutanich is urged to appeal to large law firms in the city to assist with advice on everything from handling cases and training to information technology needs. Also, the report said a number of firms would provide pro bono help with cases. [That's good.]
"The city has a number of world-class law firms, corporate and non-profit law departments, law schools and schools of management," the report said. "The City Attorney should reach out to these resources to form a permanent management advisory group." [I LIKE IT!]
The advisory group would help Trutanich sort out the various recommendations and make sure they are implemented. [NO, the advisory group is good for feedback, but only a leader can make sure it is implemented and it never works with a bureaucratic advisory group. But I need to hear more.]
City Controller Wendy Greuel recently started an audit of the city attorney's workers' compensation program and the use of private attorneys. Greuel , spokesman Ben Golombek said the work on it has just begun. [And with Ben on the case, that's the way it will stay...just begun. Hi, Ben! Whatever Wendy is working on, it's toward the goal of proving why she should be mayor.]
In examining the overall issues of private attorneys, the transition team said the hiring of private attorneys needed to be more closely monitored with checks on the expenses for the firm. [Yes, it IS good to monitor performance through statistics.]
OH YES, a 14 Point EMERGENCY, no doubt! A point for every exhortation. Everything that was said by the City Attorney's office and transition team really does sound good. A lot of good things were said. But it IS a nightmare, and I think the outside consultants shouldn't be legal consultants, but "Methods for Management of Quality and Productivity" consultants. See if Kosaku Yoshida is available. I trained under him, attending his classes and can vouch for him.
OVERALL: This could turn into a nightmare if they just talk and don't fix...but they ARE saying a lot of all the right things at this point. I DO hear a lot of Deming 14 point talk in there. Maybe there's hope. I mean, they WANT to get it right.
HERE ARE EXCERPTS FROM THE 14 POINTS:
6. Institute training on the job.
U.S. Management (and Government) is VERY BUSY. They don't have time for these kinds of details. Managers view training as an expense because they view employees as a commodity -- not an asset. When new employees show up for work on the first day, how many times does a coworker show them what to do?
Management wants the job done right. They institute the rules, regulations and procedures. Each time one employee teaches the next, more is lost in the translation. Mistakes are passes down the line. What gets left out? One person should be responsible for teaching everyone the same skill.
7. Institute leadership. The aim of leadership should be to help people and machines and gadgets to do a better job. Leadership of management is in need of overhaul, as well as leadership of production workers.
Deming on leadership: "What is a leader? As I use the term here, the job of a leaser is to accomplish the transformation of his organization. How may he accomplish transformation?
First, he has a theory, a vision of his organization as it would be if transformed. He understands why the transformation would bring gains to his organization and to all the people that his organization deals with.
Second, he is a practical man. He has a plan, not too difficult. A leader must guide his organization through the stages of transformation. But what is in his head is not enough. He must convince and change enough people in power to make it happen. He possesses persuasive power. He understands people." [ZD: Sorry Deming kept saying "he", ladies. He was born in 1900 and probably meant "he" as in "MANkind."]
8. Drive out fear, so that everyone may work effectively for the company.
Fear is a cause of un-measurable waste and loss. Someone who is fearful takes whatever action necessary to remove the source of fear. These actions do not reflect the company's best interest. Fear robs people of pride and joy in their work and kills all forms of intrinsic motivation. It prevents people from thinking for themselves. They instead concentrate on removing the source of fear (getting the fear "off their back").
For example, a factory worker must build 100 widgets by week's end. His boss tells him, "If you don't finish all these widgets, you're fired!" So, of course the worker gets then done, and they're shipped off to the customer. (Twenty-five are defective, but the employee still hit the quota and has his job.)
Managers who rely on fear believe those working under them are not capable, and this becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. Management must create a work environment where workers can take pride and joy in their work. Don't blame the individual -- fix the system for them.
9. Break down barriers between departments. People in research, design, sales and production must work as a team to foresee problems of production and in use that may be encountered with the product or service.
Have departments work together at all production stages. Everyone must share knowledge in a cooperative (not competitive) effort. In the United States, departments work independently of each other. In Japan, departments work interdependently at all production stages. It doesn't do any good to design a flawless product the sales department can't sell ot the production department can't produce. [ZD: Massive City Hall applications here.]
For example, an automotive design team makes a minor adjustment in the design of their 1995 model. This change would require the production department to make a major overhaul in their process that is not possible. So the design must be sent back and reworked. Meanwhile, production is delayed and time is spent reworking the project. Had both departments cooperated and involved each other from the start of the process, this inefficiency could have been presented.
10. Eliminate slogans, exhortations and targets for the work force asking for zero defects and new levels of productivity. Such exhortations only create adversarial relationships, as the bulk of the causes of low quality and low productivity belong to the system and this lie beyond the power of the work force.
Management likes to hang up a lot of posters with such exhortations as "Zero defects!", "Safety is YOUR responsibility!", or "Our goal is to please the customer at all times!" These slogans seem harmless enough, until they backfire.
How about the company demanding "zero defects", not realizing that a 12-to-15 percent margin of error (defects) is a built-in function of the system, no matter how hard the worker tries. Deming tells of a poster he saw claiming, "Safety is YOUR responsibility", next to a set of factory stairs that had no railing and steps that needed repairing.
To further illustrate, I look back to an experience I had with a rude salesperson. When I asked, "What about the sign over there that says, 'Customer satisfaction is our number one goal", he replied, "I don't know anything about that sign, my boss hung that up."
Management would like to think such exhortations take the responsibility off them and put it on the employee. However, there is no substitute for leadership. Defect elimination, a safe workplace, customer satisfaction, all start in the boardroom. [ZD: In this case, YOUR office, y'all.] It is management's responsibility to improve the system for the individual.
[This is an excerpt that was widely praised in this current form, as written in 1989, so the passage was left in it's original form, because it also captures the tone of Deming, as well, using specific examples from his own seminar. I guess from here, I should get to work and try apply the 14 points to City Hall, specifically. I probably won't be able to prevent myself...stay tuned.]