Tuesday, September 06, 2005

STOP Them Before They Commission Again!!!

Lets stop all the politicians before they ram another failed commission down our throats. We don’t need another stinkin’, failed 9/11 commission on our hands. We need an After Action Review (AAR).

A commission, which is just a fancy Washington DC term for ‘witch hunt’ didn’t solve the problems of 9/11, and won’t solve the disaster preparedness and relief problems we are experiencing over Katrina. All the proposals I’m hearing for commissions and other investigative bodies pay lip service to fixing problems and focus on fixing blame. Everybody wants a “blue ribbon panel of experts”, or some similar nonsense, to come in, give a superficial anal exam (yes, it’s a contradiction in terms, but an intentional one), and then make some heads roll. When they’re done, they quit and go home and we still haven’t fixed anything.

For one thing, there are NO EXPERTS on what happened the past week. We have never faced anything of the magnitude of a major hurricane and major urban flood at the same time before, and we’ve never in modern urban history had to evacuate a major city. Actually, I take that back. There are experts on what happened. They’re the ones who were in the middle of the action – the ones so many people want to establish a blue ribbon panel to lynch.

There’s a reason witch hunts, commissions, lynch mobs, etc, never fix problems: Everybody clams up. Everyone involved goes into CYA mode. The only ‘evidence’ or ‘testimony’ they provide is self-serving claptrap that either hides what happened or, worse, seeks to focus attention and blame on someone else in order to save one’s butt. See the 9/11 commission report and some of the things we’re only finding out now about how far off target they were in many ways. Also, see how well their ‘recommendations’ have paid off in preventing a debacle with Katrina as another example.

OK, so we’ve got a problem, and a commission is not the solution, so what is? How about a professional discussion at every level (each locality, each state-level, and the national level), as well as between each layer of ‘command’ about what the real problems were (root causes, not personalities) and how we prevent them from happening the next time. In the military, we call this an AAR (After Action Review). This is the only way to, as the president put it, “fix what’s wrong, and identify what’s right and duplicate it elsewhere.’

We do this all the time in the military, and the AAR process is most often identified as the ONE MOST IMPORTANT reason we’ve got the best, most professional, and most respected military in the world. We use the AAR process to focus on fixing problems, not fixing blame. AARs don’t result in firings, either, except in one specific instance: If someone goes into an AAR and either doesn’t participate in the spirit of fixing problems in which its intended, or fails to learn from the AAR and apply the fixes afterwards, then they can get fired. We don’t fire those who try and fail, but we fire those who fail to try to make corrections.

Why does the AAR process work? Well, one reason is because everyone in the military understands that we’re there to make the collective organization better, and that you only get fired if you DON’T approach it with a positive attitude. The flip-side of that reason is we can focus on being better prepared to accomplish the mission the next time we have to execute if we know we won’t be fired for telling the truth and recommending solutions. Compare that to what happens in a witch-hunt.

So what does that mean about Katrina? First, we have to ALL stop ALL the damn finger-pointing and name-calling. And that means me, too. When folks started pointing the finger of blame lots of folks started getting defensive and pointing back or pointing at third parties. I know better and I fell into that trap as much as many others as I tried to defend folks I thought weren’t worthy of the fingers pointing at them.

I described in a previous entry what I considered a failure of leadership. Well, I was wrong to do it. I wasn’t there, and I sure as hell don’t know all the facts or factors behind what happened and why. I WILL say, though, that if any of the folks at whom fingers have been pointed don’t drop their shields and their own pointing fingers long enough to professionally discuss and fix the problems, THAT WILL be a failure of leadership.

Another thing this means for Katrina is that the politicians have to back off. No commissions, at least not now, and damn-sure no firings of those who know what happened and can contribute to fixing problems if we give them the chance. We need to let those involved conduct AARs and report their findings and recommendations for fixing things to Congress and the other political bodies involved. Congress can review the AAR findings & recommendations and THEN determine whether or not their concerns have been addressed and whether or not a ‘commission’ is required. After those involved have had a chance to fix themselves, then you can appoint your commissions and conduct your witch hunts, but they can be focused on folks who fail to learn from the ‘lessons learned’ or fail to implement the recommended fixes. Why? Because it’s those who don’t want to learn from this mess that deserve to be fired, not those who did their best in the middle of a completely unique and complex situation, came up short, but are determined to do better next time.

That’s what I think MY lesson-learned is.


P.S. I’ll continue to defend those that I think deserve defending, but I’ll try to do so without pointing fingers. On the other hand, expect me vilify anyone who is more interested in fixing blame than fixing problems.


Blogger RADNIECKI said...

I'm new to this site, so I'm not sure where I should've posted this comment. I was listening to Mark Levin via the 'net (I live in Fargo, ND) and he was commenting on Hillary's "we need a Katrina Commission" remark. Of course, we all know how Mark loves Hillary. He stated he doesn't think she was one of the 100 top lawyers in America as the Clinton camp would have us believe back in '92. Anyway, a few years ago, I was listening to a talk show (don't remember which) but the host was talking to a lawyer from Arkansas who once worked with Hillary. He stated that not only is she NOT one of the top 100 lawyers in America, she wasn't even in the top 100 lawyers in Arkansas. He wasn't being facetious, or humerous, but he was being very "matter of fact." My comment to Hillary is the same as "The Great One" would say. "SHUT UP YOU BIG DOPE!!!"

3:51 PM  
Blogger Maj D said...

Everybody's new to this site, or at least to this blog (founded three days ago), so don't worry protocol as there isn't one, yet.

Unfortunately, SEN Clinton is far from the only politician more interested in a commission approach than an AAR approach to the needed review.

4:48 PM  

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