Clearing up the confusion! – Understanding the Government of America

Representative Deb Haaland (D) sent out an email recently claiming America is a “Constitutional Democracy.”  I will endeavor to correct this confusion using simple terms, for Representative Haaland’s benefit, please allow me to elaborate.

A Republic finds its history lodged in the writings of Plato, who called a republic “possessing the structure and composition of the ideal state.”  James Madison provides America with the only definition needed for America to be a democracy, “We may define a republic to be … a government which derives all its powers directly or indirectly from the great body of the people; and is administered by persons holding their offices during pleasure, for a limited period, or during good behaviour [Emphasis added].”  A republic is a government system where the supreme power rests in the body of citizens entitled to vote and is exercised by representatives chosen directly or indirectly by them.  Finally, a republic is recognized by the head of the government not being a monarch or other hereditary head of state.  America has a Constitution that leaves all the power of the government in the hands of her legal citizens.  Legal citizens are not impostor aliens or terrorists captured on a battlefield; thus, US Constitutional Rights do not apply or cover these entities.  A Republic is formed around the principle that through property ownership, freedom is generated.  A Republic requires time, majorities that clearly surpass a simple majority, and when personal property is threatened or removed from individual citizens, that republic slips into a democracy.  A Democracy cannot climb into being a Republic, but the Republic can be reduced to a democracy.

Democracy, is associated with the “rule by the people” or a simple majority wins.  The associations of democracy have become more twisted since the mid-1930s and therein lies the problem, democracies have existed under the feudal system of government, the communists have tried to instill democratic changes, and dictators like Maduro in Venezuela have employed democracy.  Democracy other than being dangerous, is the belief that a simple majority rules for everyone.  Winston Churchill is correct, “No one pretends that democracy is perfect or all-wise. Indeed, it has been said that democracy is the worst form of government except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.”  The reason democracy is dangerous is the belief that people control the rule when they have nothing to do with the ruling.  Rulers of a democracy are not bound by the “Rule of Law” they are only restricted by statistics reported in opinion polls, which Mark Twain aptly called, “Damned lies.”

Consider the United Kingdom is a “Democratic Polyarchy” as they have a hereditary monarch ruler, and a democratic parliament, when the people demanded an exit from the European Union, the supposedly democratic parliament stymied and thwarted the people’s will to keep the United Kingdom in the European Union.  Venezuela is a democracy where the constitution was destroyed for personal power, the country was bankrupted for the enrichment of the few, and the people are now left starving wondering where their country went.

America’s founders were interested in creating a representative democracy, under a republican form of government to protect the property rights of individuals that generate the most freedom for the most people.  Under a republican form of government, everyone is first bound by the rule of law, in America’s case, the code we are all united under is the US Constitution, where even the government must answer to the lowest of citizens.  Important to note, a Republican form of government, does not mean that the Political Party “Republicans” are the party to rule exclusively.  The plasticization of words and terms continues to create confusion being where politics is concerned.

America was never expected to be a direct democracy, where Representative Haaland (D) is basing her erroneous statement regarding America being a “Constitutional Democracy.”  Here is where the fallacy resides, a constitutional democracy would only require a simple majority to enact new clauses in the constitution.  America’s Constitution requires ¾’s of the individual US States to ratify a Constitutional Amendment after the Constitutional Amendment has won supermajorities in the US House of Representatives and the Senate.  Thus, any fourth-grade student who has passed American History can tell how and why America is NOT a “Constitutional Democracy” as stated by Representative Haaland,  “Constitutional Democracy” is fallacious, deceiving, and meant to create confusion in the populace.  Since Representative Haaland (D) and Senator Udall (D) continue to disregard their own constituents, I expect more but have come to realize they will not adhere to providing a higher level of respect for the offices they individually hold, representing their constituents across the political spectrum.

Since we are discussing the rule of law, republics, and other related topics, let us dig a little into an item that is killing America and her freedom, the loss of private property.  Charles Reich, an American legal and social scholar as well as an author who was a Professor at Yale Law School, writes a paper every American citizen needs to read and be concerned over, this paper is referenced below, and the link is active.

Starting in the 1930s, during the “Great Depression,” changes were made to America’s methods of governance by the President, a willing media, and sycophants in the Senate and House, where the Federal and State Governments could begin to rule by largesse; picking winners and losers based upon obeisance to a bureaucrat’s whims, wishes, and will.  Reich lays out this history, walks the reader through the laws, and makes the case that because of democratic rule America’s Republic has been reduced to a feudal system where the government decides who gets the largesse and who does not.  With the Federal and State Governments making these decisions, business do not compete fairly upon their own merits, but upon how much taxpayer money they can bamboozle from Uncle Sam.  Unfortunately, the entire system hinges upon reducing private property ownership, and the freedoms private property allows, to feed the ever-hungry beast of Government consumption.

A perfect example is found in K-12 Schools; when a school insists they need more money from the taxpayer, they blame poverty and race as to why their students cannot learn, unless more money is poured into a failing school to purchase a “magic-bullet,” e.g., expensive new toy, technology, or program.  Providing three lies in one, and excusing designed incompetence for the failure of students who have been abused by the teachers.  Race governing ability is the first lie.  Poverty dictating intellect forms the second lie.  More money being needed in K-12 Education is the third lie.  The designed incompetence that allows or encourages, a teacher to pass a student that does not meet the standards of learning, is an abuse of students, not a problem of funding.  Here is government largesse in action, if the school board does not adhere to the lies of race and poverty affecting intellectual ability, that school does not get more money.  Repeatedly, we see these lies vociferously declared in the media, that poverty and race are holding a school/student back, and the government needs to spend more money.  When in reality, leadership in the school, reinstating the authority of the teacher, and respect is what is required for those schools, not more government largess, and indeed not another program or technology that no one can afford, and that will fail to achieve the sales pitch.

Thus, America needs to demand change through the ballot box, to insist that freedom and private property are returned to the people, and those representatives who have no moral center, or cannot serve their constituents from both parties equally, are removed from politics, indefinitely!  Since America is a Republic, and not a democracy (yet!), the problems in representation can be solved.

Reference

Charles A. Reich, The New Property, 73 Yale L.J. (1964). Available at: https://digitalcommons.law.yale.edu/ylj/vol73/iss5/1

 

© 2019 M. Dave Salisbury

All Rights Reserved

The images used herein were obtained in the public domain; this author holds no copyright to the images displayed.

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Poverty and Race Do Not Dictate Ability: Shifting the Educational Paradigm

From the 1960s, educators began believing and living a belief that poor minority students cannot succeed or learn to the same quality of rich white children.  This belief changed how K-12 Education was funded, supported by the government, and directed resources for education in America’s cities and towns.  Back in 1995, Milwaukee, WI., Douglas B. Reeves forever sundered the fallacious belief that poverty and race do not chain a student’s mind.  Except in 2019, the lie continues that if you are not white and rich K-12 education is going to be forever out of reach, that your poverty status means you cannot achieve, and your race will dictate how smart you are.  Race and poverty are still the demographic drums used to bleed resources, damage education, and stifle educational innovations.  Well, I say it is past time to cease the madness and demand those in education either reform or leave; for they are committing child abuse with their racist lies for personal gain and political power.

Referring to the Standards for Teacher Competence in Educational Assessments of Students (1990), a parent can find five areas of scoring a student’s teacher for quality of classroom efforts.  These five standards include:

  1. Is the teacher prepared before they instruct the class?
    1. This includes support from the school principals and the administrative staff at the school board level.
    2. The student should be evaluating themselves for preparation before classroom instruction for their personal desires to learn and work assignments completed.
    3. The teacher’s preparation should include written activities to measure student performance and be graded against a standardized scoring system.
  2. Does the teacher use a variety of activities and approaches during the instructional time to aid student comprehension? If so, what activities are being used?  If not, why?
    1. Get this answer early and check with the student often for compliance.
    2. Use the teacher-parent conference to obtain the teacher’s input.
    3. Never allow a teacher to single-mode and done a learning activity, this is a sign of a lazy teacher.
  3. What is the teacher doing to connect with students after instructional time activities?
    1. Student aid with long and short-term goal attainment.
    2. Communicating student strengths and weaknesses clearly to students and parents.
    3. Being engaged in curriculum correction with the principal and the school board.
  4. Are the teacher’s advice, comments, and suggestions being sought by the school principal and their administrative staff for both the local school and the school board? If not, hold the school board accountable and the principal responsible for ignoring the needs of the teacher.
    1. Teachers have first-hand accounts of how the environment, building facilities, technology, etc. are influencing and affecting the student learning process.
    2. Teachers are not the sole reason student’s fail, struggle, or succeed.
    3. If it takes a town to raise a child, then the teacher should be considered as a tool, a small part, in building the child, and while the teacher is often the face of the school, the teacher is part of a team. Know who to hold responsible!
  5. What is the teacher doing in the broader community of educators?
    1. This question goes beyond simple professional development and continuing education.
    2. This question points to the support the school and the district provide time to the teacher for involvement, and encouragement to pursue professional opportunities.
    3. Ask the teacher how well they are encouraged and supported to pursue professional involvement. Just do not lay the blame with the teacher if they express they are not fulfilled professionally.

Nowhere in those assessments of a teacher is the race of the child considered, the financial aspect of the children’s family regarded, or any other demographic considered.  The Standards for Teacher Competence provides for measuring teachers, why does the lie regarding race and poverty remain so prevalent; the answer lies in the school administrations, the amount of money available, and the expensive cars parked at the school district headquarters.  The school administrations have become fat and stifling upon the tax dollars used in education, the size of the school administration is killing education, robbing teachers of funds for the classroom, and ruining children’s opportunities for growth; precisely the opposite of the job the school administrators was hired to perform.

Reeves (2003) cites Peters and Waterman (1982) “In Search of Excellence” for the role and duties of the school administrators.

  • Focus upon academic achievement
  • Provides clear curriculum choices and support teachers
  • Opens the schedule for frequent assessments which provide students multiple opportunities to improve
  • Emphasizes nonfiction writing
  • Employs collaborative scoring of student work using standard grading guidelines
  • Builds a learning environment focused upon persistent, consistent, and reliable assessments reflecting student efforts and teacher support

Nowhere in Peters and Waterman’s (1982) work is race a contributing factor in brains or abilities.  Nowhere is the financial situation a student arrives at a classroom from reflecting a causal variable in classifying a student who can and cannot handle workloads in K-12 education.  That the belief that race and poverty influence abilities to learn is a lie has been known since as early as the mid-1960s; yet, this pernicious belief continues to saddle minority and poverty students with ever-decreasing standards, less focus in education upon factors that can improve the student’s ability to learn, and activities that challenge the student to excel.

Here is what the lie regarding poverty and race looks like in practice, using Albuquerque Public Schools (APS) as an example.  Please feel free to use your public schools as an example to rate the school district, the school principal, and the teachers of your communities’ children.

  • APS is the 31st-largest school district in the US
    • 20% of New Mexicans age 16 and older have literacy skills at level 1, the lowest level on a scale of 1 to 5.
    • New Mexico ranks 50th out of the 50-American States with a D- or a score of 66.2%.
    • As the biggest school district in New Mexico, APS has nothing to crow about as they are central to the low scores and literacy problems in NM.
  • Capital budget: nearly $1 billion in both new educational facility capital projects as well as improvements and refurbishments in the district’s schools between 2010 and 2016.
  • Current Projects: FD&C currently has 146 projects in design or construction totaling approximately $378 million
  • Square Feet: approximately 15 million square feet of traditional school buildings, portable classrooms, and administrative offices and facilities
    • From the Bernalillo County website, there are several graphs worthy of attention. Specifically, Figure 12: Bernalillo County, NM Detailed Education Attainment Breakout by Race (Age 25+).
      • 9% of Hispanic populations do not have a high school diploma or GED equivalent.
      • 3% of the American Indian population does not finish high school or attain a GED.
      • 3% of the white demographic does not complete high school or attain a GED.
    • Speaking volumes of the efficacy of the school board to address the problems in APS, and even more about the “10% dropout” rate APS crows about as a success factor. How many of those graduating are functionally illiterate and unable to obtain work after graduation?
    • Having spoken with teachers, it is blatantly evident that APS passes students who do not possess the skills, because of the restrictions placed upon the teachers to teach to the students, and not to a program, a system, or a process.
    • With nearly 50% of the population in Bernalillo County identifying as Hispanic, and almost 50% not finishing high school, when Reeves (2003) cites the equity gap caused by the lie that poverty and race dictate educational ability, here is the gap illustrated.
    • Yet, for all the billions of dollars APS oversees for education in Bernalillo County, the gap has not shrunk, ever.
  • APS believes in “magic-bullet” programs to “fix the gap;” proving again that insanity is doing the same thing repeatedly expecting different results. New in 2019 in APS school systems is yet, one more sure-fire, quick-fix, strategy to fix the poverty and race gap in education, and the results will be the same next year and the year after that, ad nauseum, ad infinitum.

America, you are the power that keeps the school districts alive.  Use the five points provided to assess the teachers, use the six-points above to evaluate and measure the school board, school administration, and principal, and then every time you see a school board, teacher, or principal out of compliance, demand change!  There is no excuse for an almost 60-year old lie to continue to thrive.  There is no valid excuse for failing to teach students in the K-12.  Poverty and race do not hamper or hinder when teachers are prepared, and schools are appropriately led, focused, and each student is assessed for consistent, persistent, and reliable growth.  Demand better; our kids deserve more!

© 2019 M. Dave Salisbury

All Rights Reserved

The images used herein were obtained in the public domain, this author holds no copyright to the images displayed.

Uncomfortable Truths – Where is the Accountability for Designed Incompetence?

I-CareThe Department of Veterans Affairs Office of the Inspector General (VA-OIG) conducted a review and sent the following report on their findings, “… the Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA) incorrectly processed more than half of the 62,500 claims decided in the first six months of 2018.”  A less than 50% accuracy rate is unacceptable in every business, organization, and school; yet, the VBA gets a pass on designed incompetence?  Why?  Already veterans must scrounge, dig, and provide endless reams of supporting proof, or new and material evidence, to obtain a “service-connected rating” for injuries and disabilities stemming from military service.  For the most part, the veteran accepts this as the cost of receiving treatment, and for the VBA to incorrectly process less than 50% of the claims, where spines are concerned, is deplorable performance.

In support of the claim that this is designed incompetence, the following is quoted from the VA-OIG report, “… incorrectly decided claims resulted from VBA’s inadequate process for ensuring accurate and complete evaluation. VBA’s primary means of evaluating disability contains minimal guidance, and a procedure manual is too subjective in key areas, which can lead to an inconsistent evaluation for related conditions stemming from the primary disability.”  The VA designed the processes for the VBA to follow.  Hence the incompetence is designed into the system to create additional problems, issues, and pain for the veteran.  Leading to a question for the elected officials in Federal Service, “Why are you allowing this nightmare to continue?”

Spine AnatomyAs a business consultant and industrial-organizational psychologist, I counsel those hiring me to never allow a process to reach a second birthday without a full and complete review.  When training deficiencies are found, immediate action is required, and that action must be documented.  Why is the VBA getting a pass on not training, not designing competent and reliable working processes, and not held accountable for performance that meets a passing score?  Not mentioned in this VA-OIG report, due to being outside the scope of the investigation, is the longevity of this single issue.  Why is a Congressional Blue-Ribbon panel not demanding historical information, and detailing for the American Taxpayer, especially the veterans involved, the significance of the rating problems and holding accountable those who designed the incompetence into the process?  By the time the VA-OIG reports are released for public distribution, there is supposed to be an alert to the Congressional Committees overseeing these government agencies.  The media is often alerted at the same time the Congressional Committees are informed; yet, a failing score in rating the “Spinal conditions [accounting] for two of VA’s top 10 service-connected disabilities, doesn’t even merit crickets.  Media why not stop reporting junk, and start reporting problems needing rectification?

If you want the full report, use the following link.  The full report is design incompetence of the greatest magnitude.  Elected officials, it is past time for action on the issue of design incompetence that allows substandard performance in government service!

Where designed incompetence continues to be the applicable excuse for poor performance, look no further than the Veterans Health Administration (VHA).  The VA-OIG report on Hospice and Palliative Care (HPC) is a full-on description of design incompetence to rival the VBA and maintain their lead on abusing veterans for personal power.  Consider the following, “… The OIG determined that 10.3 percent of the reviewed patients had a formal HPC consult or an HPC-related interaction/conversation without a designated HPC consult or stop code.”  Of those records, the 10.3% who were appropriately handled, and the 87.3% handled improperly, 100% of the patients reviewed experienced issues where “… administrative data did not reflect all HPC services provided by VHA. Inaccurate administrative data indicate that VHA has an incomplete understanding of how much HPC service it is providing or how much is needed, which could affect [the] allocation of resources and planning.”  Design incompetence allowed for every patient to have problems with information related, services the HPC provided, and the “VHA has opportunities to ensure that HPC consults are documented and coded accurately to account for HPC services.”  “Opportunities,” 100% of the records had administrative issues, 89.7% were improperly handled, “opportunities” might be a slight understatement.  Show me a successful business where 89% of the customers are mishandled, and 100% of the customers are provided inaccurate information when contacting the company for answers, and I will show you the floating mountains of Pandora in reality!

Secretary Wilkie has his hands full, and entirely tied, by the bureaucracy, employee inertia, and the uphill battle with intentional design incompetence that allows people who have been in their jobs since Adam and Eve left the Garden of Eden, to still not know how to perform their job.  Federally elected officials, I must ask, “How can a VA employee qualify for retirement or continued employment, without knowing the job, or doing, the job they were hired or promoted for?”  Like fingers on a hand, the Federally Elected Officials have employees placed in leadership positions doing the business of the elected officials, if those employees cannot honorably do the jobs, they do not need to remain in your service, as you serve those who chose you on the ballot.  Is this pattern clear?  The voters hold you responsible for how well the government works, why are you not holding those in your service accountable and responsible for their inaction and their designed incompetence that promotes a ready-made excuse for dismal performance?

From personal experience, design incompetence is the only excuse many VA employees have, and the excuse is worthless.  There is a director of a major department of a statewide VA Health Care System, who refuses to write things down for fear of being held accountable.  Hence, every employee under this director’s leadership has adopted the same philosophy, no written guidance, written policy, no written procedures, and this situation is considered acceptable direction to this directors’ superiors.  Design incompetence is fought by holding individuals personally accountable, training, and using the performance management process to improve adherence and compliance.  For the VBA and the VHA to continue to allow design incompetence to excuse the inexcusable is a leadership issue which needs immediate Federal Elected Official intervention in support of Secretary Wilkie.  Please give him the tools needed to clean house, correct deficiencies, and establish sound policies to move the VA forward successfully!  The tools include a muzzle on the union, improved hiring, and support for eliminating thugs, criminals, and incompetence at every level of the VA hierarchy.

© 2019 M. Dave Salisbury

All Rights Reserved

The images used herein were obtained in the public domain; this author holds no copyright to the images displayed.

 

Experience + Education + Time + Reflection = Knowledge: The Knowledge Transfer Process

The Rule of 7-P’s can be expressed two different ways, that then communicate two significantly different outcomes; yet, both expressions are intertwined and cannot be separately employed.

Proper Prior Planning Produces Potentially Positive Performance

or

Proper Prior Planning Prevents Purely Poor Performance

When discussing the Rule of 7-P’s and knowledge transfer, both methods of communicating the rule remains continuously applicable. For example, a toddler takes a table knife and starts to insert the table knife into an electric outlet. The adults, knowing that a discussion about electricity, the potential electricity has for causing burns, shocks, and fires will be lost on the toddler; thus the adult simply takes the knife, shouts NO!, and maybe smacks the child. What knowledge was transferred; the lack of a plan in this knowledge transfer opportunity has resulted in poor performance. However, the argument remains, what will a toddler learn without experiential knowledge? For a potentially positive knowledge transfer process, why not create a plan and turn a negative into a positive?

Providing the next variable in knowledge transfer, KISS, or “Keeping (IT) Supremely Simple.” The “IT” here can be the plan needing to be simple, the words employed, the method of knowledge transfer, etc.; all of these are variables in the knowledge transfer process. The principle is the requirement to transfer knowledge simply. Whether the audience is a toddler, a teenager, or an adult, the principle remains, keep (IT) supremely simple. Now, I have been reprimanded for insisting that adults need simple knowledge transfer; I continue to disagree. How many adults enter a training opportunity with nothing else on their minds than the coming learning? How many adults have shut down their lives for the training to enable full concentration for knowledge transfer success? Hence the need to communicate simply even for adults.

Agency; in all the world, there is no variable more powerful. Agency, as defined by Aristotle, is an agent in action. The agent is a body with the power to choose, the action is choosing, and natural consequences follow. Agency is a binary solution, act or do not act. Both choices possess consequences that will be valued by the individual through choice, who will then follow the logic of past choices and valuations into a determined destiny.

Communication, or knowledge transfer, provides a sender and a receiver in interaction the opportunity to act and will share both individual and combined natural consequences. Consider the toddler and the adult; the adult wants to keep the toddler safe. The toddler wants to discover. Connected the toddler and the adult share an experience (table knife and an electric outlet) with consequences, and individually, they will enjoy or suffer consequences as well as collectively they will have consequences. A consequence is neutral, the value of the consequence e.g., good or bad, positive or negative, relies upon the individual to choose, or exercise agency as an empowered agent. Every agent possessing the power to choose will exercise that power, and cannot escape the consequence.

Self-determination is often confused with agency, even sometimes used synonymously for agency, but self-determination is not agency. Keeping these two items, separate and distinct, remains imperative. Self-determination is defined as “the process by which a person controls their own life.” Thus, agency is a binary solution and not a process. Self-determination is a process, or a logical movement from one instance of an agent acting to another in a continuous chain of events, or cycles, of perception, choosing, evaluating, consequence, leading back to a new choice opportunity. Knowledge transfer relies upon self-determination as the sender cannot dictate how the knowledge sent will be employed. Only the receiver can determine the usefulness, the value, and the application. To blame the sender for knowledge transfer failing is mentally disingenuous at best, since the sender and the receiver share conjoined responsibility for the knowledge transfer process, the consequences of agentic action, and individual effects that are stemming from the knowledge transfer interaction.

Sine Qua Non a Latin phrase meaning “an indispensable and essential action, condition, or ingredient.” Trust is the Sine Qua Non in knowledge transfer opportunities. Trust is always playing a role, but the sender will generally not know if they are a trusted source. Trust remains an essential ingredient in all knowledge transfer opportunities. With trust between agents, knowledge transfer occurs almost effortlessly. Without trust between agents, knowledge is always doubted, efforts to transfer knowledge are more difficult, and the consequences of the lack of trust might not be realized immediately. Trust is based upon experience, time, and contains many different degrees, or shades. For example, the toddler might not convey they trust the adult, but the toddler will remember their interactions with the adult, and these remembered interactions build over time and experiences. One day that toddler will be able to vocalize trust, and the adult in that situation will then be faced with knowledge for good or ill.

Realtors have a saying, a rule, an aphorism, “Location, Location, Location.” Knowledge transfer is also contingent upon location, many times, this variable is conveyed as the environment. Regardless, where knowledge is transferred remains an aspect of prior planning that determines positive or poor performance. Just as realtors often overlook location, the knowledge transfer process, without a plan, will stumble over the location. Consider the following, while serving in the US Navy, an officer was observed attempting to transfer knowledge while a sailor used a pneumatic needle gun to chip paint. Chipping paint on steel requires ear protection, many times there is a desire for dual-ear protection, earplugs, and a set of over the ear, foam insulated, muffs. The officer was then observed holding the sailor accountable for the knowledge transferred, to the sailor’s detriment. Other times this same officer was observed transferring knowledge in engine spaces, with running machinery in the background; with the same result, the sailor was held accountable for not receiving the knowledge the officer was sending. Time after time, the same lesson is available, proper prior planning produces potentially positive performance, provided the plan understands location, location, location.

Knowledge transfer relies upon A Priori and A Posteriori knowledge to understand and onboard what is being provided. Humans are creatures that build, and experience builds knowledge, and education combined with experience, builds knowledge. The valuation of developed knowledge is personally known and evaluated continuously then compared with present situations and available experiential knowledge. The human brain will always be trying and testing A Posteriori knowledge, A Priori knowledge, against explicit, tacit, procedural, descriptive/declarative knowledge bases to build new knowledge from current experience. With this retesting will come the natural consequence of new valuations, where something highly valued suddenly becomes less valued or even rejected outright. Thus, the oft-repeated need for proper prior planning in transferring knowledge; without a plan, or with a poor plan, potentially positive performance is not obtainable.

Murphy’s Law states, “No plan survives first contact intact.” Some people take this law and then refuse to plan. Other people take this law and plan redundancies Ad Infinitum, but never carry out a single plan. The most effective people take this law, realize the potential, and will create plans flexible enough to accommodate reality, while confidently moving forward with the plan to achieve the desired end goal. An agent in action will choose who they are where planning is concerned, and the resulting consequences thus create societies, learners, communities, and other collections of empowered agents that are drawn to those with similar choice and valuation cycles — providing the variable in knowledge transfer second to agency, peers.

A peer group, as mentioned, forms around a group of agents that follow similar thought patterns and valuation cycles. For example, smokers know the dangers of smoking, but continue to smoke, and quitting requires choosing a different peer group before the smoker can quit. While other smokers surround the smoker, quitting is either a “pie crust promise, easily made and easily broken,” or an unfulfilled wish, due to the peers chosen with which to associate. The choice and perceived valuation cycle prevent peer reevaluation; thus, the smoker will continue to smoke. Knowledge transfer is dependent upon peer influence. Consider, if the sender is not trusted by one member of the peer group, the entire peer group will be influenced, and knowledge transfer will suffer accordingly. Even if the individual has a different evaluation of the sender through experience.

Consider the following example, while serving in the US Navy, an officer was charged to teach a class on handgun safety. The officer began the class by pointing a handgun at the audience. The officer was trying to teach a basic rule of handgun safety: “if you do not personally know a handgun is loaded, all handguns are presumed loaded.” However, this lesson failed horribly! Everyone in the class had a different perception of the lesson and related their experience to their peers. Thus, trust for this officer plummeted and interfered with every lesson this officer taught throughout his career. The officer was a subject matter expert, had tremendous insight, and could impact people for good. This single incident followed him from ship-to-ship, and doubt in their capability to teach was sown, all through peer-to-peer communication, and the influence of peer groups.

The importance of understanding the Rule of 7-P’s, KISS, agency, trust, location/environment, Murphy’s Laws, peer groups, and self-determination, forms foundational knowledge needed to build a training program, improve teaching and training, and enhance the process of knowledge transfer. Thus, it behooves all agents to have this information to enhance learning and improve teaching performance. The cycle is clear, “we teach that we may learn more perfectly, so we may teach more correctly, and then learn more perfectly.”

© 2019 M. Dave Salisbury

All Rights Reserved

The images used herein were obtained in the public domain, this author holds no copyright to the images displayed.

Honest Praise – Catch Your People Doing Good!

My professional library has many books, from many authorities, regarding how to lead, leading in change, crisis leadership, and more.  Except that none of these books ever discusses the most critical tool in a leader’s toolbox, issuing honest, timely, and relevant praise.

I am one of those people who had to repeat a grade in school, and I am glad I did, for it provided an opportunity to meet Miss Murphy in the Governor Anderson Elementary School, Belfast, Maine.  Miss Murphy has a smiling face, but you know there is a stick hiding nearby if needed.  Miss Murphy laughed and smiled, and was the first principal I had witnessed behaving in this manner.  Miss Murphy had laser eyes that sparkled with mirth and could freeze rushing water.  Miss Murphy was a nun who went into the world to make the world better, especially for children.

As an energetic person, a person with problems with authority, and a guy, I spent an inordinate amount of time in the principal’s office in school.  Please note, I am not bragging here, just recognizing an “uncomfortable truth.”  Miss Murphy related a story to me, from her childhood, about how she had been called to be a student crossing guard, where she exercised her authority a little too much, and some kids cried, parents called the school, and complaints were issued.  Her school principal called her into his office, she could clearly see on his desk the complaint forms, but her principal spent more than 10-minutes praising her leadership ability, her genuine care for smaller kids, and other observations where her good personality had been witnessed.  Miss Murphy claimed she left his office forever changed.

The day Miss Murphy related this story to me, she praised me.  I knew that she knew, I had heckled a teacher mercilessly in an unwarranted manner.  I knew that she knew, I had committed several other offenses needing her judgment and punishment.  Yet, she provided honest praise, where she had observed quietly, and she concluded this visit to her office with the words, “From these observations, I know there is good inside you.”  I can honestly say, this was the worst chewing out I ever had in a school principal’s office.  I left her office that day, feeling small and insignificant like never before, but also feeling like a million bucks and dedicated to being caught more often doing good.  More to the point, I had discovered what a leader is and made a friend that I wanted, desired, and hoped I could receive more praise from.

To the leaders in business, I would make the plea, “Catch your people doing good.”  Catch them regularly, praise them honestly, issue the praise promptly, and you will shortly see new behaviors, attitudes, and cultures in your workplace.  I have published this plea previously and been asked some questions, below are the questions and some examples to get started.

  1. Isn’t all praise honest?
    • No, all praise is not honest. A pernicious lie has been passed around that criticism can be constructive; this fallacy needs squashed forever and cast upon the bad ideas from history.  You cannot build people by criticizing them.  There is never anything “constructive” in criticism!
    • Honest praise is precisely that, honest and sincere. You mean what you say, and say what you mean.  Hence, when you feel thank you is insufficient, leave a note in a distinctive color praising the efforts observed.
    • For example, I witnessed a leader who used praise to help ease the pain of failure. A subordinate had worked hard to make a satisfy a customer and fix a problem caused by the company.  The customer refused the apology and swore revenge, making the efforts of this customer agent useless.  The leader recognized the efforts and issued praise for trying, for being a generally successful customer advocate, and for going above and beyond.  The customer agent never realized someone beyond their team leader had observed their efforts, and the employee broke down in tears of gratitude for the honest praise issued.  I personally witnessed renewed dedication from this employee, and the impetus for change was the note of praise.
  2. Timely praise; why does praise need to be timely?
    • Timely praise is all about recognizing and issuing praise while the events are still fresh, and when the praise issued has a real chance at affecting an individual’s future efforts. Timely is all about being engaged in that exact moment and stopping to recognize, through praise, the efforts, trials, and experiences of others.
    • I worked at a company for three years, in what became my last quarter, I was issued praise for actions taken during my first month on the job. Honestly, that praise was useless to me, and while I didn’t fully spurn the efforts at recognition, I certainly was not swayed, inspired, or even influenced by the praise issued.  However, other incidents where praise was issued timelier has been more influential; thus, the need for timely praise.
    • The employee mentioned above, the effort expended occupied time Monday through the disastrous conclusion on Thursday. The employee came in to find praise and recognition on Friday Morning.  Timely, honest appreciation, proved to be what was needed and changed a life.
  3. Why should praise be offered regularly?
    • Let’s be honest, issuing praise adds work to your day. You have to make observations, then you have to issue praise, and this is a generally thankless effort; especially when you have to “Wash, Rinse, and Repeat” countless times to visualize a return on your time and effort investment.  I guarantee this effort will not last, no changes will be realized, and this attitude will be observed to cause more problems, not less.
    • Let’s be honest, issuing praise is fun. Witnessing a person who has been caught doing good provides excitement to replicate.  Catching a person doing good provides me a pleasure valve release from the stress of meetings, monthly and quarterly reports, and the hassles of leading an organization.  Issuing praise allows me to get out of my office, make human contact, and enjoy the people side of my job.  I guarantee this effort will last, that deep life-altering impact will be felt by those working for this leader, and employee problems will reduce to the lowest common denominator.
    • Regular praise issuance means you are fully committed to giving praise, and this effort will be reciprocated in a manner unexpected. Like the contagious smile, issuing honest, timely, regular praise, will catch fire and the contagion will spread and permeate throughout the office like wildfire.  Your customers will even catch the disease of issuing praise.
  4. Isn’t issuing praise just “puffery” or building snowflakes?
    • No! A thousand times; NO!  Honest praise, timely issued, and regularly provided is not “puffery,” but a direct extension of how you feel towards another person.  A child brings their mother a dandelion.  Does the mother squash the flower as just messy, or takes the flower and doesn’t issue thanks to the child; no.  Why should workplace praise and gratitude be any different than the child and their mother?
    • Issuing praise and showing gratitude is treating others how you prefer to be treated. Do you like seeing your efforts recognized; then recognize others.  Do you like being provided expressions of gratitude; then pass out gratitude.  People take cues from their leaders’ actions more than their words; issuing praise and recognition is an action with monumental power.
    • Myron Tribus asked a question about the purpose of a business essentially asking, “Is the purpose of your business to be a cash spigot or to improve the world?” If cash spigot, you would never issue praise or gratitude, and the money is the only focus.  In this scenario, expect high employee churn, higher employee stress, and poor employee morale.  If the purpose is to build the world, why not start by building the internal customer?  Do you issue thank you’s to your customers; why not issue gratitude first to your internal customer, the employee?
  5. Do adults, and working professionals really need all this praise?
    • Mark Twain said, “I can live for two months on a good compliment.” Yes; working professionals do need to be praised.  However, because they are adults, false praise, criticism couched as praise, and fake praise is easily detected, and the resulting consequences are terrible to witness.
    • While serving in the US Navy, I experienced a Chief Engineering Officer who faked praise, criticized through praise thinking he was constructive, and his efforts turned the Engineering Department’s morale from high to depressing in less than seven days. The Engineering Department went from winning awards and recognition to absolute failure in inspections, drills, and daily activities in less than two-weeks.  The recovery of the Engineering Department’s morale never occurred in the remaining two-years I had in my US Navy contract and featured a big reason why I left the US Navy.
    • Thus, to reiterate; YES! Yes, adults need honest, timely, and regular praise.  Yes, praise is a tool that can be wielded to effect significant positive change or can be wielded to decimate and destroy.  Choose wisely!

 

© 2019 M. Dave Salisbury

All Rights Reserved

The images used herein were obtained in the public domain, this author holds no copyright to the images displayed.

 

Tragedies, Travesties, and Uncomfortable Truths – Shifting the Paradigm at the Department of Veterans Affairs

For the uninitiated, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has three chief administrations the Veterans Health Administration (VHA), the Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA), and the National Cemetery (NC).  The majority of the problems a veteran is going to experience originates in decisions from the VBA, which then influence care with the VHA.

I believe in giving credit where, and when credit is due; thus, please join me in congratulating the VBA for meeting a significant milestone.  From the VBA press release we find the following:

“On August 11th, VA updated portions of the rating schedule that evaluate infectious diseases, immune disorders and nutritional deficiencies. By updating the rating schedule, Veterans now receive decisions based on the most current medical knowledge of their condition.”

The reason this is good news stems from so many veterans leaving the military with problems caused in the service where the VBA has dictated there is no injury due to the rating scales, forcing the VHA into a treatment problem where the patient is concerned.  More on the rating scales issue momentarily.

I-CarePlease join me in mourning another death at the hands of the VHA, which is labeled by the Department of Veterans Affairs Office of Inspector General (VA-OIG) as “largely preventable.”  A patient in the West Palm Beach VA Medical Center was in a mental health unit and committed suicide.  Largely preventable is a vast understatement when hospital leaders only begin caring about the veteran committing suicide after the suicide, where training and policy adherence was not mandated prior to the suicide, and the lack of cameras and staff monitoring allowed for a patient, already having trouble and this trouble is known to the hospital providing treatment, to take their own life.  No staff monitoring every 15-minutes was occurring; why?  Why were the cameras non-functioning?  How long had these problems been known and nothing was being done to correct these discrepancies.

Let me emphasize a truth about suicide.  A person expressing desire to suicide is not weak or lazy, and they will not “find a way.”  Having had depression sufficient to consider suicide in the past, I can tell you from personal experience that friends help, talking openly and honestly helps, and the emotional burdens placed upon a family when a suicide is successful are tremendous, as well as the guilt the surviving family must overcome.  This veteran did not have to die, their death was “largely preventable,” and for their death to occur on VA property, in a mental health ward, remains a tragedy.  That the VHA dropped the ball and allowed, through leadership failures, non-working technical means, and training deficiencies, this veteran to die is disgraceful!

The VBA is committing travesties of justice every day.  Consider the following, in the past 15+ years since I left the US Navy, I have had discussions with veteran service officers (VSO’s) across the continental United States on my own claim, and while supporting other veterans with their claims.  A recent example serves to illustrate the problem.  A Spine Anatomyveteran has bulging disks in the cervical spine.  The MRI shows disk degeneration, stenosis, and other problems in the cervical spine.  The veteran has an “S-Curve” in the thoracic spine caused by carrying bottled gas containers from the pier into the ship.  There is stenosis and disk degeneration in the thoracic spine.  The lumbar spine has bulging disks, degeneration, and stenosis.  Three separate areas of the spine, three distinct injured areas, yet, the VBA calls the spine issues, “Lumbar strain.”

Any person who has taken human biology in K-12 education can tell that spine issues in cervical and thoracic are not “lumbar strain” and would not need “new and material evidence” to understand that the first decision was flawed.  Yet, for the veteran to obtain a rating for their spinal issues, they must find an orthopedic spinal specialist, not affiliated with the VHA, and get a letter of diagnosis detailing why these separate areas of the spine are not “lumbar strain.”  The current corporate medicine world, finding an orthopedic specialist will require a non-VHA doctor as a primary care provider (PCP) to refer the veteran to a specialist.  Without a significant cash investment, time investment, and replication of VHA completed tests, x-rays, and MRI’s, the veteran will not be able to obtain a letter detailing the issues sufficient to sway the VBA in correcting their initial judgment.

The veteran will be stuck between three bureaucracies, the VBA who is denying the claim for spinal injury, the VHA who cannot diagnose and document a problem sufficient to meet the VBA standards, and the corporate medicine outside the VHA.  Yet, anyone with a passing understanding of human anatomy and biology can logically make the leap that the spinal issues cannot all be lumped under “lumbar strain.”

I continue to ask, “What is a veteran to do?”  Many times, the veterans in this position are either unemployed or employed below their skill level because they are in pain, they have medical issues requiring treatment, and they cannot obtain the treatment needed because the VBA has not allowed a military service claim to be placed upon the medical records for the VHA to treat.  To chain medical professionals to a rigid and dead bureaucracy, by refusing their ability to diagnose a problem for another VA administration is, without a doubt, a terrible decision, and dangerous practice.  To refuse to investigate a medical problem, restricted breathing with chest pain because the pain is not related to heart and lungs remains a travesty and an abuse of the patient.

To the elected Federal officials, why are you not demanding improvement to the VHA and the VBA?  Why do veterans have to die in the care of the VHA before any improvement is made to the bureaucracy you created?  Where does a veteran go to obtain relief from the bureaucratic nightmare where the VBA and the VHA are refusing to help the veteran?  The tragedy in this entire article is that the VA cannot enforce policy adherence, controlling the risks to avoid incidents like those detailed, and demand better performance from the people and the systems that are supposed to help the veterans.  The travesty in this article is the policymakers between Secretary Wilkie and the front-line employees; who is helping the veteran navigate these rocky shoals and dangerous waters of government policy?

I have met some great VSO’s, employees of the VBA and VHA, and interviewed with phenomenal people working in the National Cemetery; yet, they all have the same problem, the millstone around their necks is the regulations, policies, procedures, and red-tape of the VA that has been designed to refuse help as the first response to every question posed.  Thus, as I have asked Senator Udall (D-NM) and Representative Haaland (D-NM), as well as countless other Federally elected officials between 1997 and the present, what is a veteran to do to obtain the help they need from the VA?  Who would the veterans approach for guidance and support?  When the VBA is demanding “new and material evidence” before acting to support a veteran, how does a veteran obtain this evidence?

I know of hundreds of veterans who were affected by an independent duty corpsman in the US Navy who threw records over the side of the ship to avoid being held accountable for bad decisions and patient abuse.  Because these records are not in the medical files, injuries sustained in the service are not documented, and the VBA will use this as an excuse to deny claims.  What is a veteran to do?  Where does the veteran go?  How does a veteran correct something that occurred beyond their control to obtain treatment for decades-old injuries?  You the elected officials allowed the bureaucracy to be built, you are responsible for correcting these issues experienced, what are you doing to affect change and support Secretary Wilkie in fixing the VA, and by extension the VBA, the VHA, and the NC?

The American people are watching how you treat veterans, and we are not pleased!

 

© 2019 M. Dave Salisbury

All Rights Reserved

The images used herein were obtained in the public domain; this author holds no copyright to the photos displayed.

 

LinkedIn Jail – Shifting the Paradigms on Social Media Power

20 August 2019 marks the fifth day I have been in LinkedIn jail, where my account is being reviewed for having broken some mysterious rule. I verified my identity immediately upon recognizing my account was suspended, I have done nothing wrong, and yet here I sit waiting for some magical decision by someone in LinkedIn’s mass bureaucracy to allow me back into my account and professional network. In the sparse emails received from LinkedIn, I learned that I had been placed in LinkedIn jail because of hate speech; this is where the paradigms of social media need correction.

LinkedIn Jail

On 18 August 2019, I sent the following message:

“What specifically about this message is “Hate speech?” Nothing in the ambiguous policies declares what “Hate speech” is, no definition, no clear line of demarcation; yet, I am being singled out from all the other responses for “Hate speech.” Interesting peek into social media, LinkedIn specifically, snowflake melting syndrome. I am aghast to see this behavior leveled against me.  Clearly define “Hate speech!”

I have asked for an explanation regarding how the above violates the user agreement, the posting policies, and the rules of LinkedIn, all to no avail. This comment was posted to a report regarding Representative Rashida Harbi Tlaib (D), and her continued flaunting of American Tax Law added to her hubris, individual ambition, and avarice, shown at every event. Except that some snowflake on LinkedIn has the power to place me in LinkedIn jail over a comment they disagree with politically.

The arbitrary actions by LinkedIn is a problem; people’s livelihoods are wrapped up in their LinkedIn profiles. I write articles and post them to LinkedIn on a myriad of topics to engage conversation and drive business to my consulting firm. I am not a 30,000-person networker on LinkedIn. My professional network includes many of those I have worked with professionally across the last two decades and 26-moves in the United States. I do accept invitations from veterans, unemployed people, and associates I meet who need a hand up.  I employ my professional network to help others.

All of my articles, but especially the articles discussing politics, religion, the VA, and elected officials are carefully written, sourced, packaged to present ideas, solutions, and explain beyond a single post why something is the way it is. I have never had any problem in the almost two decades I have been a member of LinkedIn. I don’t Facebook as that entire platform is heavily biased against new ideas and changes in thinking. I do not Tweet on the Twitter platform as that platform remains useless, and the ties that bind and gag on Facebook are the same ties that bind and gag on Twitter. I have accounts on both but rarely use them. Hence, my social media is limited to LinkedIn, and now I am left to wonder if maybe I should be changing this as well.

Where is the appeals board for the decision to close access to my business and my personal LinkedIn accounts? Who has the authority to close access? Why does this person have this access? Why can a single snowflake melting be the reason any social media account is placed into access limbo? All these questions and more the elected officials should have been asking in the committee meetings on social media, yet the items were never addressed; why? Where are the warnings and the opportunity to discuss differences in opinion between LinkedIn and the user?

I have heard discussed on LinkedIn multiple times regarding how too many LinkedIn accounts are fraudulent, or the owners are there to cause trouble; was the person reporting my comments as “hostile, hate speech” also investigated for veracity? If not, why? In more carefully reading the new LinkedIn User Agreement and the policies and rules documents, I have been amazed at the fake account language, and I would presume that both parties should be investigated when a claim of “hate speech” is reported. I would presume that LinkedIn is more interested in getting to the truth and ferreting out that trolls, the hacks, the criminals, and the dregs of society, rather than giving honest people a hard time. LinkedIn, what is the answer moving forward?

Here are five potential solutions:

  1. Before shutting down access, send an alert to both users in disagreement, investigate both users for content and appropriate user agreement adherence, look at the content posted, the threads, and evaluate both on professional merit. Then communicate with both parties the decision.  Your platform is neutral ground for expressions of personal opinion, and Freedom of Speech means the “yammer heads and trolls” get their say within reason. For example, the legal bounds of Free Speech as set forth by the Supreme Court.
  2. Filter out the miscreants and fake accounts. I do not know how many times I have been attacked on various threads by an account that is there one day and gone the next.  I was forced to submit my government-issued ID to prove I am a real person.  When investigating accusations are both users required to verify through government-issued ID their reality?  If not, why is this not standard practice to aid in eliminating erroneous accounts causing trouble?
  3. Put into the user agreements clear, concise, and easily followed language regarding where the limits are in speech. I know, this should be obvious to professional adults.  But, the necessity is evident due to the miscreants and malefactors currently residing on LinkedIn, who are abusing LinkedIn rules, regulations, and agreements for personal satisfaction.
  4. No single person should have the power to harm another for personal gain. From the time something is reported to LinkedIn, to the time action on a user’s account is taken by LinkedIn there should be communication between both parties and a neutral party at LinkedIn discussing the accusation, proving the account is real and detailing what is happening.  Specifying the penalties, how long any penalties will last, and how to appeal the decision.  Barring this type of process, the abuse of LinkedIn will continue and harm LinkedIn, not the users.
  5. Start holding false account owners responsible for the damage they do to LinkedIn’s brand. I have several accounts in my professional network that have proven to be false but only after engaging in business with the user. False accounts are very frustrating, wasting my time and resources, and doing damage to LinkedIn’s reputation.  Why doesn’t the user creation process have a veracity checker using government-issued ID, biometrics, or some other technologically powered method to weed out the charlatans?  What is LinkedIn doing to protect themselves from the hacks and trolls after an account is discovered to be false, or mass owned by a troll?

20 August 2019 – Before completing this article, an email was received, part of that message is copied below:

“We’ve reviewed your appeal. Based on the information you provided and if you agree to abide by LinkedIn’s Terms of Service: https://www.linkedin.com/legal/user-agreement, we’ll grant this appeal. You can agree to abide by our Terms of Service by replying to this email with your explicit consent.

Please note, that LinkedIn expects all members to behave in a professional manner when engaging on the platform. Should this account violate our terms in the future, we may restrict the account again. Any future violations of our Terms could result in a permanent restriction.

To learn more about what is and is not acceptable on LinkedIn, please review LinkedIn’s Professional Community Policies: https://www.linkedin.com/help/linkedin/answer/34593.”

I have responded.  Since I have done nothing wrong, have never abused LinkedIn’s rules, regulations, and user agreement, and I do not plan to in the future, I remain appalled at my treatment by LinkedIn and will continue to search for a LinkedIn alternative.  The lack of clarification, the lack of action, and the disgusting lack of reply to my questions are beyond the pale, and if LinkedIn does not change, I will.  The power of social media to block, harm, and restrict without cause and justification must cease, and I do not care how much money George Soros pumps into social media to demand the social media platforms obeisance to his personal agenda.

To have the final word, the following was received announcing I have been released from LinkedIn Jail:

“However, please be advised that this is your final warning regarding abuses on the LinkedIn site. If your account is reported again after today’s date, your LinkedIn account will be subject to termination.”

LinkedIn has concluded that I did nothing wrong, but if another snowflake reports me, I will lose my LinkedIn professional network.  They threaten me, but cannot answer simple questions, propose solutions that can protect me, or even engage in polite conversation.

America, social media’s pernicious, and self-inflated power over us must cease.  LinkedIn, I will either find a new platform for professionals or will cease all contact on your platform.

Threatening me without cause and justification is the last straw!

 

© 2019 M. Dave Salisbury

All Rights Reserved

The images used herein were obtained in the public domain, this author holds no copyright to the images displayed.