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S U M M A R Y
DIARY: November 4, 1997 12:19 PM Tuesday;
Called Tom on Mike Grebinski review USACE CESP of Comm Metrics.
2...Mike Grebinski Reviewing Communication Metrics
3...CESP Reports Potential, But Limited Test Opportunity for Comm Metrics
4...Cost Savings on Oakland Enhanced by Understaffing CESPN
.....Understaffing Compounded by Project Management Issues
5...Cost Savings Less Apparent for Districts with Adequate Staffing
.....Information Overload New Reality That Causes Cost Growth
.....Limited Span of Attention Growing Problem in USACE
.....Communication Metrics Adds Intelligence
6...Hard to Test Comm Metrics Due to Budget Limits in Other Districts
....Communication Metrics Essential to Avoid Cost Escalation
....Economic Conditions and USACE Mission Requires Risk Management
....Search for Improvement and Solution to New Realities is Constant
7...CESPN Good Testing Environment for Communication Metrics
8...Communication Metrics Provides Interim Solution to CESPN Staffing
9...Mike feels his meeting with LTC Thompson should be one-on-one.
10...Communication Metrics Uses Writing to Test Alignment, Discover Gaps
11...We considered the benefit of a written report to help Mike engage the
12...Nobody has enough time to think. Clinton's political aid, Dick
13...CERL PL-B Reports Initial Favorable Review Communication Metrics
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0201 - Corps of Engineers, SFD 415 977 8400 fax 8483
020101 - Mr. Thompson F. Keesling, Architect; Assistant Chief =415 977 8473
020102 - Construction Operations Division =415 977 8480
0202 - Corps of Engineers, SFD 415 977 8400 fax 8483
020201 - Mr. Max R. Blodgett, II, P.E., L.S.
020202 - Chief =415 977 8444; Construction Operations Division =415 977 8480
COE Evaluation Communication Metrics
CE HQ Evaluation, Wider Use Comm Metrics
Comm Metrics Solves CESPN Staffing Problem
1205 - ..
1206 - Summary/Objective
120701 - Followed up ref SDS 17 line 88, ref SDS 16 line84.
120703 - Max and Tom have not heard from Mike. I called Mike and he advised of
120704 - having called Jim yesterday. Mike seemed to feel Communication
120705 - Metrics is useful, but thinks USACE budgeting makes it difficult to
120706 - identify a project to test savings potential. Developed initiative
120707 - for Mike to visit with LTC Thompson on using Communication Metrics for
120708 - interim support needed to avoid risks of inadequate staffing in CESPN,
120709 - since Mike understands more staffing will not be approved. This could
120710 - provide the broader test Jim is seeking.
120712 - [Submitted notes on 971105, ref SDS 19 line 88.]
1210 - Discussion
121101 - Mike Grebinski Reviewing Communication Metrics
121103 - Followed up work at ref SDS 17 line 119, ref SDS 16 line 124.
121105 - Max said he is in a meeting and asked me to call him back in about 10
121106 - minutes.
1214 - 1304 called Tom
121501 - He sent Mike an email on status yesterday, and had not heard anything.
121503 - I explained discussion with Moonja Kim a few minutes ago, on her plan
121504 - to send Tom or Jim a letter.
1218 - 1317 Called Max back
121901 - He has not heard from Mike.
121904 - ..
1222 - 1327 called Mike 415 977 8031
122301 - CESP Reports Potential, But Limited Test Opportunity for Comm Metrics
122303 - Mike talked to Jim yesterday (per ref SDS 14 0054, ref SDS 13 8888,
122304 - and ref DIP 2 9773). He indicated to Jim that Communication Metrics
122305 - may be useful, as explained by the District's report, ref DRP 1 line
122306 - 97. but that it could be difficult to find an opportunity within CESP
122307 - to validate cost savings potential estimated by CESPN, ref DRP 3 line
122308 - 23.
122310 - This is like the debate about whether tax revenue is reduced or
122311 - increased by reducing tax rates in order to increase investment
122312 - in productive capacity. Communication Metrics bets that
122313 - investing intellectual capital yields higher rewards.
122316 - ..
122317 - Cost Savings on Oakland Enhanced by Understaffing CESPN
122319 - Mike feels cost savings attributed to Communication Metrics on the
122320 - Oakland Harbor project reflect a unique condition of understaffing in
122321 - the San Francisco District. He seemed to offer that with adequate
122322 - staffing, mistakes would not have occurred that led to cost savings
122323 - from Communication Metrics, per telecon with Jim on 971017, ref SDS 12
122324 - line 225, ref SDS 12 line 275.
122326 - [Mike made similar point at meeting on 971121. ref SDS 23 4692]
122328 - Understaffing Compounded by Project Management Issues
122330 - It is not clear that using more expensive poeple answers the
122331 - question of whether Communication Metrics improves management with
122332 - fewer people and fewer mistakes, resulting in reduced cost. If CPM
122333 - planning is omitted on a complex job, will this result in reduced
122334 - project costs, if a more expensive manager is assigned? Probably
122335 - not. The savings will be expended many times over fixing mistakes
122336 - that planning reveals.
122338 - We did not discuss other dynamics of 3 party communications with a
122339 - sponsor responsible for critical tasks impacting contractor
122340 - performance, that was compounded by a contractor desperate to save
122341 - itself, a political climate that may have impacted bid issues, two
122342 - consecutive winters of excessive runoff that doubled historical
122343 - shoaling, regulatory conditions requiring first-of-its-kind design
122344 - solution. These and other high risk factors require more than
122345 - normal staffing, such that understaffing is particularly
122346 - problematic.
122347 - ..
122348 - Mike described staffing for Construction Management in the San
122349 - Francisco District as being "on a shoe string." He advised that the
122350 - construction function will be transferred to Sacramento, and so as a
122351 - result, additional staffing will not be approved for San Francisco. He
122352 - commented that Max Blodgett is all alone in having to manage District
122353 - construction now that Tom Keesling has been assigned to implement
122354 - CEFMS, PROMIS, RMS, etc.
122356 - [On 971123 Mike Grebinski confirmed CESPN is understaffed, see
122357 - ref SDS 23 4692.]
122358 - ..
122359 - Mike mentioned a recent meeting where CESPN-DE, LTC Thompson,
122360 - requested additional staffing, and Mike advised DE that additional
122361 - staffing for Construction Management will not be authorized. DE's
122362 - Operation Plan dated 970516 cited understaffing as a problem, ref SDS
122363 - 5 line 196 and ref SDS 5 line 468.
122365 - [On 971119 Tom Keesling advised that there has been no official
122366 - notice of hiring curtailment in CESPN, ref SDS 21 0850.]
122369 - ..
122370 - Cost Savings Less Apparent for Districts with Adequate Staffing
122372 - Mike said that other Districts in CESP have sufficient staff to
122373 - perform the tasks accomplished by Communication Metrics, as described
122374 - in the District's report.
122376 - We did not take time to review the Scope of Services in Appendix E
122377 - para 3 "Requirements." ref DRP 1 4929. Chuck Shoer advised on 970310
122378 - that USACE dropped the procedure from the CCA Guide for RE to maintain
122379 - a Daily Diary, because there wasn't enough time, ref SDS 4 2294. As a
122380 - result, this procedure, which verifies alignment, develops and
122381 - maintains institutional memory, and supports "lessons learned" may not
122382 - be getting done.
122384 - ..
122385 - Information Overload New Reality That Causes Cost Growth
122387 - We briefly considered whether any amount of staffing is able to
122388 - meet the challenge of "new realities" identified by the Chief of
122389 - Engineers, without the addition of "intelligence" capability. The
122390 - central new reality of the 21st century is "information overload."
122391 - More staff means more meetings, more calls, more fax, more
122392 - information, more communication congestion.
122394 - How will more information solve "information overload"?
122396 - [On 981009 Jim Lovo at HQ USACE was aware of Information
122397 - overload. ref SDS 24 3409]
122399 - Limited Span of Attention Growing Problem in USACE
122401 - We did not discuss Mike's colleague, Jack Farless, who stated in a
122402 - meeting on 960103 that he and other USACE managers are
122403 - overburdened by information, ref SDS 3 line 134. This indicates
122404 - that more staffing cannot accomplish the role of Communication
122405 - Metrics to expand span of attention identified in CESPN report
122406 - dated 971007, ref DRP 3 line 61.
122409 - Communication Metrics Adds Intelligence
122411 - The only solution to more information is adding intelligence to
122412 - convert information into useful knowledge, as set out in CESPN
122413 - report dated 970328. We are trying to evaluate how well
122414 - Communication Metrics can do this within USACE culture.
122416 - The current goal is to provide leadership to help people who do
122417 - not know about this solution and perhaps fear the imposition of
122418 - another "Hot Management Idea" (HMI) by outsiders. This is a
122419 - legitimate concern that requires hard work and imagination to
122420 - address constructively. An expanding economy by definition
122421 - implies people need and are seeking cost effective help.
122425 - Hard to Test Comm Metrics Due to Budget Limits in Other Districts
122427 - We considered the prospects of using Communication Metrics in other
122428 - Districts in order to get a wider base of experience from which to
122429 - estimate cost savings, per discussions with Tom Keesling, ref SDS 10
122430 - line 295.
122432 - Mike advised that LA would be a good choice because they have several
122433 - $100M+ projects.
122435 - He explained that since other Districts are fully staffed, they may
122436 - not have budget capacity in the S&A account to evaluate Communication
122437 - Metrics potential to reduce the cost of Construction Management. He
122438 - noted projects in other Districts are not reporting any problems and
122439 - so it would be difficult politically to impose Communication Metrics
122440 - on other Districts.
122443 - Communication Metrics Essential to Avoid Cost Escalation
122445 - We did not discuss that Communication Metrics is like accounting,
122446 - cost control and project management. It avoids problems and
122447 - reduces cost proactively, rather than "saving-the-day" once failure
122448 - appears eminent. Since it strengthens management by providing
122449 - alignment with controlling factors, it can "save-the-day," if
122450 - necessary, but that is not the test we are trying to accomplish.
122452 - CESPN's report explains Communication Metrics is a Risk Management
122453 - solution that is proactive, rather than waiting for problems to
122454 - occur. Our aim is to discover if we can save money on projects
122455 - that are not aware of having problems, since that is the norm.
122458 - Economic Conditions and USACE Mission Requires Risk Management
122459 - ..
122460 - At this time, economic conditions that historically cause
122461 - problems exist...
122463 - a. Building Boom
122464 - b. Low unemployment such that new employees are marginal
122465 - c. Information Overload, New Realities - Chief of Engineers
122466 - d. USACE introducing many new "systems" - need support
122467 - e. USACE adding mission from DOE scope
122469 - These conditions cause pressures that lead to continual mistakes
122470 - and cost growth, as reported by the U.S. Air Force Institute of
122471 - Technology, ref SDS 8 line 269, which Communication Metrics can
122472 - proactively discover and fix before they cost money, under standard
122473 - Risk Management practice.
122475 - Jim Jones mentinoed expanding mission and reduction of work force
122476 - in our discussion on 971017, ref SDS 12 line 094412.
122478 - [See where Mike's workload impacts performance, ref SDS 21 line
122479 - 085414.]
122481 - Search for Improvement and Solution to New Realities is Constant
122483 - In every management setting, there are individuals who perceive the
122484 - need for change and constant improvement. Communication Metrics
122485 - need not be imposed as a directive, but rather with Mike's good
122486 - offices, efforts can be made to find and support those who are
122487 - burdened by growing work loads, and seek better methods, as
122488 - reported by Marc McGovern in CESPN, ref DRP 1 line 812.
122490 - Communication Metrics can be offered as a method to explore based
122491 - on initial success in CESPN.
122494 - CESPN Good Testing Environment for Communication Metrics
122496 - Mike offered that the San Francisco District is the best place in the
122497 - Division to evaluate Communication Metrics.
122499 - Mike recognizes that CESPN-DE has voiced opposition to Communication
122500 - Metrics. He said this presents a challenge to find a way to test
122501 - Communication Metrics, as requested by Jim.
122503 - We considered the lineaments of a solution from our discussion today:
122505 - 1. CESPN is understaffed but cannot get authorization for more
122506 - staffing because of plans to transfer construction to
122507 - Sacramento, per Mike above.
122509 - 2. HQ wants to get more evidence of cost savings from
122510 - Communication Metrics, per Jim Jones, ref SDS 12 line 618.
122512 - 3. CESPN needs a way to provide increased management strength
122513 - without adding staff.
122516 - Communication Metrics Provides Interim Solution to CESPN Staffing
122517 - ..
122518 - CESPN-DE might be open to using Communication Metrics for
122519 - interim Construction Management support that can be funded by the
122520 - money that would otherwise be applied for increased staff. Mike can
122521 - explain that this will ensure adequate management of construction
122522 - work, which is a duty of the Corps, while also providing a broader
122523 - base of experience to evaluate Communication Metrics which Jim Jones
122524 - is seeking.
122526 - Mike seemed to indicate he will meet with LTC Thompson on Thursday or
122527 - Friday to discuss these ideas.
122529 - [Telecon on 971119 Mike has not had enough time to meet with LTC
122530 - Thompson, ref SDS 22 0854.]
122532 - There was discussion of having Max Blodgett and Tom Keesling support
122533 - Mike's meeting with LTC Thompson, since they have direct experience
122534 - with Communication Metrics and are assigned to perform the the work at
122535 - issue. They can provide background on District Counsel's request for
122536 - Communication Metrics support, ref SDS 9 line 325.
122538 - Mike feels his meeting with LTC Thompson should be one-on-one.
122540 - We considered concerns LTC Thompson expressed about Communication
122541 - Metrics in a meeting on 970624, ref SDS 7 line 108.
122543 - Mike said the record on this meeting would facilitate preparation for
122544 - his meeting with LTC Thompson. I will submit notes of that meeting.
122546 - [Did this on 971105, ref SDS 19 line 88.]
122548 - [On 971113 Jim will call Mike on results of meeting with LTC
122549 - Thompson, ref SDS 20 line 138.]
Analysis, Review, Research
Institutionalize Communication Metrics
CE HQ Evaluation, Wider Use Comm Metrics
Change Management, HQ, Intranets, 970516
Thinking Through Writing Planning Analyiss
Leadership Helps People without Time to
Not Enough Time to Write Everything Down,
Guess Gossip Commedy of Errors Murphy's Law
Think Not Enough Time
2712 - 1355 called Jim Jones 202 761 0650 (Teri Cabbel secretary)
271301 - Communication Metrics Uses Writing to Test Alignment, Discover Gaps
271303 - Explained understandings from Mike above, and asked what follow up
271304 - developed?
271305 - ..
271306 - Jim said he got Mikes's impressions on Communication Metrics
271307 - from their discussion yesterday, but did not request a written report
271308 - per planning with Tom Keesling on 971030. ref SDS 15 1785
271310 - We considered the benefit of a written report to help Mike engage the
271311 - ideas of Communication Metrics more fully than is possible with
271312 - dialog, as seen from Tom Keesling's report. Impressions from dialog
271313 - begin to fade and become commingled with other input begining about
271314 - one minute after a conversation. Jim requested more information from
271315 - Tom on 970904 and thereafter received ref DRP 3 line 23, which spawned
271316 - further inquiry. This report is a continuing resource to build
271317 - knowledge and ideas.
271319 - Chief Justice William Rhenquist reported in 1988 at an ABA conference
271320 - that the Supreme Court follows up its own internal discussions among
271321 - the justices with written analysis in order to avoid the malady of
271322 - false knowledge that is endemic to verbal exchange, ref SDS 1 line
271323 - 192. As well, Henry Kissinger writes of an "Alice in Wonderland"
271324 - decision environment where people have strong views, but do not know
271325 - why, that results from reliance on "impressions" from conversation,
271326 - ref SDS 2 line 198.
271328 - The challenge is time.
271330 - Nobody has enough time to think. Clinton's political aid, Dick
271331 - Morris, has written that the President complains on "Not having enough
271332 - time to think." ref SDS 11 line 480 Where then is the time to write?
271333 - The goal of the Communication Metrics review is to assess whether
271334 - technology can empower a new work role to provide support so that the
271335 - "thinking" gets done.
271337 - This added effort is warranted by the potential benefits reported by
271338 - CESPN. If it is politically doable, a written report from Mike would
271339 - develop greater buy-in, particularly if the effort were supported by a
271340 - Communication Manager who can save Mike time.
271342 - I explained the concept of thinking through writing; that writing is a
271343 - window on the mind, and this is enhanced by using the SDS program that
271344 - integrates time, information, people and documents, and provides
271345 - linkages to a web of connected knowledge, as set out in my paper on
271346 - POIMS discussed with Moonja Kim today, ref SDS 18 line 132.
271348 - I previously suggested that Tom Keesling meet with Mike and offer
271349 - assistance in getting his impressions into a written report that would
271350 - provide another resource to build the record Jim feels is needed to
271351 - provide faith in Communication Metrics. However, Mike has not
271352 - discussed his impressions with Tom, so we need to find another way to
271353 - help Mike.
271355 - [On 971113 Jim will call Mike on results of meeting with LTC
271356 - Thompson, ref SDS 20 line 138.]
271360 - ..
271361 - CERL PL-B Reports Initial Favorable Review Communication Metrics
271363 - We discussed the call from Moonja Kim and her request to see a
271364 - demonstration of SDS that supports Communication Metrics.
271366 - Jim indicated Moonja's research group is an appropriate way for USACE
271367 - to evaluate Communication Metrics.
271369 - [Email from Moonja received in the evening indicates that she
271370 - called me from Washington, and so Jim may have discussed this
271371 - initiative with her, ref SDS 18 line 249.]
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