Category Archives: Learning

Photo of the Day: Diplomatic Security’s Smoky Scenario Training

 

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U.S. government personnel evacuate a building through a smoky scenario September 9, 2013, at the Diplomatic Security (DS) Interim Training Facility in Summit Point, West Virginia.  All government personnel serving at U.S. embassies or consulates in high-threat regions of the world must undergo DS’s Foreign Affairs Counter Threat training before their deployment. (U.S. Department of State photo)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Diplomatic Security, Evacuations, Foreign Service, Functional Bureaus, Learning, Photo of the Day, Realities of the FS, Security, State Department, Training

Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) Program for Iraqi Nationals to End Sept 30, Or How to Save One Interpreter At a Time

– By Domani Spero

In June this year, we blogged about the potential termination of the SIV program for Iraqis who have worked for or on behalf of the U.S. Government in Iraq (See Iraqi Special Immigrant Visa Program: Potential Termination on September 30, 2013). The recent OIG inspection report on the US Embassy in Baghdad and it constituent posts indicate that the impending termination of Iraqi SIVs at the end of September this year has not been publicized because US Embassy Baghdad, and the Bureaus of Consular Affairs (CA), and Population, Refugees and Migration (PRM) expect the program to be extended.

On September 12, USCIS sent a reminder and issued a statement that authorization for the Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) program for Iraqi nationals who worked for or on behalf of the United States government will expire on Sept. 30, 2013. Individuals applying under this program, including family members, must be admitted to the United States or adjust their statuses before Oct. 1, 2013.

The program was created by Section 1244 of Public Law 110-181, as amended by Public Law 110-242. It covers Iraqi nationals who—during the period between March 20, 2003, and the present—have been employed by or on behalf of the United States government in Iraq for a period of not less than one year. The expiration date also applies to spouses and unmarried child(ren) accompanying or following to join the principal applicant.

As announced at its inception, the Iraqi SIV program will expire on Sept. 30, 2013, at 11:59 p.m. EDT unless Congress extends the program. After Sept. 30, 2013, USCIS will reject any petitions or applications filed based on the Iraqi SIV program. Beginning Oct. 1, 2013, USCIS will suspend processing of any pending Form I-360, Petition for Amerasian, Widow(er), or Special Immigrant, or Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status, filed based on the Iraqi SIV program.

For updates, please check our website at www.uscis.gov or call the National Customer Service Center at 1-800-375-5283. You can also find useful information on the U.S Embassy in Iraq’s website at http://iraq.usembassy.gov/siv-special.html.

If the program will expire in three weeks, and the individual has to be admitted to the United States before October 1, 2013, the door is left with just a crack.  Who can get an SIV in three weeks and slip into that crack?

Matt Zeller,  a United States Army veteran of the Afghan War and a Fellow with the Truman National Security Project writes about a specific visa case, under a similar program in Afghanistan:

From 2011 until July 2013, Janis waited for word that the State Department had approved his visa. Several times the US embassy in Kabul asked him to file additional paperwork and even appear for medical and personal interviews. At every appointment Janis would ask how much longer the process would take, but no one could ever give him a more specific answer other than “months to years.”[...] Going through this complicated process educated me beyond imagination. I’m convinced that the current visa program, while well intentioned, cannot succeed as designed. [...] for Janis to receive his visa, organizations such as the FBI, Homeland Security, and State Department all had to individually approve his visa application during their security background investigation, using their own individual opaque databases.

Read One Veteran’s Battle to Bring His Afghan Interpreter to the United States.

Something else Mr. Zeller did.  He started a Change.org petition and he and Janis did media interviews (by phone from Kabul). Yahoo! News reportedly published the first story about Janis on Sept. 6, and within hours the petition had thousands of signatures.  Here is the HuffPo Live video interview.

Mr. Zeller, a forceful advocate for the person who saved his life also asked supporters to contact their members of Congress and get these elected officials to write and call the U.S. Embassy in Kabul, the State Department, and anyone else they thought could help expedite Janis’ visa for approval. Note that visa petitions are approved by DHS, once approved, only then can visas be issued by State.  By the time it was over, and 104,588 signatures later, Mr. Zeller won his campaign to secure a visa for Janis Shinwari, his interpreter while he was in Afghanistan.  Now he is on a mission to save his other interpreter, Ehsan.

We admire what Mr. Zeller is doing for his interpreters.   But we worry about applicants who qualify for SIVs both in Afghanistan and Iraq but do not have vocal advocates for their cases.   In a perfect world, we don’t need a Matt Zeller or a change.org for the US Embassy in Kabul or Baghdad to issue these visas.  But the fact that Janis received a visa after a change.org petition and after a lot of press noise, tells us something folks already know — the system is not working as it should but one person can make a difference.   If Mr. Zeller can  replicate this campaign with Ehsan’s case, we suspect that in short order, the State Department will be swamped with similar campaigns.

👀

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Filed under Afghanistan, Contractors, Defense Department, Iraq, Learning, Security, State Department, U.S. Missions, Visas, War

War Vet Alan Cutter on “the profound disquiet of the wounded soul”

Alan Cutter is a Presbyterian reverend who served in the US Navy from 1969-1975. He also worked as teacher at the Naval Academy Preparatory School and is currently a member of the International Conference of War Veteran Ministers.  He wrote Learning to come home from war: no one said ‘thank you’ to Vietnam vets for The Guardian.

What has not changed over the centuries is the profaneness of war; the frustration of returning to a society preoccupied with mindless vicarious thrill seeking, enthralled by “reality” shows; the loneliness one feels even in the midst of a crowd; the terror of the unexpected sight or sound or smell; the rage so easily triggered; and the profound disquiet of the wounded soul.
[...]
I am waiting for someone to say “Forgive me?” That question both admits complicity for what happened and initiates a conversation. I’d like to tell that person this: my friend, we share responsibility. I’m proud to have served my country, even if it meant going to Vietnam. I’m sinfully proud of having been both an enlisted man and an officer. I did my best in an untenable situation. But I wasn’t prepared for the haunted eyes in the refugee camp, or the cries of the wounded, or the angry, wary stares of the villagers. Forgive us, yes, if that will ease your mind. But if you will stay and listen to the story, then together we may find salve for our wounded souls.

Thus begins the risky pathway of healing. Will you, beloved and fortunate citizen, do that duty for some returning warrior who has served our nation?

Read in full here.

– DS

 

 

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Free Online Class on Coursera: Fundamentals of Personal Financial Planning

This might be of interest to our regular readers but may be particularly helpful to State’s EFMs and third culture spouses.  Coursera is offering a 7-week long online course on financial planning for free.

About the Course | This course was created to help those who cannot afford extensive planning assistance better understand how to define and reach their financial goals. It provides basic understanding so informed decisions can be made. The course can also be seen as a reference for individual topics that are part of personal financial planning.

Course Syllabus

Week One: Where Are You? Where Are You Going?
Week Two: Taxes
Week Three: Defense — Insurance
Week Four: Investing
Week Five: Funding Retirement
Week Six: Doing the Math and Making Reasonable Assumptions;
Week Seven: Estate Planning

The course is taught by Avi Pai, CFP®, CRPC®, AIF® , a Managing Partner and a Certified Financial Planner Practitioner with the Irvine office of Provence Wealth Management Group (LPL Financial).  The class started on Jan 14 so you can still catch up.  Sign up here.

This course is offered by Coursera, a start-up in the fast-evolving arena of free online college courses.  Check it out.

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US Embassy Thailand: Ambassador Kenney and All Get High Marks; OIG Runs Out of Synonyms

State/OIG recently posted online its compliance follow-up review (CFR) of our two posts in Thailand, the US Embassy in Bangkok and USCG Chiang Mai. Ambassador Kristie A. Kenney arrived in Bangkok in January 2011, while her DCM, Judith B. Cefkin, arrived at post in July 2010.

Below are the main key judgments:

  • A new Ambassador and a new deputy chief of mission (DCM) since the 2010 inspection lead a cohesive and well-functioning interagency team. Morale is high.
  • The Ambassador’s emphasis on public diplomacy, especially a trailblazing use of social media, effectively promotes the U.S. foreign policy agenda in Thailand.
  • The consular section has excellent leadership, in contrast with the situation the OIG team found in 2010. Although the section works efficiently, it should change some processes to enhance customer service and conform with regulations.
  • The greatest staffing need is for a mid-level management officer position, which could be solved by converting an entry-level officer (ELO) position. The management section staffing has not grown commensurate with the overall growth of the mission.

Here’s Ambassador Kenney and DCM Cefkin in their matching blue dresses during the embassy’s Fourth of July celebration.

Photo via US Embassy Bangkok/FB

On Leadership

  • The embassy has been headed since January 2011 by a career Ambassador on her third assignment as Chief of Mission. Her tours as Ambassador and her experience in senior staff positions in the Department of State and the National Security Council prepared her well to lead one of the largest U.S. embassies in the world and to direct a country team that includes representatives of more than 30 U.S. Government departments and agencies. The embassy community recognizes the Ambassador’s skills in policy strategy, tactics, and advocacy of U.S. interests. Her management and coordination of the embassy’s human and material resources is admired and emulated. The Ambassador’s exemplary public outreach and her use of social media technologies have given her face recognition and a high level of public attention. She uses this platform to push ahead vigorously on U.S. bilateral and regional objectives in Thailand.
  • The DCM’s meticulous attention to detail and ability to operationalize the Ambassador’s vision complements the Ambassador’s broad and enterprising outlook. The excellent marks the Ambassador and DCM individually received for leadership and management capabilities in the CFR team’s preinspection survey of American direct-hire employees were reiterated in laudatory comments in interviews conducted at post. The partnership in the front office is regarded by employees as close, transparent, and a plus for the mission. A number of the most senior and well-traveled section chiefs in the Department and other agencies told the CFR team that this front office team is either the best or among the best leadership teams in their experience.
  • The Ambassador and DCM share a concern for the welfare of the embassy community and a common emphasis on high ethical and professional standards. Both articulate their goals and expectations clearly to the mission and require (and receive) a high-quality product. The front office’s informal style, openness to dissent, and encouragement of initiative invite creativity and allow feedback and contrary opinion to flow in both directions. The dialogue between the front office and the rest of the mission is dense and constant. Employees told inspectors it was exciting and invigorating. There is wide agreement throughout the embassy that the front office is accessible, responsive, and supportive.
  • The Ambassador is a decisive and self-aware leader with a high energy level. Employees understand what she wants from them. Coordination among sections and agencies at post is tight, fast, and collegial. The Ambassador and the DCM expect members of the country team to collaborate and to function on whole-of-government principles, and they do.
  • Front office attentiveness to the welfare of the employees has created strong bonds of loyalty, trust, and shared purpose. During the recent floods, the front office made taking care of the staff the primary mission goal. Although some LE staff had unrealistic expectations about what restitution or assistance the United States would provide, the front office’s responsiveness and empathy left many grateful.
  • An active and demanding Ambassador requires an active and productive support structure. The Ambassador’s extremely full agenda places considerable drafting and organizational responsibilities on the mission, particularly on the political, economic, transnational crime, and public diplomacy sections. The CFR team found that officers in a number of sections routinely put in long hours, mostly out of genuine enthusiasm to support the Ambassador’s objectives and a desire to meet high-quality standards.

And it’s not just the Front Office

  • Pol/Econ:  The four units of the political section function largely autonomously but collegially and well. The new political counselor was unanimously praised for his empowering management style and for expanding support to the two units with regional responsibilities. The economic section, with an embedded environment, science, technology, and health unit, is doing a remarkable job handling an increasingly dynamic operational tempo with a growing commercial portfolio. The economic counselor skillfully and strategically directs her staff. The transnational crime affairs section, headed by its only U.S. direct-hire employee, has made important strides in increasing interagency law enforcement cooperation, capitalizing on programming synergies to increase the impact of each program dollar.
  • Consular: The 2010 inspection report described a consular section with serious leadership and morale problems. A strong cadre of ELOs and LE staff members were putting in an impressive performance under great stress, but the consul general and the visa chief were providing inadequate leadership and supervision. The two most senior officers in the section were not helping the other officers during peak visa workload periods, they were not mentoring and counseling the ELOs on a regular basis, and they were not communicating well with the staff.The CFR team observed a transformed consular section. The new consul general and visa chief arrived in the summer of 2011. They and the other consular managers are practicing the consular leadership tenets of the Bureau of Consular Affairs. Although the workload for the section continues to rise and the pressures on the staff are heavy, consular employees are working hard and their morale is high.

The report says that overall embassy morale is also high and from the looks of it, the whole mission works so well, the OIG could have used a thesaurus to avoid multiple repeats of words like excellent and effective.

  • The management counselor provides strong leadership to a section that includes 23 U.S. direct-hire employees. The section is understaffed in that it does not include a mid-level generalist management officer, a needed resource in this huge enterprise of over 600 direct-hire Americans; more than 1,110 LE staff members; 55 EFMs; and hundreds of contractors, including local guards and others.
  • The community liaison offices in Bangkok and Chiang Mai received high praise for their creativity and dedication
  • The information management office is an efficient, well-managed operation that meets customer needs.
  • The senior general services officer is very experienced and an expert in the section’s operations and requirements. This section is excellent, and there are no concerns about performance.
  • The financial management section provides excellent customer service and financial support, including budgeting and accounting to its large client base.
  • The human resources office provides excellent service to the large population resident in Bangkok.
  • The International Cooperative Administrative Support Services council operates effectively.

Social Media

The Ambassador’s use of social media makes her stand out in Thailand. Almost 30,000 Thai receive her personal tweets; retransmission by the embassy’s Twitter feed extends her immediate reach by another 40,000. She also has a Facebook page and a blog. To accommodate the Thai preference for broadcast rather than print news and opinion, the Ambassador posts video commentary on YouTube for the local television channels to pick up. Although the terseness required by Twitter has on occasion generated some public misunderstanding, the Ambassador’s skillful management of her public persona is a huge asset to the mission.

Seriously, it’s not often that we get to see a review like this.

The only other item that strikes us in this report is apparently, ELOs in the consular section are working considerable amounts of overtime, but are not claiming compensation. The CFR team reportedly heard anecdotal evidence that the officers were working on average several hours of overtime per week. The OIG recommended that “Embassy Bangkok should implement a plan so that entry-level officers in the consular section seek approval and claim compensation for the hours of overtime they work.”

Sometimes, the boss person at Consular Sections are known to frown … um, discourage entry level officers from claiming overtime pay.  So newbies don’t even attempt to file claims.  We hope that’s not the case here and those folks get paid for all work that are more than eight hours per day or 40 hours per week. Read the 2012 AFSA Guidance on Overtime and Comp Time for FS Specialists and FS Untenured Generalists Serving Overseas.

Domani Spero

Related item:

-06/30/12   Compliance Followup Review of Embassy Bangkok and Consulate General Chiang Mai, Thailand (ISP-C-12-33A) [914 Kb]  Posted Online by State/OIG on July 24, 2012

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Filed under Ambassadors, Consular Work, Foreign Service, FSOs, Govt Reports/Documents, Leadership and Management, Learning, U.S. Missions

State Dept’s Exchange Visitor Program: “Watching Them Like a Hawk?”

MSNBC’s Rock Center is running a segment tonight on foreign exchange students sexually abused in youth programs overseen by the State Department. Below is a 4:25 minute teaser:

According to the AP, citing State Department spokesman Mark Toner, the department received 43 allegations of sexual abuse since the beginning of the 2010-2011 school year.

Furthermore, AP quotes from Mr. Toner’s email:

“From the State Department’s point of view and the Secretary of State’s point of view, even one child abused under these programs is one child too many. That is why we’ve undertaken a number of reforms to strengthen the program.”

The AP piece also cited Danielle Grijalalva, executive director of the Committee for Safety of Foreign Exchange Students, who said she has found dozens of cases of sexual abuse over the years and forwarded the complaints to the State Department. Yet the agency has done little to investigate them. Ms. Grijalalva said:

“The State Department is watching exchange agencies like the Catholic Church watched its (pedophile) priests.”

Ouchy! That’s not/not a public diplomacy win.

In 2009 in the wake of another foreign exchange blowup in the press, State’s Inspector General Office did a limited review at the request of the Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs and the Acting Assistant Secretary of ECA to “deter­mine the level of the Department’s oversight of secondary school exchange pro­grams.” The OIG says that the purpose of that review was to assess monitoring procedures within ECA and their effectiveness as oversight tools.

Its Recommendation 4 at that time says:

The Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs should es­tablish a standard requirement based on objective criteria to conduct national criminal history checks of host families to ensure uniformity and adequacy of information provided by third-party background check companies. (Action: ECA)

Apparently, the pilot use of FBI fingerprint checks had been ditched due Congress’ inability to provide appropriate funding and to budget shortfalls.

The 2009 OIG report was not the first one conducted on this subject. The United States Government Accountability Office (GAO) report in February 1990, United States Information Agency: Inappropriate uses of Educational and Cultural Visas1, reported problems with program monitoring and oversight. The Department’s OIG audit in September 2000,2 found that the Office of Exchange Visitor Programs was unable to effectively monitor and over­see the exchange visitor program primarily because of inadequate resources. Finally, the 2006 GAO report to the Subcommittee on Immigration, Border Security, and Claims, Committee on the Judiciary, House of Representatives3 found that State had “not exerted sufficient management oversight…and has been slow to address pro­gram deficiencies.”

Can you imagine if American kids on foreign exchange were abused overseas? As much as I’d like to point at Congress for not providing appropriate resources here, the State Department also does not have a track record of oversight that goes back at least a decade. The latest OIG report on this subject is dated 2009. The 43 allegations of sexual abuse occurred since the beginning of the 2010-2011 school year. So whatever reforms were made to strengthen the program from October 2009 onwards did not do a whole lot.

That’s one plus 42 allegations too many. As for watching them like a hawk, sorry Toria, probably not the best way to put it – makes one think the hawks were asleep through this.

Update:
Clarification from State’s spokesperson when asked about the AP story during today’s DPB:

MS. NULAND: Yeah. This was an AP story that was incorrect today. And as you know, we have called your reporter and asked for a correction. It asserted that there was an opportunity to give FBI background checks to American host families before foreign students came and stayed in their homes.

In fact, we would need legislation in order to make use of the FBI’s database for this purpose. We had a small pilot program* that the Congress had authorized that allowed us to do this for a short period of time. That program has now lapsed, and we would need new legislation in order to make use of it.

But that doesn’t change the fact that we do do criminal background checks on every single American host family on anybody over 18 who’s living in a household where a foreign student is going to be placed, and we obviously follow up with home visits, et cetera.

*The pilot program was under the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

Okay, this clarification makes it even more confusing.  If “we do do criminal background checks on every single American host family on anybody over 18 who’s living in a household where a foreign student is going to be placed, and we obviously follow up with home visits,” that obviously is good.  But, but …. how did we end up with 43 sexual allegation cases in one school year?

Domani Spero

Related item:
OIG Report No. ISP-I-10-16 – Management Review of Youth Programs, Bureau of ECA – October 2009

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Filed under Govt Reports/Documents, Hall of Shame, Learning, Lessons, Public Diplomacy, State Department

Foreign Service Overseas Crisis Readiness Online Course

FSI’s Transition Center and the Leadership and Management School have put together this short course intended to help U.S Government families and members of household prepare for a crisis overseas. It covers preparations to be done prior to departure for post, and upon arrival at post. It also describes the responsibilities of post personnel who have roles during crisis response and have audio clips from recent evacuees.

The online course includes five modules, a summary and review questions in each module. I find the review quiz pretty tame with softball questions but it may still be useful to take them. (Example: You’re going to Kingston, Jamaica, an island with a warm climate, should you pack sweaters and a warm coat?) 

The course is not embeddable so you have to check it out here: 
http://www.state.gov/m/fsi/tc/ocr/

Introduction

Planning Ahead Overview
A Post
You and the Mission
Evacuations: What They Mean for You
Resilience

Planning Ahead: Your Personal Plan

At the conclusion of the brief course, there is a useful template for creating a Personal Crisis Preparedness Plan (see pdf below).  There is also an option to print out the materials. Make sure you check out the “Resources” tab at the bottom of the screen. 

Personal Crisis Preparedness Aid (pdf)

Go-Bag List (pdf)

You never know when a crisis might strike, especially overseas. Preparedness is half the battle, so check this out when you can.

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Filed under Evacuations, Foreign Service, Learning, Spouses/Partners, Training

Governor #HeBlowsALot Apologizes for Twitter Flap Over in Kansas, USA

Oh, Sam Brownback, one of the Senate’s old advocate for human rights in North Korea who decamped to Kansas, USA after the last election is back in the news, and not in a good way.

As the story goes — Shawnee Mission East senior Emma Sullivan, 18 and apparently newly registered voter went with a group of students to the statehouse for a Youth in Government program.

Must have been exciting, she tweeted:

Oops! Except that it’s not even true … she did not actually said that to the guv, but she did tweet it.

Normally, a tweet like that gets overtaken by well, a whole lot of noise in the twitterverse.

But not this time.  Apparently, Governor Brownback’s office monitor social media comments over there in Kansas and saw this tweet. And so the highschooler was reported by the governor’s office to Youth in Government officials. When this hit the news, Gov. Brownback’s spokeswoman Sherriene Jones-Sontag then said, “It was important for the organization to be aware of the comments their students were making. It’s also important for students to recognize the power of social media, how lasting it is. It is on the Internet.” She added of Sullivan’s tweet, “That wasn’t respectful. In order to really have a constructive dialogue, there has to be mutual respect.”

Holy molly guacamole …. where or where did this woman learn her public affairs skills, from Vladimir Putin’s Russia?

So then, the highschooler was called into the principal’s office where Mr. Krawitz, the principal asked her to write a letter of apology to Governor Brownback and his staff. Apparently, Monday was the due date for the letter.

In the meantime,  #heblowsalot started picking up on Twitter.

Somebody even bothered to make a poster here and here.

I imagined it was a rough weekend over there in Kansas.  As if the bad publicity was not enough, there is also a fake Sam Brownback Twitter account. And in the last 24 hours, a Govblowsalot account, specializing in twittermockery was born.

Then Monday came, and the school district, after a weekend of adverse publicity released the following statement:

“District officials have reviewed recent events surrounding the reported tweet by Shawnee Mission East High School student Emma Sullivan.  The district acknowledges a student’s right to freedom of speech and expression is constitutionally protected.

“The district has not censored Miss Sullivan nor infringed upon her freedom of speech.  She is not required to write a letter of apology to the Governor.  Whether and to whom any apologies are issued will be left to the individuals involved.

“The issue has resulted in many teachable moments concerning the use of social media.  The district does not intend to take any further action on this matter.”

Also on Monday, at 10:46am, Governor Brownback’s statement regarding Emma Sullivan’s tweet was posted on Facebook:

Topeka – Kansas Governor Sam Brownback issued the following statement today regarding the tweet by Emma Sullivan:

“My staff over-reacted to this tweet, and for that I apologize. Freedom of speech is among our most treasured freedoms.

I enjoyed speaking to the more than 100 students who participated in the Youth in Government Program at the Kansas Capitol. They are our future.

I also want to thank the thousands of Kansas educators who remind us daily of our liberties, as well as the values of civility and decorum.

Again, I apologize for our over-reaction.”

Yep, Emma, you’re not in Kansas, Russia. 

As of this writing, Emma Sullivan http://twitter.com/#!/emmakate988 has 11,264 followers, up from 60.

The official Gov. Brownback account http://twitter.com/#!/govsambrownback is holding on to its 3,230 followers.

And the guv’s social media monitoring shop just got a heck lot more stuff to monitor.

 

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Filed under Current Stuff, Learning, Politics, Social Media

HBR: Why You Should Question Your Culture – Three Simple Questions

Ron Ashkenas, a managing partner of Schaffer Consulting and a co-author of The GE Work-Out has an article in the HBR Blog Network on Why you should question your culture. Excerpts below:

I often hear executives reassure me that projects will get done because “we have an execution culture,” or that customers will be well taken care of because “we have a culture where the customer comes first.”
At the same time, culture is also one of the great rationalizations for
managerial shortcomings. Many times I’ve heard that a project was
delayed because “we don’t make quick decisions around here,” which is
the managerial equivalent of “the dog ate my homework.”

But the problem with all of these statements — both positive and
negative — is that they don’t really mean anything. Worse yet, they
can’t be translated into any kind of action. At best these declarations
are vague generalizations; and at worst they are misleading stereotypes.

[...]
Any management team can assess its culture by asking these kinds of simple questions across a range of organizational behaviors.
For example: To what extent do we reward individual vs. team results?
To what extent do we share information broadly or parcel it out
narrowly? To what extent do we encourage or discourage risk?

Asking these kinds of questions can smoke out the differences in
expectations that people have about the organization. Not everyone
experiences culture the same way, so a structured way to discuss those
differences can increase alignment and the ability to take collective
action. In practical terms, culture is not an intangible cloud that
hangs over a company, but an outcome of the way people behave on
multiple dimensions. Better understanding of these behavioral patterns —
and how each person experiences them — makes it possible to decide
whether to continue them or not.

Read in full here.

The three simple questions sound like great questions to ask if you’re inside the State Department in general, and the U.S. Foreign Service in particular. Great questions, not sure you’ll find your answers.

 

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Filed under Leadership and Management, Learning, Org Culture, State Department

The First Duty – One’s Obligations In Correct Order

Via Secrecy News:

The Guide explains that when you are in the Army, your first duty is not
to the Army, but to the U.S. Constitution.  “Put [your] obligations in
correct order: the Constitution, the Army, the unit, and finally,
self.”  See “The Soldier’s Guide,” Field Manual, 7-21.13, February 2004, with Change 1, September 20, 2011.

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