Tillerson’s Aides Brief Senate Staffers on @StateDept Reorganization With a Chockful of Buzz Words

Posted: 11:41 am PST


On November 7, we wrote that a State Department top official did a presentation to ranking officials of the agency concerning the ongoing redesign (see @StateDept Redesign Briefing Presents Five “Guiding Beliefs” and Five “Key Outcomes” #OMG).

It looks like that presentation document was expanded and was used to brief the aides at the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on November 9. Politico’s Nahal Toosi posted the briefing document here crammed with corporate buzz phrases.  Oh, where do we start? Maybe the corporate B.S. generator helpfully pointed out to us on social media?

Slide 2 is labeled Overview of the DOS/USAID Redesign / Culture Change. It asks “What is Redesign?” and has the four bullet points with lots of words, but short on the how. Or the why for that matter. What kind of cultural change does this redesign envision? What is the current organizational culture, what’s wrong with it, and why is this new culture better? We don’t know because it doesn’t say on the overview. We do know that the SFRC bosses were not satisfied with the briefing given to the staffers.

So when they talked about “Focusing on strengthening the State Department’s and USAID’s future capacity” how did they align that with hiring below attrition with a graying workforce, a third of them eligible to retire by 2020?  (see @StateDept/USAID Staffing Cut and Attrition: A Look at Real Numbers and Projected Attrition).

A third point says “Equipping us to be the U.S. government’s agency leader in foreign policy and development over the next forty years.”

Lordy, who wrote these slides? Also folks, why forty years?  That’ll be 2057, what’s the significance there? Or are they talking forty years in biblical time as in Numbers 32:13“The Lord’s anger burned against Israel and he made them wander in the wilderness forty years, until the whole generation of those who had done evil in his sight was gone.”

Slide 3 is an Overview of the Approach like “grow the appetite for change” — uh-oh, wait, but those folks over there are shaking their heads. What’s that? You’re not hungry?  Well, that’s gonna be a problem right there.

  • People support what they help to create.
  • Build everything from the framework of supporting the Mission.
  • Embed sustainable capability and produce demonstrable results as you execute change.
  • Our leaders elevate their leadership and embed new behaviors by actively engaging in, and leading, the Redesign.
  • Grow the appetite for change as we continue to change with immediate impact projects.
  • Innovate (create new value) to bolster delivering the mission in the future, not from merely fixing problems.
  • Processes are where the work gets done (everybody has a customer to serve).
  • Don’t build a bureaucracy to reduce the bureaucracy.

That’s okay, you go ahead and shake your head, or throw up if you must but not on the carpet, please.

Slide 4 includes the six “Workstreams” and lists “key activities.”  We should soon hear about those 3-6 “Immediate Impact Initiatives”.

Slide 5 includes the Guiding Beliefs for the Redesign (also see @StateDept Redesign Briefing Presents Five “Guiding Beliefs” and Five “Key Outcomes” #OMG).

Slide 6 is Phase III and we’d like to learn how the State Department is creating an “organization-wide engagement and inspiration” and where are these “quick-wins” that we have heard so much about?

Slide 7 is labeled Outcome Teams with Selected Objectives as of November 9, 2017. This briefing has favored words like “nimble”, “agility”, “sophisticated data analysis” etc. It talks about “Nimble and Effective Policy Decision—Making”, “Nimble and Data-Informed
Decision Making”, “Mission-Driven, High-Performing, Agile Workforce” and “Mission-Enabling, World-class Infrastructure and
Support.” The brainy consultant in our house does not have any idea what all that means.

Slide 8 is a “must see” slide on Leadership Development that will inspire you to be intensive and be a high performance leader.

But seriously, we’ve been thinking hard about this. Growing leaders take time. The members of the A-100 class today will not likely be in top leadership roles until after 2027. Looking at this particular slide makes us wonder if the redesign effort and these management consultants are going to be around not just until 2018 but beyond. Way beyond. If there is going to be a new breakthrough project-centered performance, then the somebodies gotta explain what it is and how do you “break into” an “entirely new realm of impact and leadership.” Since FSI’s Leadership and Management School, as far as we know does not have this in their curriculum, we’ll have to watch what’s going to happen next over there.

Makes us also wonder what happens with this redesign exercise if Tillerson leaves before it is completed, or if he is replaced by somebody like Mike Pompeo.  We’re still looking for the efficiency task force support contract which is still missing from fedbiz, if you’ve seen it posted anywhere, please give us a holler (see @StateDept Awards $2,105,663 Contract For Efficiency Task Force Support #Redesign).