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Mayor Nagin’s Performance Report

September 14, 2005 | By | One Comment

Tom Peters once said about managing airlines, “If the tray tables are dirty, they don’t do their engine maintenance.” Lack of attention to detail is not confined to a single block in the org chart. It is usually systemic. And can be historic.


New Orleans

1927 Mississippi Flood

Photo Courtesy of NOAA

US Dept of Commerce

Mayor Nagin’s errors are writ large and small. Let us look at the tiniest of details: spelling. From the Wall Street Journal:

The New Orleans contingency plan…states: “The safe evacuation of threatened populations is one of the principle [sic] reasons for developing a Comprehensive Emergency Management Plan.” But the plan was apparently ignored.

What concerned Your Humble Business Blogger was that “[sic]” which borders on well deserved sarcasm. Principle; Principal? Whatever.

If a manager can’t spell, should he be entrusted with a city?

During my first days on active duty in the Army, I was flooded with some paperwork and I made a few typos. But we had a Cold War to win. Spelling shouldn’t count.

My boss lost his sense of humor and I was reprimanded, verbally. (But I remember it physically.)

“Son,” the senior officer said, “You need better attention to detail.”

I became acutely aware at age 23 that details were important in the adult world. Especially where a mistake would have my people in body bags.

Something Mayor Nagin never learned.


Thank you (foot)notes:

Excellent analysis at Sailor in the Desert on Tragedy.

See Outside The Beltway and Traffic Jam. Which points us to Master Snitch! and his biting epic poem.

Visit Mudville Gazette on Open Post. Good reading at Banter in Atlanta posting the Katrina’s ripple effect.

Ace reviews chain of command in NO/LA.

Michelle Malkin has quote round up of my people.

Review Managing Product Development at How Much Planning is Enough?

Bad Hair Blog actually says it better.

Blog Management

September 13, 2005 | By | 3 Comments


Integrity is still important

Every manager will one day soon need to give direction to his staff on the Planning, Organizing, Leading and Controlling of … Web Logs. Every supervisor in any business from pipefitter to preacher needs Blog Management.

The self-policing of “a virtuous people” is necessary to avoid government oversight and intrusion. Or a visit by a camera crew from 60 Minutes.


Milton Friedman

Your Humble Blogger wrote on this virtue for The Scripps Howard News Service some years ago:

Nobel laureate Milton Friedman has said that a cultural prerequisite of capitalism is the holding of truthfulness as a common virtue. When you can trust a merchant’s word, says Friedman, “it cut[s] down transaction costs.” Without adherence to common moral principles we must substitute external controls to govern business behavior; efficiency demands a framework of standards and accountability.

Substitute “blogger” for “merchant.”

Informal policy guidelines have already been published as many alert readers already know. Guidelines should be added to a manager’s skill set.

Charlene Li at Forrester Research (a consulting firm with a blog) wrote on this last year.

Sample Corporate Blogging policy

1. Make it clear that the views expressed in the blog are yours alone and do not necessarily represent the views of your employer.

2. Respect the company’s confidentiality and proprietary information.

3. Ask your manager if you have any questions about what is appropriate to include in your blog.

4. Be respectful to the company, employees, customers, partners, and competitors.

5. Understand when the company asks that topics not be discussed for confidentiality or legal compliance reasons.

6. Ensure that your blogging activity does not interfere with your work commitments.

She also outlines personal blog standards.

Sample Blogger Code Of Ethics

1. I will tell the truth.

2. I will write deliberately and with accuracy.

3. I will acknowledge and correct mistakes promptly.

4. I will preserve the original post, using notations to show where I have made changes so as to maintain the integrity of my publishing.

5. I will never delete a post.

6. I will not delete comments unless they are spam or off-topic.

7. I will reply to emails and comments when appropriate, and do so promptly.

8. I will strive for high quality with every post — including basic spellchecking.

9. I will stay on topic.

10. I will disagree with other opinions respectfully.

11. I will link to online references and original source materials directly.

12. I will disclose conflicts of interest.

13. I will keep private issues and topics private, since discussing private issues would jeopardize my personal and work relationships.

A thank you note to Le Pen through Christian Connett at ReciprocityBlog.

The more we bloggers can maintain our own ethical standards, the less the public will need the heavy hand of the law, except, maybe for spell checking.


WizBang was studying blogging ethics a year ago.

CyberJournalist wrote in 2003 on Blogger’s Code of Ethics.

USC Annenberg has Influence peddling, “Just don’t call yourself a journalist when you’re cashing that check.” And points us to WOMMA.

BL Ochman has whatsnextblog writing on full disclosure.

See Blog Ethics who links to Rebecca Pocket posting weblog ethics.

daniweb has firing offense.

Tim Worstall has Blog Ethics from the NYT.

Cynthia Webb writes for Washington Post, The Great Blogging Ethics Debate.

The Jewish Ethicist posts, Is the blogger responsible for defamatory posts?

From Web Log Ethics Survey Results,

…the limited support from bloggers for a blogging code of ethics poses a serious problem for advocates of on-line social responsibility. If any inroads are to be made in terms of bloggers regulating themselves, consensus in the community must be developed.

The Survey has interesting data and graphs. Thank you to Dean’s World.

Imprint has be honest and fair.

Martin Kuhn from UNC presented a paper at Harvard on blog ethics,

…it is shown that many bloggers have ranked “factual truth” and “free expression” as the two highest duties of the “good” blogger.

BuzzMachine has a review.

Analysis by Christine Hurt at Conglomerate. Thanks to Instapundit. And more. And links to Bill Hobbs.

Update 23 Sept 05: BuzzMarketingWithBlogs has powerpoints. Short and compelling.

Your Family is Your Business

September 13, 2005 | By | One Comment


Part of the tragedy of the Hurricane Katrina Aftermath is missing children. The flood waters destroyed pictures. Tearful, panicked mothers attempting to describe a precious little one. What would a parent do? No image for a missing-child posting.

Nothing for the milk cartons.

To find the little one fastest a picture is best.


ISO 9000

Naval Aviation

Smart managers know that disaster can strike a business much as the breached levees destroyed New Orleans’ families. Many businesses, especially those with an international scope, use the ISO 9000 certification as a template for recovery.

ISO 9000 standards are used not only to produce a product or service of consistent quality — but also as a framework to replicate an enterprise.

If the building burns down, the employees have a ‘business picture’ to rebuild.

Store the plan two ways: atoms and bytes. The physical paper document is off-site and, most important, web based. Do this with your loved ones: your business; your family.


My Penta-Posse

Today, email and send pictures of your family to a loved one.

And cc me. replacewithjackemail (Yes, it’s worth the spamming I’ll get.)

A picture can help get your business back, and maybe your child.


Thank you (foot)notes:

A Mom and Her Blog

The Indepundit.



Common Sense Runs Wild

Darleen’s Place

And read JollyBlogger on Suffering.

Michelle Malkin reports real charity.

Basil’s Blog has outstanding posts.

The Monster Blog has The Need to Help After The Hurricane.

Update 23 Sept 05: BoingBoing has the single item to take.

Managing Bureaucrats

September 7, 2005 | By | 2 Comments


Rule Number One:

Never Give a Bureaucrat a chance to say no.

Morton Blackwell, founder of The Leadership Institute, wrote The Laws of the Public Policy Process that has 45 such pithy points.

They are helpful to anyone dealing with the servants grinding out the sausage of law, policy, rule and reg. I keep a copy framed near my desk — even when that desk was a part of the Office of the Governor.

Governments and most any very large organization have what my favorite political scientist would call ”multiple points of accountability.’

This is where any stakeholder or key influencer or television camera can veto an action. The Bureaucrat learns very quickly that vetoes will come fast and from all directions with lethal effect onto any movement by said Bureaucrat. There is no penalty for no decision. It is safer for a simple preemptive “No.”


Remember our Bureaucrat is in a matrix (an organizational structure; not the movie — although it may seem that way). He can get fired by a number of bosses. Or worse: to work past 5pm or on Saturday.

We have seen the inner workings of the Bureaucrat in his natural habitat: Hurricane Katrina.

I have found one method of confronting this breed in the public or private sector:


Instead try these three Bureaucrat workarounds:

1) Use a third party. Watch how our Congress does it: Closing military bases a hot potato(e)? Form a commission. Afraid of the abortion issue? Let the Supremes decide. There is always someone, somewhere who will sign off or lift off your project — for a price. (Call me for rates.)

2) There are some Bureaucrats who can be inside champions for your project. Here’s how you can identify this rare subset: Ask them if they like the child’s game of ‘Whack-a-Mole.’ If the Bureaucrat brightens up, leans forward and smiles, start enlisting. If the weather turns cloudy, walk away. Think CIA and spy recruiting.

3) Or my favorite — simply proceed with your initiative, process the paperwork after the fact and beg forgiveness. At 4:55pm. Friday’s are best.

The Aftermath of Hurricane Katrina can be managed by governor Kathleen Blanco, Louisiana’s CEO, if she would start using all three tactics. (Be sure to stay tuned for my posting on firing top executives.)


Obsidian Wings says terrorists are winning this war.

Chernkoff has Katrina details.

Michelle Malkin doesn’t want another darn commission.

Captain Ed has reporting at New Orleans And Louisiana Blocking Aid To Refugees In City.

Volokh reports that money is seldom the problem.

WILLisms says News Orleans should be rebuilt with caveats.

Frank Patrick says we’ve turned a corner but,

What Next? — I’ve been in a funk this week, not unlike mid-September, 2001, but probably more progressive as every bit of news out of New Orleans is more and more depressing. At least the aftermath of 9/11 seemed to be a coming together. There is a lot of that, but the big headlines and lead stories about shootings and lootings and bodies in the streets for days sounds more like a third world civil war than a modern US city.

Johanna Rothman has an outstanding risk analysis at

Managers and (Disaster) Planning.

TVNewster says bureaucracy got in the way in Aftermath.

Brendan Nyhan reports growing discontent with FEMA.

Mark in Mexico is unhappy that Bureaucrat Blanco still won’t enforce evac order,

How many more will have to die before she gets off of her fat *ss and makes a decision? 50? 500? 5 from every disease on the list? What an incredibly stupid cow she must be.

Seth Godin has Bureaucracy = Death.

Update: 4 Oct 05 WunderKraut has view as civil servant from the other side.

Update: 31 Oct Triple Pundit has Carnival of the Capitalists.

Tears and Leadership

September 7, 2005 | By | No Comments


Mayor Nagin in grubby T,

tears to follow

courtesy Wizbang

Mayor Ray Nagin cried during a WWL radio interview about Hurricane Katrina. Senator Mary Landrieu shed a tear on This Week while describing “one pitiful” crane working on a levee. The Aftermath is heart breaking and everyone should have a good cry.

But not the boss. Not in public.

A hundred years ago, as a young army lieutenant, one of my first lessons was that, “An ounce of appearance was worth a pound of performance.” How petty! I thought. So superficial!

And so true. But appearances matter.

My first superior in the army was a Captain Aykroyd, a soft-spoken West Pointer who was most patient in providing guidance in the finer points of Leadership. I once was tasked with the delivery of a pink umbrella misplaced by some Colonel’s wife.


Your Humble Blogger, sunglasses,

sans umbrella

So I was off, with a jaunty step.

“No,” Capt Aykroyd said. “An Officer does not parade about with a pink umbrella.”

I instead wrapped the offensive girly accoutrement with manly red, green and yellow firing range flags and completed my mission. Appearances are an authentic part of the Conduct of Leadership.

I did not need to be reminded to never cry, never blubber in front of the troops.

In World War II on May 13, 1940, Winston Churchill gave his first speech to the House of Commons as Great Britain’s Prime Minister. He famously said:


Courtesy PowerLine

I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears, and sweat. We have before us an ordeal of the most grievous kind. We have before us many, many months of struggle and suffering.

Churchill offered tears; he didn’t produce them.

He closed his speech thus,

“Come then, let us go forward together with our united strength.”

And so must we.


The Talent Show blames the Feds.

The Mahablog cites cites FEMA as a case study in management.

Happy Furry Puppy doesn’t care for Presidential images.

The Left Coaster would rather see dead bodies than Bush rolling up his sleeves.

Thanks to Outside The Beltway and Traffic Jam.

UPDATE: camedwards doesn’t like Republicans crying either.

Be sure to follow Your Business Blogger(R) and Charmaine on Twitter: @JackYoest and @CharmaineYoest

Thank you (foot)notes,

Jack and Charmaine also blog at Reasoned Audacity and at Management Training of DC, LLC.

Y2K and The Management of Hurricane Katrina’s Aftermath

September 6, 2005 | By | No Comments

Leadership is setting the strategic direction; Management is getting things done. Katrina’s havoc shows us that government bureaucracies do not perform well in large scale emergencies where people are dying.


Pundit Guy gives us this picture: 205 New Orleans buses, under the command — or not, as the case may be — of one Ray Nagin. Via Ace who asks “Bush’s Fault?

The Washington Post and others have been critical of the senior leaders running the Katrina operations. And I would agree that the “middle management” should be replaced — by one or both organizations that can deal with death and destruction:

The US Military and private business.

The governments have called up uniformed services. But I fear that the Cavalry was called in too late; a most unfortunate decision by the state’s governor. The civilian leadership should now give more control to the three star general on site and make him truly in command. And to implement control and rescue, the civilian leadership should hire (the liberal) Public Enemy Number One :


The Wall Street Journal has correctly suggested that only very large organizations like Bechtel and Halliburton know how to manage very large disasters. The military uses small platoons and big business knows how to use work-group platoons to accomplish a mission. And we’ve seen this before.


During the Year 2000 roll over we faced such a challenge: a disaster with a known timeline. Your Humble Blogger had the Y2K responsibility for Health and Human Resources, a $5 billion enterprise in the Commonwealth of Virginia. The boss, governor Gilmore, a former military intelligence officer, knew what we could and couldn’t do. So he hired the biggest IT consulting firms on the planet and bought their solutions packages. In my weekly staff meetings I had a dozen of the smartest, profit motivated experts in the business sitting in the room. They let me think I was in control at the head of the table. And maybe so. But these consultants wouldn’t let me, a mere bureaucrat make a mistake.

(Half of the world’s internet traffic passed through Virginia; my continued employment depended on no adverse incidents.)

So Virginia spent $215 million and nothing happened. Nothing crashed. Except for that super-secret CIA satellite…and some defibrillators. Not my fault. No one died.

Louisiana’s Governor and New Orleans’ mayor Ray Nagin should hire Halliburton and leave the Big Easy for the big dogs.


The Evangelical Outpost has more on small unit tactics to win this battle with nature.

Ace of Spades has more on the Mayor.

Thank you to Basil’s Blog for the Covered Dish.

Wizbang has it as always: Res ipsa loquitur…

The Sideshow is unhappy with the redtape.

Michelle Malkin picks between a uniform and the uninformed. (Hint: she goes for the Big Red One, not the little red cup.)

Daimnation has more New Orleans urban legends.

Eric McNulty at Worthwhile has more on what big companies should do. also says disaster relief effort should be outsourced.

Fastcompany has rebuilding the Big Easy.

Update: ProfessorBainbridge has more on contracts.

Update: 4 Oct 05 Monster blog has Crisis Management.