Sock it to me, Sock it to me, Sock it to me Reply

US Army Heritage Center Fall 2011 043

Ridiculous

53 seconds? How long can you hold your breath?

I was cruising around Lucianne.com and some of my favorite conservative blogs today. In the aftermath of the impressive “Epic Fail” Rick Perry had the other night, opinions are all over the map about his future. Its probably fair to say he did not have his best night ever when his mind went blank. But I don’t think I am ready to say he is done. He is after all an accomplished governor of one of the most resilient states in the union. He can’t have been completely incompetent to have maintained that successful record for fourteen years. Plus, he actually served in the Air Force as an Officer which in my mind automatically places him about ten thousand feet above any community organizer you can mention.

I am not a Perry guy or an anybody else guy at the moment. I want this primary to be as rough and tumble as it can be. I want our guy to emerge bruised but not broken. The Chicago Way will be waiting for whoever survives and we need to be ready as a group for that. It does no good for us to trash each other and frankly, I sometimes wonder if Obama’s people don’t sneak onto conservative web sites just to try and cause trouble.

Refinement

Malachi 3:3: He will take his seat, testing and cleaning the sons of Levi, burning away the evil from them as from gold and silver; so that they may make offerings to the Lord in righteousness.

The stakes are very high. We need a firestorm of refinement and anyone who has not had the sugar coated crap burned off before the next big contest with the evil ones is sure to set us up for failure. We must go through this process and frankly I welcome it. But let those of us who want a restoration of the American Republic remember that the craftiness of the enemy is his hallmark. His words poured out and soothed a large segment of our population long enough to corrupt their votes. It cannot happen again and the only way to overcome it is for a compelling and united message to emerge.

Redemption

By the way, does anybody remember a guy named Nixon? Talk about stiff… then along came a girl named Goldie and an epic moment in lightness emerged onto the lexicon:

sock it to me, sock it to me, sock it to me

 

Goldie   Nixon

Having a little sense of humor is not such a bad thing. Just as long as when the real fight begins, focus on the goal remains the center of intensity. We need a warrior who is willing to do whatever it takes to topple the tyrants of socialism and bigger government. Bring on the ugly and may the best person win.

Winning back the White House will not be the real battle.

Trying to pull the country back together after four years of the most divisive regime in the history of this nation will be the real struggle. No one has any fantasy that the Occupy something or others are going to go away anytime soon, do you?
If you want to restore sanity to the mess in DC, we will need to band together.

Mister Mac

Our National Shame… oops sorry, I meant to say “Happy Veteran’s Day” 2

“Happy Veterans Day” the bright eyed young woman at the check out stand says. She sees my US Navy emblem on my hat. I am not sure why I wore the hat today except maybe out of a self indulgent need to show that I am a veteran. I am incredibly proud of my service in the US Navy. I served from the end of the Viet Nam War until almost the mid nineties. I am sure along the way there were some sacrifices I can claim, but nothing like the men and women who preceded me. Truthfully, other than the insane hours and long periods underwater, I think I was pretty lucky.

So why would I start with such a bummer of a title on a day meant to honor people who have by and large been the ones given the most to preserve freedom? Shame seems like such a harsh indictment and how is it possible to say anything is a “National” this or that?

All schools day 2

I like a parade as much as the next person. I love the flags and polished uniforms of the people who carry them up front. What I don’t like is the unpleasant reminder that other than the larger debts that have been incurred, there are debts that have a much longer consequence.

Officer and Gentleman

23% of the homeless population are veterans
33% of the male homeless population are veterans
47% served Vietnam-era
17% served post-Vietnam
15% served pre-Vietnam
67% served three or more years
33% were stationed in war zone
25% have used VA homeless services
85% completed high school/GED, compared to 56% of non-veterans
89% received an honorable discharge
79% reside in central cities
16% reside in suburban areas
5% reside in rural areas
76% experience alcohol, drug or mental health problems
46% are white males, compared to 34% of non-veterans
46% are age 45 or older, compared to 20% non-veterans
Service needs cited include:

45% need help finding a job
37% need help finding housing

NSHAPC reports at www.huduser.org.

Incarcerated Veterans *

In May 2007, the Bureau of Justice Statistics released a special report on incarcerated veterans. The following are highlights of the report, “Veterans in State and Federal Prison, 2004,” which assessed data based on personal interviews conducted in 2004:

Numbers and profiles

  • There were an estimated 140,000 veterans held in state and federal prisons. State prisons held 127,500 of these veterans, and federal prisons held 12,500.
  • Male veterans were half as likely as other men to be held in prison (630 prisoners per 100,000 veterans, compared to 1,390 prisoners per 100,000 non-veteran U.S. residents). This gap had been increasing since the 1980s.
  • Veterans in both state and federal prison were almost exclusively male (99 percent).
  • The median age (45) of veterans in state prison was 12 years older than that of non-veterans (33). Non-veteran inmates (55 percent) were nearly four times more likely than veterans (14 percent) to be under the age of 35.
  • Veterans were much better educated than other prisoners. Nearly all veterans in state prison (91 percent) reported at least a high school diploma or GED, while an estimated 40 percent of non-veterans lacked either.

Military backgrounds

  • The U.S. Army accounted for 46 percent of veterans living in the United States but 56 percent of veterans in state prison.
  • In 2004, the percentage of state prisoners who reported prior military service in the U.S. Armed Forces (10 percent) was half of the level reported in 1986 (20 percent).
  • Most state prison veterans (54 percent) reported service during a wartime era, while 20 percent saw combat duty. In federal prison two-thirds of veterans had served during wartime, and a quarter had seen combat.
  • Six in 10 incarcerated veterans received an honorable discharge.

From a report in May 2007, the Bureau of Justice Statistics special report on incarcerated  veterans.  “Veterans in State and Federal Prison, 2004,”

We count on people to do the unpleasant things in life in order to preserve our freedom’s and liberty.

It has always been that way. The academics want time to think about things and seek wisdom about how we can all exist on this tumultuous planet. The religious want times to pray about things and seek God’s discernment and not soil their hands in the blood of the sacrifices of brutal battle . The sunshine patriots want time to gin up the courage to live up to their convictions. The Fathers who never served wants to live life in the basking glow of final glory – where the payment of blood, usually on a faithful comrade’s part that is played out while they hold his head in their lap, results in an unlikely and stunning victory. The Mothers just want their sons and daughters back in one piece.

The service man just wants to survive. On a good day he want’s  the guy next to him to survive too. Now that we have produced so many broken men and women, what are we willing to do to help them? How do we help them deal with the pain of seeing body parts mangled and all kinds of unimaginable horrors that result from man’s unbelievable capacity to create destruction? Can you even stand to watch the images shown on History Channel and the other networks that routinely show the grotesque images that result from war?

I feel guilty every time I see a homeless person. I feel guilty because sometimes I think I should have been one of the ones who put everything on the line for their country. I feel guilty because the one time I was in Viet Nam was in March of 1975 on my way to Thailand for a few weeks of forgetting about all that I had thought about before.  I feel guilty that I never served under fire. I will live with that until the day I die.

In Britain and so many other places this day is called Remembrance Day. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Remembrance_Day

We used to call it Armistice Day until a few decades ago when Congress tried to make it one of those famous three day weekends. I really wish we would rename it in some way to remember the original name and purpose. Maybe then it wouldn’t be so easy to walk by the men and women in tattered clothes whose dreams are filled with the nightmares of war. Remembrance Day has been set aside to remember the futility of war. I couldn’t agree more.

God Bless all of you who have given so much of your life to the preservation of freedom. God Bless all of you who still live with the demons of alcoholism, drugs, depression, despondency and on and on. I pray for you today that your future will be wrapped up in the peace that comes from understanding that this was not your fault. You followed your duty as best you knew it. We as a nation are grateful that you bore the cost for us. As the scripture says “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.”

I salute you on this Veteran’s Day. I will remember your sacrifice for the rest of my life.

Mister Mac

By the way… it’s still okay to thank the Vets you meet. Maybe just take a few moments more to think about the actual cost they paid.

I’m not a real hero hero, I’m just an old man

trying to get by the best that I can.

My clothes are real shabby, my walk is so slow

but there once was a time, that was not long ago.

I stood at attention with my friends in the sun,

Our uniforms sharpened, our training was done.

We flew to a country, with rifles in hand.

We had no idea it was such a hard land.

We lost our dear brothers , we lost our close friends.

We crawled into bunkers, and prayed for an end.

Now fifty years later we struggle ahead.

While fighting the battles still stuck in our heads……

Why do you fear me? while you walk quickly by

I only need food so I won’t fall and die.

The home that I dream of beyond the next hill

can you help me to get there?

I pray that you will…

I love America. But I just need a place to sleep tonight. I am so tired,,, can you hear me now???

Make it Count Reply

Make it count.

As you thank the Vets you will run into over the next few days, do something more than a verbal thank you.

Sit down and write Congress. Do it respectfully but do it with the full force of your conviction.

The way we thank Veterans is to stop Congress from wastefully spending on non-value added programs in order to preserve the promises we made to those soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines, and Guardsmen who held the line for all of us.

Do something that counts this Veterans Day

Honor the Promises made to the People who need it most: Our Veterans

     

Respectfully yours,

Mister Mac

Freedom of Speech You Sorry Son of a Beach Reply

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I wish I had a dime for every person on every blog that jumps up and down shouting Freedom of Speech no matter how inappropriate the comment and screams how many people served and died for to preserve it (as they burn and defecate on my flag).

While I do agree that many of my fellow service people over the years fought to defend freedom in general, I can’t imagine Lieutenant Jones strapping himself into the pilot seat of a Huey telling his ground crewman “If I don’t make it back, tell my wife that I did it for Freedom of Speech”.

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Freedom of speech is constantly held up as the sacrosanct standard when it comes to ranting and raving from bloggers and Occupy whatever people. But what does freedom of speech really mean? Are there guidelines that apply? Does calling out someone who violates community norms exceed the statutes?

Here in the United States, we use the First Amendment as our guide. But read the words carefully:

“Congress shall make no law respecting the establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press, or of the right of the people peacefully to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

Philadelphia Part 2 002

Those first four words are both important and misunderstood. It rightfully points out that Congress, acting as its authority as the people’s representative in this established Republic shall make no laws. That does not preclude private organizations from setting up reasonable guidelines within their structures to maintain good order and discipline. If that were not true, you would have to close down as illegal every organization in the United States as having violated Freedom of Speech. I can’t just walk into a Moose Lodge for instance and start shouting about unfair parking fees during a stated meeting if I am not a member of their group.

The problem with the blogosphere is that it is so new, laws and rulings of the Supreme Court that defend organizations against continued harassment and exposure to destructive and subversive posers has just not caught up yet. People can sit in a small room virtually anywhere and lob “junk grenades” into any open forum. Sadly, if they are accepted as members in closed forums, they can do so as well.
The only way to correct the situation is for a moderator to have established rules of conduct, pathways to reconciliation, remediation as needed and a clear set of guidelines which will prevent that “member” from continuing the activities which are deemed offensive in clear wording.

Allentown and Cabelas August trip 044

Language guidelines are acceptable in a group setting. Words that are inflammatory against an individual or a group are well accepted by judicial standards as being justification for expulsion. Threats and coercive statements against the group standards have a well established background of being acceptable for removal of an offending party.

It comes down to the will of the group. If some members are still under a personal set of guidelines that they have adopted concerning freedom of speech, they must judge their own conscience as to the length and extent of that freedom. But strictly from a legal standpoint, the only real “right” a bomb thrower has under the Constitution* is to petition Congress if Congress makes a law limiting their speech (no matter how disgusting and inflammatory)

(* as amended and applied in statues dictated by the Supreme Court)

Just as some may feel he has a right to dissent, we have the right to offer him other places to voice it if he fails to meet the norms of the group whether its language or content violations. I have the freedom of speech to hold that opinion! And I am pretty sure I served for the years I did to preserve that right too!

Mister Mac

War Bonds Freedom of SPeech Poster

(I will be standing by for the grenade attack that I am sure will follow. I would ask you to think about one thing though: Just as the Free Speechers will jump to the defense of flag burning anti -American protestors, isn’t it kind of hypocritical to attack somebody who says they are wrong?)

July 4th weekend 2009 003

How to win the BIG lottery 1

PICT0011

Everybody seems to be looking for some way to win a lottery of one kind or another.

We know the odds against winning are infinitesimal. Despite that well known fact, people still pony up their dollars and eagerly await the random numbers to come popping out of the machine. Scratch off tickets, pick four and all the rest are also very popular. So much so that many people now even put them in Christmas and Birthday presents. What a great multiplier if that person actually wins! (I wonder if anyone ever remembers the person that actually made them money?)

Recently, I have been noticing a different kind of lottery though. I do have to admit that even in this modern day of equality, it doesn’t evenly apply. In fact almost every single winner in this particular lottery is female. That’s right, the sexual harassment lottery. Now I will be the first to admit that it did happen with an abundant frequency back in the day. There are probably small pockets of it here and there in some smaller companies. If it is true and legitimate quid pro quo, hang ‘em high, they deserve their fate. I will also be the first person to fight for anyone to have a harassment free work place.

More and more though, the argument that “so and so made me feel uncomfortable” seems to be the lowered bar for a career death sentence. Interestingly enough, conversations in the workplace have gotten more risqué and my personal observation has been that women are more often than not the instigators. Frankly, after several hundred sexual harassment lectures where you are compelled to sign your rights away to some nameless faceless HR organization, any guy in his right mind would be incredibly reluctant or just plain stupid to start such a conversation. I heard a story recently about a  woman that mentioned in the course of a conversation that she had “accidently” turned on a Showtime channel and was fascinated by the lesbian scenes. This person was straight (?) and long time married. And yes, after the shock wore off, the subject was changed very quickly.

So how does the lottery work? Well, its actually pretty simple. Keep your eyes and ears open around any boss near you. Its easier if you set up an atmosphere of trust with them (all in the name of office harmony) and then just wait. Sooner or later he will do something patriarchal or borderline inappropriate. Its bound to happen sooner or later. Remember, you have a good eight to ten hours exposure every day for months on end so the opportunity to pick up a “hit” here or there is probably endless.

Once you have some documentation (dates and times you felt uncomfortable) find the closest female HR manager to your business unit you can. Despite the fact you may have been swearing like a drunken sailor the night before at a hockey game, practice your crying and indignant posturing. Make sure to mention that you felt too intimidated and afraid to tell the person directly that you were offended! This is key to your case. If you can even manage to tie in that person’s boss in the fear and intimidation thing, BONUS POINTS!!!

The more drama, the higher the lottery for you! The guy will probably be fired, lose his health care plan, his reputation, his retirement, and any chance of being hired again as a manager. The company will do whatever it takes for you to keep quiet. You can have a wonderful feeling that you got the bastard and life goes on. But just like the lottery, there is an extra “multiplier” at the end of your deal.

The guy had some skills that got him to the place he was before you came along. Society can be pretty forgiving if he does his best to overcome his past “Indiscretions”. At some point, he even decides to run for President. After all, he is smart enough to help the nation with his broad experience and talents at a time when he is needed the most. Even if its ten to twenty years after the “alleged” incident, here is where the big lottery really kicks in. Despite the fact that you haven’t felt the need to be morally outraged since receiving your last payment from the company you worked for, here is your big chance to show the world how aggrieved you were.

The biggest part of the lottery has little to do with money. It is about power. You get one more chance to show the guy who really is boss. Whether the offence was intended, accidental or even real in anyone’s mind besides yours, you get to kick him in the ass ONE MORE TIME! In public this time. Congratulations, you have won the Victims Lottery. There seems to be no statute of limitations on the act.

Herman Cain may be an obnoxious person in person. He may have even given reason for the incidents to be investigated. But the cowardice of the people who only brought the alleged issues back up when he could be hurt the worst is despicable. Can someone explain to me why these “victims” waited until just this very moment to become outraged again???

How does this get solved? First, continue communicating between all workers what is appropriate conduct in a work setting. There should be no double standards about what can be communicated and how it is communicated in the workplace. If women are to be truly empowered, there should be a policy in place that allows them to act quickly if there is an intimidation or harassment issue. Step one should be that the person they are upset with is confronted directly and given the chance to stop whatever it was that has caused the problem. In the dozens of people I have spoken to over the past year who were accused, very few of them realized that what they said or did was offensive.

Step two should be an opportunity for redemption. If the event is found to be real, counseling and a performance improvement program are appropriate. Step three would be a more permanent solution if all other means have failed.

Why bother? Well, firing someone with thirty to forty years of experience, business knowledge and technical ability seems to be a pretty high price for a company to pay for somebody’s “feelings” getting hurt. Hell, just the cost of finding and hiring a new replacement who will not bring anywhere near the experience of the person to the table should be a good reason not to jump the shark. Finally, you can rest assured that the person will recover and will do everything in their power to make up for the indignity. I have even heard of guys who went to the competitor and did a bang up job.

Well, off to Church. I think I’ll say a nice prayer for the Cain family this morning. I may even pray for all the lottery winners. Hopefully they don’t have any trouble sleeping at night or looking in a mirror. They probably won’t though. Hockey season is about to start again.

Mister Mac

Mandatory Disclaimer (as verified by my team of lawyers and counselors)

No one living, dead or yet to be born should ever be perceived as having been represented in this short allegorical illustration… I apologize to any women who may be offended by this fictional diatribe… I love you guys and have spent a lot of money on my wife and previous girlfriends to prove it… my sincere apologies to all Safety Professionals who’s goals in life are to prevent injuries and permanent damage to their people (I know that none of you would ever put your inflated ego ahead of anyone’s safety or career)… and to all of my Brothers and Sisters in HR, you know I respect you in an appropriate way that is non-committal, deemed to be offensive, and certainly not intended to breach any known or unknown policies in regards to race, creed, color, sex, sexual persuasion, fevered imagination of an imaginary threat or in any way that might possibly demean or diminish any individual freedom or right in anyone except myself and all those like me who do not otherwise fit into a protected category by Federal Law and secret tribunals. If you are in any way offended by this article, let me be the first to offer a sincere blanket apology which is unconditional and should be perceived to cover all offences past present and future. No animals were actually harmed in the writing of this post.

Crushed But Never Broken Reply

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I love special holidays. Special holidays are those that let me honor the people who have given so much to ensure our freedom – the members past and present of the United States Military. Without their sacrifices, I would be unable to sit at my desk and write the words that I do in absolute freedom from fear.

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On those days, I bring out my collection of flags. Starting with the large American flag that was my Dad’s all the way down to the small flags on wooden sticks. I have flags from all the services, banners, a huge Navy display (imagine that) and one of my proudest possessions is a complete set of signal flags that my Mom made for Dad years ago using nothing but her hands and her trusty sewing machine.

On really special days (Memorial Day, Independence Day, Armed Forces Day) the displays get pretty large. Fortunately my wife has grown to understand my need to decorate and celebrate our freedoms. I am sure there have been times when she wanted to take a small vacation until all the flags and decorations were safely stored back in the boxes.

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A few years ago we lived in a quiet little community in North Carolina. It was a nice house with a wooden fence all around the back yard. Angus and Rufus were just puppies so the yard was about perfect for them. The wooden fence also offered a great backdrop to one of my best displays of all time. It was a Navy specific holiday and I may have gotten just a little carried away. It took most of the morning to place the flags just so and by noon, it was done.

Some people would stop and look, some just drove right on by. It really didn’t matter to me much one way or another since the display was for someone else. On that day however, I got to know one of my neighbors a lot better. When I reflect on all that is good with America and its promise of freedom, I think of Zoltan and his wife. They came over that day to thank me for the display. Then we began a series of conversations that taught me another view of America and what it stands for to people who have lived in slavery.

November 4th shooting  300px-1956_hungarians_stalin_head

Zoltan and his wife were both in their eightieswhen we met them and both were slowing down. He had come to America with only a suitcase and a dream. His dream was to live in a country where a man could accomplish anything he was willing to work for. They had come from Hungary and it was an event that happened on November 4th 1956 that sent them to find a new life along with over 200,000 of the countrymen and women. Several thousand Hungarians never made it out alive and over 700 Soviet troops also paid a price.

Rebels on Tank  250px-Hole_in_flag_-_Budapest_1956

From the 23rd of October to the 10th of November in 1956, the Hungarian people rose up against their communist masters and the Soviets. They had fallen into a sphere of influence at the end of World War 2 that slowly but surely strangled the freedom that so many had looked forward to at the end of the war. By the fall of 1956, a student demonstration poured into the capital of Budapest to the parliament and tried to enter into a radio station. They were fired upon by the State Security Police and word quickly spread throughout the capital.

250px-Time_Man_of_the_year_1957Hunagarianfreedom_fighter

Soon, the revolt spread throughout the country and the government fell. The Soviet troops in Hungary were defeated with the Secret Police forces and it seemed like the Hungarians would be able to wrest control away from their puppet masters. At first, the Soviet Politburo indicated a willingness to negotiate the withdrawal of Soviet Forces and at the last minute changed their minds.

Tanks on streets  Soviets putting down revolt

On November 4th, Soviet tanks and armored forces entered Hungary and systematically crushed the Hungarian Freedom Fighters. The fighters pleaded for outside help but none was sent from any of the Western Powers. The after the fact records reveal that there was too great of a fear that the Soviets would use their nuclear weapons and no one on either side wanted to turn lose that monster. By November 10th, the revolution was completely destroyed and the Soviets ended up solidifying their hold on all of their border countries. For many, this was one of the darkest chapters of the Cold War.

Refugees

My neighbor and his wide were among the many who escaped to freedom. They had family in the United States and they managed to work their way through Switzerland and obtain a visa to come here. He was a dentist by trade so it didn’t take long for him to not only establish a practice but purchase a modest home for his family. They learned English and adopted their new country in a way that is typical of many of the emigrants who came here seeking freedom. Zoltan told me on more than one occasion that he struggles with the concept of young people seeking to change the country to a socialist or worse political system. Why would anyone willingly give up freedom for slavery to the state?

“If you have ever lived in a country where tanks can freely travel on city or country roads to hunt and kill your fellow citizen’s, you would do everything you could to seek and protect your freedom.”

I have known many people who talked about patriotism in my life. I have never met someone who cherished freedom and the country that gave it to him. Maybe its because he had seen the men with bayonets coming down the street. Maybe seeing your flag ripped down by jack booted thugs was too much to bear. Maybe the sacrifice of watching your wife and children shivering in a cold winter shelter waiting for a hoped for pass to freedom drove a deeper sense of meaning into him. But my friend Zoltan had tears in his eyes the first day he came over to my yard to tell me how much he loved the display.

The occupy “whatever” people are a shameless group of hypocrites. Those that cowardly hide behind their movement to advance socialism and worse should have spent a day or so with Zoltan. Perhaps they could have had the same feeling I had after hearing his stories.  I miss him, but his memory will stay with me forever.

P1000683

I am not ready to give up my country to selfish whining children who don’t want to honor the debts they incurred. I hope you agree.

Mister Mac

SWOT you talkin’ about Willis? Reply

The Drummonds

I am taking a break from the cares of the world today and having a little lean and continuous improvement fun. The old TV show Different Strokes is pretty appropriate for a day like today. It was fiction of course, but you get a 1%er taking on the responsibility to raise a couple of kids from the 99%. Oh the fun and frolicking as they try to fit into each other’s worlds. Of course, this was in the carefree world before pants on the ground, hip hop sound, and designer drugs (at least not that we knew of…)

Gary Coleman

The show centered around all of the antics of the cast. One of my favorite episodes had a huge social message. As a reporter for the school newspaper, Arnold learns that drugs are being sold on school grounds. This attracts the concern of First Lady Nancy Reagan, who comes to the school to talk about her anti-drug campaign.

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Sadly, the lessons didn’t last very long for the actual crew members. I wonder if Mr. Drummond would have taken the risks he did if he had conducted a SWOT analysis?

What’s a SWOT analysis?

One of the best exercises in planning I can think of is the exercise called a SWOT Analysis (Strength, Weakness, Opportunities, and Threats). If properly done, this exercise can help a team put together a plan than gives them a greater chance at success or can identify that they have enough obstacles in play that might delay their progress.

There are probably just as many ways to do a SWOT as there are consultants (meaning a lot) but over the past few years I have experimented with a few that seem to have a good rhythm. My favorite is a combination of different tools that lead to an actionable plan.  There is nothing better than taking a concept and seeing it turn into something that adds value to the group you are working with as well as the end customer.

The concept is always first. It can come from anywhere but in order for it to grow into action, a careful examination of the risks and benefits is probably a great first step.  Like many of you, I have run into concept people all through my professional careers. They have these brilliant streams of energy in a new idea but after a short bit you realize they have absolutely no clue on how to actually do it. In many cases, these people have another name: The Boss. It may be possible to whack some young engineer upside his or her head and send them dejectedly back to their cubicle carrying their goofy idea. But when the person who writes your evaluation and decides your next merit raise has one of theses ideas, you are a bit more reluctant to turn them off.

(Note: I was kidding about the young engineer part… any great company will cherish innovation and reward the fresh young minds that dare to step outside of the comfort zone. If they truly are inspired, they will end up being your boss at some point anyway so keep that in the back of your mind as well before you go smacking them around.)

Here are a few steps that I try and follow along the path

  • Seek Clarification. Concept people sometimes have two versions of the same idea. One is a grand earth shattering scale and one may be a bit more readily obtained. Make sure you clarify which one is the primary objective. If they say both, drive towards getting them to commit towards what they can realistically expect given the time frame in mind and the amount of resources and budget they are willing to spend. If the sky is the limit, unlimited resources are provided and you can finish when it is truly finished, celebrate the day! This will probably never happen again in your entire career.
    • If however, it needed done yesterday, no resources can be freed up, and your budget will be minimal, this is the most valuable time to practice your SWOT skills.
  • Once you have gained a greater understanding of the actual task, quickly assemble a few trusted colleagues in a cross functional team. You don’t want people who all have the same skill sets and priorities or you risk missing something critical. Group think is easier in a comfortable setting.
  • There have been times that I have actually included the company “grenade thrower” to sit in on a few meetings. On purpose. You may not be blest with one of these, but they are normally someone who will quietly come into an important conference meeting and wait until you are fully unprepared and throw a grenade into the middle of the room.

grenade

  • Rarely will they actually tell you they have additional information (the grenade). Instead they will wait until just the right time. Inviting them throws them off their usual guard and can actually reveal their hidden information at a more convenient time. You should be warned never to assume they can be fully trusted by the way… my experience with professional grenade throwers is that they have an endless supply of grenades.
  • In the meeting, you quickly reestablish the guidelines for how you will proceed and interact. I try to have a flip chart there and some dark markers (that actually work and are actually designed for flip charts). Start simple with a brainstorming activity to capture the general ideas of what people perceive as the obvious strengths. I like to start with the positive things first since they reinforce that the idea has some merits and is worth spending the time to develop. If the group sees nothing positive about the project, you should still move forward to determine why they think it will not be beneficial.

After you get enough bullet points for each area, prioritize the ideas. I normally use post it note voting. Each person is given an opportunity to rank the bullets for each of the four areas. Using 1 –2 –3 (high to low) the team then continues until a consensus is reached on the most important points. For the plus sides (Strengths, Opportunities) put the sheets aside for the time being. For the Weaknesses and Threats, spend a bit more time fleshing out what you have. Once a true consensus is reached for the top three in each area, put up a fresh sheet for each idea.

Now the team will begin to build countermeasures for each major item. Using a SMART approach (Specific, Measureable, Achievable, Realistic and Time bound) set up plan of actions to mitigate the threat and strengthen the weak areas. Make sure that specific includes the name of the person who will ultimately be called to task for the result.

Great communication is needed from the moment the tasks are assigned until the goals are met. You may require some additional meetings but let the group make the commitment for timing and frequency. In the end, celebrate the wins and learn from the perceived losses. Keep a lessons learned log and document the entire process. I normally use Power Point since it can double as the presentation you will probably end up making to the stakeholders.

Last thought: If at all possible, have some fun while doing the activity. If the whole thing is perceived as nothing more than a time killing activity with no excitement, that will be reflected in your outcomes too.

HI 17

Well, that’s it for now. As always, if you have any questions or comments, they are always welcome.

Mister Mac

How did this thing get so far out of alignment? Reply

Like many submariners, I spent a few weeks in one shipyard or another helping to fix wear and tear issues. As an Auxiliaryman (A-Ganger) I quickly found that there is a special kind of hell reserved for us in a shipyard. Since our equipment and systems run the length of the boat, our work could be almost anywhere on any given day. Auxiliary Division was responsible for air systems, trim and drain systems, ventilation systems, service air systems (high and low pressure), hydraulics (internal and external) the diesel on some boats and certainly anything associated with masts and antennas.

That of course is just a short list. In the shipyard we also gained ownership of the temporary services and equipment that would allow work to be done on the major ones. The passages and hatches quickly became clogged with lines and hoses that provided many of these services. While necessary, they merely added to the already cramped atmosphere of a submarine. On my list of “Happy Things” ridding the boat of all this extra crap at the end of a yard period will always stand as one of my happiest.

The reason I used to equate shipyards with hell had to do with the type of work we had to do and the location of much of it. Since our equipment was “auxiliary” it frequently was located in places very much out of the way. This required one of two things… either you found the smallest guy in the division for certain jobs or you had to remove the deck plates. Worse yet, you had to remove the framing for the deck plates in order to do serious work. The overcrowded conditions got even worse at that point since inevitably you would not only have to work below where they had previously been, but on the other side which would now require special rigging.

The yard period could last months (even a year or more under some circumstances) which saw the changes of many of the crew members before reassembling the boat. Even if you didn’t have that much change, remembering where everything was before and where the parts had been stored for safety was always a miserable ordeal at the end of the period. Deck plates were a particular bedevilment for all of those reasons.  You not only had to remember where the plates went, you had to have the right frames in the right places. Even then, you often faced one of the toughest challenges. The bolts.

The bolts holding the plates in place were critical for not only safety but helped to keep the plates from becoming noise generators during subsurface operations. The deck plates needed to be complete aligned in order to make sure all of the holes could be used. But I swear, shipyard gremlins must come on board every boat during their yard time and carefully realign each and every deck plate so that it would never again fit the original designer’s plans. I have never been able to figure out how three of the four holes could be aligned so well that the bolts almost threaded themselves in place, but the fourth? He would be so far out of alignment you would swear you had the wrong plate.

The San Francisco (my middle boat) was the worst. I know Newport News did a fine job on initial installation because I distinctly remember removing all of the bolts in the machinery room with what seemed at the time as relative ease. Being on two previous boats, I remembered the nightmare of plate and support arrangement so we had devised a careful map to reassemble them. We even had a special locker designated to hold critical parts. I was so proud of my foresight, I was sure we would have an easy transition back to being an active boat. After all, it was only going to be a few short months anyway. What could possibly go wrong?

The months went fairly quickly and we were able to fix almost all of the major issues with relative ease. The word finally came that it was time to put things back together and prepare for our sea trials. A few of us went to the Machinery room and prepared to put our plan into action. It all seemed so simple. And then we began.

Did you know that after a submarine is built it goes through a series of sea trials? (any self respecting bubblehead is shaking his head up and down). Did you also know that between the end of building to the first shipyard, that boat will execute wild turns to the right and left, entire a number of storms on the surface and below and take excursions to test depth a number of times? And did you know that the dimensions of the boat can change ever so slightly over the course of a few years of these operations?

Yea, neither did we. The San Francisco has now entered the Twilight Zone. Things like three of four deckplate screwholes aligning with a dead fourth are not only possible, they seem to be mandatory. Frames that used to be flush now ride at awkward angles creating potential sound shorts which could reveal our position at a critical time. Those bags of screws? The locker they were carefully placed in was ordered to be emptied on one of the days you weren’t there and Fireman Jones followed the instructions to the “T”.

SlottedFlatCapScrews

Now there comes a bit of pressure. All of the other work is done, the Captain would like to get to sea, and you are holding up the progress with loose and misaligned deckplates. This is where creativity takes over. The whole gang plus the Chief end up in the room. Substitute crews are found (thank goodness the Olympia was across the pier and not going to sea for a few weeks). Sledge hammers and grinders modify the alignment and soon the plates are back in place, ready to fight another day.

Of course all of us but Fireman Jones would eventually transfer before the next shipyard period. Then the hellish cycle would start all over again. Sometimes when I see that a relatively new boat is being decommissioned before one that is much older, I have a theory why that happens. Frankly, I think it’s the deckplates.

The fundamentals of any structure rely a lot on the “deckplates” for support and utility. When the deckplates are so far out of alignment sometimes, you really do need some over the top methods to get them back into a good place. I think the same can be said about the countries leadership right about now. When you have gaps that are too large in the deckplates, important stuff will fall through the gaps. Somehow we need to get the plates back where they are suppose to be. Any ideas?

Have a great week.

Mister Mac

Seems like just yesterday… 3

I'm so angry

Over 106 years ago, a group known as the Wobblies (IWW) was born in June of 1905 to organize all of the workers of the world into One Big Union

The following is the preamble to the constitution for the International Workers of the World:

 

IWW

“The working class and the employing class have nothing in common. There can be no peace so long as hunger and want are found among millions of the working people and the few, who make up the employing class, have all the good things of life.

Between these two classes a struggle must go on until the workers of the world organize as a class, take possession of the means of production, abolish the wage system, and live in harmony with the Earth.

IWW Is coming    Clenched fist

 

greenpeace 2

We find that the centering of the management of industries into fewer and fewer hands makes the trade unions unable to cope with the ever growing power of the employing class. The trade unions foster a state of affairs which allows one set of workers to be pitted against another set of workers in the same industry, thereby helping defeat one another in wage wars. Moreover, the trade unions aid the employing class to mislead the workers into the belief that the working class have interests in common with their employers.

These conditions can be changed and the interest of the working class upheld only by an organization formed in such a way that all its members in any one industry, or in all industries if necessary, cease work whenever a strike or lockout is on in any department thereof, thus making an injury to one an injury to all.

Instead of the conservative motto, “A fair day’s wage for a fair day’s work,” we must inscribe on our banner the revolutionary watchword, “Abolition of the wage system.”

It is the historic mission of the working class to do away with capitalism

The army of production must be organized, not only for everyday struggle with capitalists, but also to carry on production when capitalism shall have been overthrown. By organizing industrially we are forming the structure of the new society within the shell of the old.”

What will be the form of the Worker’s State? “

“Nobody who employs labor for profit can vote.”

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That sentence was contained in the Letter of support and comradeship from the Communist International (Soviet Russia)  in 1920 to the IWW

http://www.marxists.org/history/international/comintern/sections/australia/iww/open-letter.htm

Like many people, I have been watching the antics of the Occupy whatever people. Many of the old hippies have reappeared in their new garb but the message remains essentially the same. Class Warfare. Without that weapon, most normal people would probably avoid the procession of moon bats, drum beaters, freeloaders, and agitators. What has been disturbing to me is how many agitators are showing up on social media web sites that cater to Veterans and drive a divisive spike into the heart of their main missions.

occupy this

I would find it hard to cheer on the Occupy somebody else’s property group in any case. But seeing them drag the flag, talk about destroying other people’s property, and overthrowing the government to be replaced by some kind of “democracy” more appropriate for the masses just kind of makes me madder than hell. The people who want these things claim to be true Americans yet they fail to remember the basic principles that made America great.

Flags on the ground

The history of the IWW is closely tied to many of the current agitators of today. The community organizers have always had a plan to redistribute the wealth of America more fairly. The people in the Occupy movement are being led by people who are working quietly to help to fulfill the promises of the founders of the IWW. Make no mistake, despite the scrubbed version of who the IWW was a hundred years ago, they were flush with anarchists, anti-Americans, and anti government agitators who would have loved to have seen the same type of revolution as the one that destroyed Russia.

Do not be lured by the simple messages that come from the puppets who occupy other people’s property. The only end game for the agitators is the destructive actions that will fundamentally  change America. Frankly, I have travelled and lived in many other countries over the past forty years. Even with all of its flaws, there is still no Republic on the face of this planet that even comes close in regards to freedom, opportunity, responsibility and a brilliant future if we let it continue to grow.

Power in a civilization will always exist. The real question for ever American is:

Where should that power truly reside?

Mister Mac

1943 Army Poster

2.6 million… Ready or Not 2

Some time ago, I posted a number of articles and references for people in the path of Hurricane Irene. As usual when I post about preparedness, I got a few folks feedback about “paranoia” and “let’s not get carried away Mac”. Fair enough. But as we sat in the living room last night having our coffee and enjoying the beautiful fire, I was once again feeling pretty good about having most everything we needed when the power went off. We are among the lucky ones since our power came back relatively quick (around 2300 hours). Some folks up north will not get their power back for days.

Sometimes I like surprises. Sometimes not. Yesterday was a reminder that a surprise only has to impact you as much as you choose to let it. You can’t always predict how big or what kind of event you will have but you can review how you will deal with it once it hits.

As much as I don’t like big government, I think the ready.gov web site is pretty good for a lot of disasters. There is also the Red Cross web site which includes a few lists and recommendations. I am very fortunate to have a wife who supports my “hobby”. We will be heading out to replenish a few items this afternoon so that we can be ready for the unexpected again. In the meantime, just a reminder:

Are you Ready? Are you Sure?

Mister Mac