Saturday, November 27, 2010

Bird Clock

While traveling somewhere this spring, we stopped at a Cracker Barrel to eat dinner.  They had a couple of bird clocks at a very reduced price.  I have seen clocks like these in other stores, not nearly as inexpensive as this, and decided to get one.  An image of a different bird marks each hour and on that hour, you hear a recording of the bird's call.  I know what a few common birds sound like, but I didn't know what any of the twelve on the clock sounded like.  Cool!  I thought I would learn them after hearing them a few times. 

As it turns out, the clock's sound mechanism is right up against the wall - the sound is kind of muffled.  When it goes off, it's startling...everyone says so.  For me, no matter which bird it is, it sounds like mice in the wall.  I can honestly say I haven't learned a single bird call, and it's been months!  Maybe I'm just not home long enough.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Braces Off

Emily got her braces off last week!  I don't have a great picture of her new smile because my phone camera sucks, but here's what I have.  This is the last of our four children to get braces off.  She is happy to be done with the metal in her mouth, and I am happy to be done with the monthly payments :) 

I got a new ray of hope in getting approval to do my dissertation study.  Only by coincidence, I learned my company belongs to a consortium that funds research.  Not only do we fund it, we turned over our most sensative data to the consortium to study, and we pay expenses for employees to participate in studies.  WTF!  I offered to sign a nondisclosure, keep the company completely anonymous, do the study entirely out of my own pocket, and give them a copy of the results when I'm done.  Long story, but I talked to a man who reports directly to the man responsible for getting us involved in the consortium and sent him my prospectus.  He is going to talk to the main man next week.  Keeping my fingers crossed, and praying for cooperation.  I will extend my deadline to the end of next week.  If I hear nothing positive by the end of next week, I will pursue something else (i.e. throw away a year of work).  If I can get this man interested in my study, he can get the approval I need.

Having a hard time getting into the reading for the current class.  Also, having a hard time writing the literature review for my dissertation.  Maybe I'm just a bit burnt out on all this work.  Working all day, come home, and sit down and work until bedtime.  Day after day.  Until 2012???   I must keep thinking about the reward at the end or I will never finish!     

Wednesday, November 24, 2010


Tomorrow is Thanksgiving - the day we give thanks and eat obscene amounts of food.  We were going to eat at the inlaws' house, meaning I needed to only fix a dish of something to share.  This morning I learned my mother-in-law is ill and unable to cook.  This means I will be doing the whole spread for my family.  Fortunately, they are so used to me rarely cooking that anything I fix will be a treat. Also fortunately, my hubbie is off today and volunteered to go to the store.  Dear God, I am SO thankful to have a husband who loves to go to the grocery store.  It must be true that opposites attract.

Sunday, November 21, 2010


I noticed the jack-o-lanterns the girls carved are looking a bit saggy.  I kind of like them this way.  This is Erin's creation (I really like his pointed teeth):

 This one is Emily's masterpiece.  I believe there is a monster on the left and a cat on the right..or perhaps it's a little goblin of some sort.

I just noticed the Halloween stuff and soon it will be Thanksgiving - people are already shopping and decorating for Christmas.  Where is the time going?  I don't have time to pay attention to these seasons.  Work is overwhelming.  Work.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Magical Convergence

Sometimes without any formal plan, things come together in a good way.  The topic of my dissertation is supposed to be about the affect of a safety management system on measured performance and perceptions of safety (or perhaps risk) in the workplace.  That is still a big question - whether to focus on safety or risk.  The only real difference (as best I can tell) is how it impacts the literature review....but it may also impact the instrument used to measure it.  I need to read much more before I make a decision. 

So, I have been researching safety management systems and wanted to make vPSI the system of focus in my study.  vPSI works by changing the way people solve problems; the metric measures effectiveness in solving problems with idea that better solutions will prevent problems from recurring.  A huge cultural change that results from implementation and use of this system is that workers are more likely to report near misses.  The system rewards near miss reporting.  Near misses happen because of problems (generally), so by addressing these problems with solutions that work to lessen probability of recurrence, risk is reduced.  When risk is reduced, we assume people perceive increase in safety. 

I may not get approval to do my study, but I was given a project last week - develop a near miss reporting system that all the refineries will implement.  This fits perfectly with my dissertation.  In fact, I could use this instead of vPSI...if I could get any sort of approval at all.  The great part is I could control timing since it's my project.  Near miss reporting is an interesting topic, or I should say reluctance to report is an interesting topic.  So on my agenda for this week, I must learn how it makes sense to report near misses and how to measure them.  I think it makes sense to use a weighted measurement of some sort; some issues are more important than others.  The other factor is that I am cleared to do a Six Sigma project.  Six Sigma implies I will have to measure's a huge part of my dissertation.  These mesh perfectly.  I'm doing all the work for the all I need is an OK to use it.

I am running out of time on getting approval.  Two weeks and if I have no approval, I will have to change topics.  I will do what needs to be done to finish this thing on time.  Why does everything have to be so damn difficult?            

Friday, November 12, 2010

Happy Friday

It has been hell being back to work this week after 7 days off for the Atlanta residency.  Over 1050 emails in my inbox, took on two new projects,  deadlines this week, staff changes that affect me and my projects, and other junk.  I walked in this morning, not quite feeling Friday because it's been so hectic...BUT...I had a nice surprise.  Take a look at this!  My plant sent me a message via the sun shining through the window.  The message is that it loves me!!!

So my sweet vine sent me this message and the day was a bit better.  I do believe plants communicate (although really...not by their shadows).  Perhaps it's some sort of chemical communication. 

Busy weekend ahead.  I must make MAJOR PROGRESS on my literature review.  Sunday, we are going to visit Sarah and take a good look at a house she wants to buy.  I still think she would be better off renting because selling property is no easy task and I predict she will want to move withing two years.  We will see.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Shaking it up and closing in on the wire

I made the blog post (at work) earlier this week and was surprised that the approvers approved it immediately and bothered to thank me.  Even my boss and boss's boss complimented me for writing it.  Best of all, the opening paragraph introduced that I am a student and that got the most attention.  People are talking about me and this study I want to do, and I also heard people are watching to see what our leadership will do about it  (ie. will they allow it).  I am ready to fight for it and no longer care how stupid I have to look or who I have to suck up to.  We're getting down to the wire. 

I must get back to work on chapter 2 and secure a perception survey.  Hopefully I can find a generous person who will not charge me to use his/her survey.  Afterall, I am but a poor student and about to get poorer.  Another class starts next week so that means more tuition and resource fees.  It's worth every penny...keep telling myself!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Grim Situation

I learned today that the project charter my colleague and I drafted a few weeks ago has been shot down.  Not only was the idea squelched, my colleague was removed from supporting the user group.  This makes me very sad.  He has great expertise in this area and has built up good relations with the people.  Not only that, he had a true passion for this area of the business.  I believed the scope of the charter was too broad and cautioned him to rein it in.  He did, but then last week (while I was out) he changed the charter to be a comprehensive overhaul of three organizational groups.  Kiss of death....and I'm rather embarrassed my name was on the charter.  These groups are so politically far apart they would never be able to agree to a common solution.

Now I am left solo AGAIN to support this huge and important part of the business.  The manager over this area is a "don't rock the boat" guy who says what he thinks you want to hear, and doesn't back up his words with actions.  It feels like guaranteed failure....but it's my responsibility to help these people step into the 21st century.

Upset with pushback for my dissertation study and add to that defeat of this project by the wrong people, I wrote a blog post that will articulate this managerial issue.  I do potentially have the CIO's ear (eyes?) with the diversity team blog.  I wrote it and edited it a million times today.  Tomorrow morning I will post it and if my two colleagues will approve it, it will be public.  This will set the stage for future discourse...I hope.  If nothing else, I will go down fighting.    

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Ontological Arrogance

Yesterday, I got home from my 3rd year residency in Atlanta, and what a trip that was! Eight days of non-stop, day and night work!  I am into my third year in this program and those of us who are still standing have so much to talk about (and so much admiration and respect for each other)! My class was 13 people in various programs – we had two people in my program (DM in information systems and technology), one in the general DM program, one in the DBA program, two in DHA (healthcare admin), and everyone else in an Ded program of one flavor or another. Where we sat when we walked into the classroom on Day 1 sealed our fates for the rest of the residency. I have been thanking God profusely for my good fortune. We had the best team in the room…meaning we were able to collaborate better and so we had the least trouble compared to the other teams.

We had three teams – one team had 5 people. Only by luck, my team was the least diverse in the room. We had representatives from three disciplines, but my team was all women (we were the only team with no men). In my field, it’s not that unusual to be the token woman on a team, but in regard to my residency team, I was the token white woman. I thoroughly enjoyed working with these ladies, and we were able talk, agree, and get to work while we heard people at other tables still arguing about what they were going to do or how they would split up work. We had 5 presentations in 5 days, and every day we had to have a different team leader. We had a different leader, but during our presentations, people remarked they couldn’t tell who our leader was. That tells me our collaboration was excellent.

The prompts were very generalized and all about very complex problems (economic collapse, species extinction, climate change) - being able to collaborate when there were so many strategic issues to consider enabled us to make decisions faster and better.  Once we got into the research, our decisions needed very little tweaking. On a tactical level, it was very stressful to have so much going on with deadlines, but we delivered consistently because we were able to collaborate and help each other without even needing to ask for help in some cases.  We were so in tune with what each other was doing, we were able to anticipate problems. 

What does this have to do with ontological arrogance? Everything. We interpret problems and make meaning of things based on experiences that are significantly influenced by our disciplines. If we aren’t open to the viewpoints of others, we rely on our assumptions to provide a framework for making meaning of things. If we can’t question our assumptions, it’s difficult to collaborate or incorporate other perspectives into our own thinking. Whatever we are doing, it very well could be that we are doing it the right way. But how do we know if we are doing the right things? More importantly, how do we know what is the right thing to do? This all goes back to single, double, and triple loop learning and this was the focus of my residency.

The residency is done and now I have a week before launching into another class. I’m using this breathing space to process what I’ve learned. More importantly, these new ideas are tools for getting approval to do my dissertation study. I’m going to work tomorrow with a new goal – to stir up trouble (in politically correct ways, of course).