From the Director: Execute the Plans in Place
In 2008, we as a laboratory embarked on a major improvement program. In many areas where we had not evolved to modern business practices and standards, we started planning improvements, and in many areas we started to execute those improvements. We have been commended for heading in the right direction. Our focus now has to be: Execute and deliver what we have planned!
Good plans are in place for many areas of the laboratory where improvements are needed. Business planning in the Operations and Engineering and Technical Services directorates is well underway. In addition, all groups are defining R2A2s (Roles, Responsibilities, Authorities and Accountabilities) for every employee and working to set clear expectations for performance. The next step is for all of us to hold ourselves accountable for meeting that performance. There are improvements in financial planning. A new Work Planning and Control program is being rolled out, along with changes in Environment, Safety and Health oversight functions at the lab. We are embarking on a major upgrade in our enterprise systems (business IT) lab-wide and making significant improvements in the procurement process.
At this moment, I see two challenges in managing these transitions. First, in our eagerness to make progress, we may start to execute changes without sufficient planning. Everyone at the lab is experienced enough to realize that the result of insufficient planning is lots of work but little progress. It can also lead to individualized and "one-off" fixes rather than lab-wide solutions.
On the opposite extreme, we can get so engaged in planning the best ways of doing business that we are reluctant to start making any real changes until every contingency has been considered and every objection has been satisfied. We cannot let this happen.
Progress means making the best plans for the lab as a whole in a reasonable timeframe. Then we have to execute those plans and deliver results, relying on a process of continuous improvement to get all the details right. This is not an easy task. It takes judgment and a measure of courage. It requires setting timeframes for decisions and milestones for progress, and the will to focus on solutions to the issues that inevitably come with change. Everyone with responsibility for executing these changes at the laboratory has responsibilities here. Your senior management will help and support you.
2009 is a year when we, as a lab, need to make a lot of forward progress. I look to each of you to help to execute and deliver on the plans in place.