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Moving Forward on the Management & Operations Improvement Agenda: Next Steps

For the past two weeks, the McCallum Turner team has been onsite interviewing hundreds of employees and users. By meeting with approximately 20% of the lab staff, the eighteen team members learned how SLAC's management and operations (M&O) systems work.

Before the McCallum-Turner team left SLAC, they participated in wrap-up sessions. In every one of the 11 areas, the wrap-up session started with a situation assessment. These were summaries of what they heard. We then heard general conclusions and recommendations from the situation assessment. These preliminary thoughts now need to be assessed, integrated, prioritized and resourced. Over the next few weeks, these early thoughts will be developed into a consistent and coherent set of recommendations with the assistance of the McCallum Turner team.

However, while these situation assessments and early conclusions are still being reviewed and validated, it is not too soon to share some of the things repeatedly heard in the wrap-up sessions as being critical to our success with the M&O improvement agenda:

  • We have an incredibly dedicated and hardworking staff. Lab employees are motivated by their loyalty to SLAC as an institution and are eager and ready for change.
  • The lab staff is aware of most of the issues and problems, and is looking forward to working with senior management to develop a coherent strategy.
  • A unified management commitment, led by the Director, is essential to make the needed changes.
  • Management needs to establish and communicate expectations and requirements. Communication throughout all levels of the lab will be critical to success.
  • We need to measure and evaluate performance more systematically across all levels of our organization, measured against a lab-wide strategic plan.
  • Roles, responsibilities, authorities, accountabilities and expectations need definition and clarity.
  • Key institutional decision-making processes need to be clear.

These observations applied in virtually all of the 11 areas and specific suggestions were made tailored to each area. Over the coming weeks, these observations will be turned into recommendations and a multiyear implementation plan to move SLAC forward toward establishing excellent M&O functions to optimally support the mission of the lab.

I know many of you are eager to get started addressing the initial ideas that you heard from McCallum-Turner. An analogy I like is that of a major remodel of a house. We need to plan the strategy and identify the resources needed for success. We also need to chart a work plan with priorities to ensure we can continue to 'live' in the house while the remodel is in progress. Planning and thoughtful steps now are essential to ensure a successful outcome.

Persis S. Drell, SLAC Today, September 25, 2007