Before we ask whether web-logs (blogs) might help in updating directives, we might ask whether this blog helped in the developing R4 comments on the NFMA Planning rule. In particular, did “Forest Planning Directives: What’s right, What’s wrong” help Intermountain Region employees in working up a consolidated regional response?
The answer to the latter question is, “Probably not.” Why? I believe there are several reasons for this failure:
Possible reasons why the “Forest Planning Directives” blog didn’t help:
- Forest Service field-level people are overwhelmed with too much work and are too stressed to work up comments on something as esoteric as "directives."
- Forest Service field-level people believe that this work is rightly done by the WO, in consultation with the ROs.
- Forest Service people are fearful that if they speak major-league ill against draft directives (or anything else) there will be repercussions, perhaps subtle but repercussions nonetheless.
- Forest Service folks are not familiar with web-logs, and are still captivated by email.
- Regional sponsors (particularly me) did not advertise the blog well to chum folks into using it.
- People may be overwhelmed (or underwhelmed) by the task of redoing the massive NFMA draft directives. Underwhelmed because the NFMA directives have never been wildly acclaimed as helpful. Why bother to work on changes to something that isn’t perceived helpful anyway—and will likely not be abandoned by “the powers that be?”
- People who have submitted comments on things in the past, know all-too-well that there is little chance that what they say will even be read, let alone attended to.
- There a feeling shared among some, perchance misplaced, that our organizational morale is at an all time low.
Might blogs be helpful in directive review, and quality improvement in general? Perhaps, assuming major organizational malaise can be overcome.
Ways that blogs might help in quality improvement efforts:
- Quick way to share information, suggestions, policy and practice proposals, etc. and acquire feedback. There is an added bonus that all stakeholders can see feedback and comment on the feedback as well as original suggestions, etc.
- Non-intrusive way to share information – only those who want to be informed will take time to look, and can do so at their discretion. (This can only happen, however, once people become accustomed to checking-in on a regular basis, and once system operators learn to structure blogs so that those who want blog entry reminders can get them in time frames that work for them.)
- Automatically creates a historical chronology that allows for tracking of progress in many ways. With embellishment we ought to be able to track areas of agreement and disagreement that tend to shape-shift through time.