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November 03, 2006

A Simpler Way…

If politics (internal and external) weren't corrosive and corrupt, if legal precedents were easier to undo, if top brass in the Forest Service were more amenable to "learning organization" management approaches, I'd recommend that the Forest Service revise the "planning rule" to read, simply and exclusivlely:

2007 NFMA Planning Rule: Once every 10 to 15 years revise the forest plan.
Why? First, NFMA requires a planning rule so, barring repeal of RPA/NFMA I guess we need 'a rule.' Second, each and every 'rule' since 1979 has proved to be a disaster in part, or in the main because of an in-built tendency for the Forest Service bureaucracy to over-complicate everything it touches. Third, management theory and practice has moved far away from the 'comprehensive, rational planning' ideas of the past. Instead management theory and practice has moved toward "Sensemaking" following ideas from Karl Weick and others that separate the world into realm of "expected" and "unexpected." Forest planning, arguably is deep into the realm of "unexpected" (wicked problems, surprise, novelty, etc.) and ought to be treated as such.

At the same time we need to decommission the Manual and Handbook system. (one of my long-standing policy recommendations ).

Certainly the agency would have an interesting journey working up an EIS to accompany a shorter non-rule "rule." It would prove interesting to see how the Forest Service might begin to frame Sensemaking, Scenario Planning, Adaptive Management, and organizational learning as part of a new Simpler Way to management. Framed here in an EMS context.

But hey, what ever happened to the Forest Service sense of adventure? Certainly the agency must have had a sense of adventure, sometime in the past. Or are all the tales told of earlier eras just tall tales?

So what the hell, I recommend that the Forest Service take this step in spite of the political and legal environment. Agency policy-makers keep shooting themselves and agency practitioners in the foot by over-complicating things. Time to try something different.

Note: Just so you know, I am a big fan of Margaret Wheatley and Myron Kellnor-Rogers approach that we can label A Simpler Way following the title of their renowned book. Here's a link to some of Margaret Wheatley's work.

Note Further: Links to related Iverson rants:

Posted by Dave on November 3, 2006 at 02:25 PM | Permalink


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