Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Rain on the Scarecrow…, Collapse of Family Farms and the Great Depression(s).

August 21st, 2012

As I sit in one of my favorite Indiana towns for the evening, the following correlation and analogy occurred to me:  Just as it was said that the collapse of the agriculture industry in the ten years prior to the Great Depression of the 1930s foretold of the nation’s prior Great Depression; so can it apparently be argued that the threatened near-total collapse of the family-run segment of the farming industry during the last few decades may have also foretold of the ongoing Great Depression of the New Millennium – of which the nation is currently embroiled (CY2007+).

Adam Trotter

Maybe I'm merely stating the obvious here, though. And, whether the family farm industry managed to pull itself out of the mire is somewhat irrelevant to my point in that the industry appeared to be in dire straights at times and I ask whether such may have amounted to a foreshadowing of the economic difficulties that subsequently appeared across the nation.

The Great Depression of the New Millennium

See also:
John Mellencamp - Rain On The Scarecrow

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Executive Core Qualifications (ECQs): Building Coalitions

  1. Building Coalitions: This core qualification involves the ability to build coalitions internally and with other federal agencies, State and local governments, nonprofit and private sector organizations, foreign governments, or international organizations to achieve common goals. Competencies: Partnering, Political Savvy, Influencing/Negotiating.

August 12th, 2012
For anyone that who might be interested, here was my answer(s).  I wrote this at the end of last May.

Partnering – Partnering is likely the best and most feasible alternative to achieve mutually beneficial goals when faced with shortages of resources and expertise.  Partnering allows for the development of relationships and alliances.  If partnering will allow for success of workplace endeavors, it will often do so at significantly reduced costs.  Successful partnering also provides for other positive externalities as well.  I truly enjoy having the opportunity to work with new people and other entities.  I enjoy meeting others from different organizations and being allowed to have the opportunity to meet new individuals.

Political Savvy – To survive in the modern governmental workplace setting, one must be aware of on-going politics from within and outside of the organization.  In order to succeed, one must be aware of available options and display good judgment as to which ‘battles’ one chooses to fight.  To be successful, one must be able to properly assess when to take steadfast issue to resolve any given difficulty and when it is best to not to do so and let the matter best resolve itself.  I believe that I have a talent for reading political landscapes.  I enjoy interacting with behemoth and bureaucratic organizations to uncover where the matter lies and with whom one must ultimately deal to resolve issues.  From my early days at the University of Maryland in College Park to my days of interacting with a multitude of ____ entities, I enjoy meeting new individuals and uncovering where the real decision maker rests and how to court this individual to view an issue through my perspective.

Influencing/Negotiating – I believe that nearly any difficult or potentially adverse situation can be resolved with a ‘win-win’ outcome for all stakeholders.  To properly influence or negotiate with others, respect and empathy cannot be downplayed.  When the other party becomes aware that the first party is also concerned for the others welfare, the other party then becomes more giving and willing to deal.  Politeness and respect for others also can go a long way in this regard.  When I worked aboard ____ Vessels, my peers seemed constantly amazed at how willing the sailors were to help me with my endeavors, as the sailors did not always do so for my engineering peers.  No matter what the task at hand, the sailors were always willing to help and did help to complete my required efforts.  Though my engineering peers seemed flabbergasted, the matter was simply this:  I was always respectful and pleasant to the sailors, consequently the sailors were always willing and happy to help with my efforts.  

Adam Trotter


Executive Core Qualifications (ECQs): Business Acumen

  1. Business Acumen: This core qualification involves the ability to manage human, financial, and information resources strategically. Competencies: Financial Management, Human Capital Management, Technology Management.

August 12th, 2012
For anyone that who might be interested, here was my answer(s).  I wrote this at the end of last May.

Financial Management – Financial and budgetary processes are important to a successful organization.  Procurement and contracting are extremely important as well.  A proper return on investment is a major concern to most organizations, but maybe not always the sole concern.  Nevertheless, an organization that cannot properly manage its funds has significant issues.  Insufficient budgetary funds also can present unique challenges.  However, justification for budgetary decisions should be based on fairness and with an eye toward any opportunities presented.  I have a long history of productively interacting with financial support personnel.  In fact, many of my co-workers were so despised by members of the procurement department that these engineers would often ask me to author their procurement documents and present the documents to purchasing as if the documents were for my projects.  This was because I maintained such a good relationship with the buyers that buyers would often process my purchase requests with priority over all other requests in their queue. 

Human Capital Management – An organization’s people and employees are the true measure of any business.  Not allowing for employees to flourish and grow surely equates to a death knell for an organization.  However, while an organization should be concerned for the well-being of its employees, the employees should reciprocate with like sentiment for the organization.  And, while the common law may say that employment contracts do not necessarily require ‘good faith’ contracting efforts, I would disagree.  Furthermore, employee performance problems require proper investigation, communication, and problem solving approaches as does any other problem.  Typically, if difficult employment/employee-related problems have been properly addressed, many will resolve themselves.  It is a personal maxim that employees should be enabled to rise to their highest potential.

Technology Management – Modern technology continually provides for improved tools and methods to aid in workplace endeavors.  Not keeping abreast of technological opportunities displays a potentially inept organization.  As always, new risks might also be inherent along with any new opportunities, technological or otherwise.  Therefore it is important to maintain one’s knowledge base regarding technology that is available to an organization.   

Adam Trotter

Executive Core Qualifications (ECQs): Results Driven

  1. Results Driven: This core qualification involves the ability to achieve organizational goals and customer expectations. Inherent to this ECQ is the ability to make decisions that produce high-quality results by applying technical knowledge, analyzing problems, and calculating risks. Competencies: Accountability, Customer Service, Decisiveness, Entrepreneurship, Problem Solving, Technical Credibility.

August 12th, 2012
For anyone that who might be interested, here was my answer(s).  I wrote this at the end of last May.

Accountability – While extenuating circumstances might often be apparent, one needs to set goals and strive for the attainment of such.  Should errors in judgment arise, all should recognize their mistakes and do their best to remedy any unwanted results.  Errors can often allow for learning opportunities but not if the parties are unaware of the mistakes.  Workplace efforts should be properly delegated and competently completed.  Mistakes should be acknowledged and remedied as part of furthering the knowledge base, if not merely to make things right.  Furthermore, accepted processes and rules require compliance and cavalier and unilateral actions can prove detrimental to proper workplace functions.  Failure to acknowledge mistakes and improper behavior allows for the proliferation of such unwanted behavior.  I am a believer of the ‘buck stops here’ mentality, though I am aware such an attitude may not always be the predominant attitude in the government workplace.  Nevertheless, mistakes inevitably happen. Blame should be irrelevant as should fear of accountability.

Customer Service – Meeting the needs of customers is absolutely necessary to display the value potential of an organization.  The continued inability of an entity to meet customer’s needs displays an entity that is no longer required.  Customer’s needs should be clearly determined through proper communication and negotiations.  Again, mistakes can happen, but output must be continually improved to meet the general norm of value required by the customer.  Every effort undertaken during my career has been customer oriented.  From my ____ Department experience to my entrepreneurial efforts, all my efforts are geared to help the customer better their situation.

Decisiveness – Impact and consequences of decisions must be reviewed to ensure goals are met.  Decisions should be made in accordance with the mission and vision of the organization.  Again, mistakes can occur but such also allows for learning opportunities to do better in the future.  Nevertheless, I do not fear making decisions.  I always strive to make well-informed decisions. 

Entrepreneurship – To maintain the ability to capitalize on new opportunities allows for the legacy and continuation of a worthwhile organization.  Without the ability to properly ascertain risks and benefits while acting in a profitable and timely manner reduces an organization to a relic of by-gone days.  I enjoy making workplace-related decisions particularly when such decisions are in pursuit of new opportunities.

Problem Solving – Efficient problem solving is a talent as well as a practiced art.  Technical competency to properly identify and analyze problems is crucial to the success of an organization in the modern era.  The ability to properly arrive at perceived solutions in light of the predominate variables and with regard to any given situation should be required of all managers in the modern workplace.  I pride myself upon developing processes to yield proper solutions and recommended courses of actions.  I view the problem-solving process as I would any collegiate engineering physical problem:  determine which are the crucial variables and which of these variables is unknown and needs to be determined or controlled. 

Technical Credibility – Technical credibility is a major link in the problem-solving chain.  Obviously, if one has no specialized experience or qualifications relevant to the subject matter, that individual should not be making uninformed decisions on the subject. I believe I have the required technical credibility on a wide range of subjects.  From engineering to economics to dealing with others, I prefer to deal from a position of knowledge and never from a position of ignorance.  

Adam Trotter

Executive Core Qualifications (ECQs): Leading People

  1. Leading People: This core qualification involves the ability to lead people toward achieving the organization's vision, mission, and goals. Inherent to this ECQ is the ability to provide an inclusive workplace that fosters the development of others, facilitates cooperation and teamwork, and supports constructive resolution of conflicts. Competencies: Conflict Management, Leveraging Diversity, Developing Others, Team Building.

August 12th, 2012
For anyone that who might be interested, here was my answer(s).  I wrote this at the end of last May.

Conflict Management – Conflict can often provide for opportunities to learn, to express differences of opinions, and can foster communication between personnel as well.  Moreover, confrontation can often lead to new opportunities which may have been previously unavailable.  However, any instances of mean-spirited confrontation are surely to be avoided, especially in the workplace.  Actually, I tend to thrive on confrontations because such often allow for opportunities for worthwhile change.  Though, I rarely think of any exchanges of opinions as confrontations.  Because, I encourage everyone to say whatever they believe is necessary to be said.  In fact, when aware of any looming confrontations on the horizon, I prefer to initiate the confrontation so that the matter is resolved on my own terms and at a time and place of my choosing. 

Leveraging Diversity – For any successful entity, diversity of team members is a valuable resource.  Having others of different backgrounds allows for greater diversity of thought when resolving difficulties.  Inclusion of differing viewpoints adds to problem-solving endeavors and also allows for a more well-rounded approach to issues.  Nearly every day I encounter someone who may be succumbing to their insecurities which are often a result of being perceived as different by intolerant others.  However, I typically tell those suffering from such self-doubt that their difference should not be a source of shame or ridicule. Any individual’s differences should be viewed as their strength.

Developing Others – I always encourage all to do their best and to concurrently invest in themselves.  In general, education (in the classroom and in the field) and amassing knowledge are among the best investments one can make in oneself.  While careful to not seem condescending or callus, I often provide matter-of-fact feedback and suggestions to whomever such communications might be necessary.  Furthermore, I personally seek to learn something new and worthwhile everyday and I try to instill the same quest for knowledge in others as well.  I believe a positive attitude is contagious and it might as well start with me and be spread to as many others as possible. 

Team Building – Proper team dynamics can often be an elusive goal.  However, leading by example and invoking the strengths of fellow team members inspires others to do the same.  Team spirit helps to foster commitment to the team by its members.  Displaying a ‘win-win’ approach to issues also allows the team to have faith in one another and fosters loyalty and trust among team members which will likely provide for a better outcome of undertakings.  Given the diversity of attitudes and individuals with whom I have worked in the past, I am confident that I can build a productive team. 

Adam Trotter

Executive Core Qualifications (ECQs): Leading Change

  1. Leading Change: This core qualification involves the ability to bring about strategic change, both within and outside the organization, to achieve organizational goals. Inherent in this ECQ is the ability to establish an organizational vision and to implement it in a continuously changing environment. Competencies: Creativity and Innovation, External Awareness, Flexibility, Resilience, Strategic Thinking, Vision.

August 12th, 2012
For anyone that who might be interested, here was my answer(s).  I wrote this at the end of last May.

Creativity and Innovation – While not always outwardly apparent to others, I challenge every undertaking pursued by every stakeholder in any given business endeavor.  My review of business processes and endeavors are always relevant to the organization’s mission and vision.  I always look to tweak processes to allow for greater returns.  However, I do not meddle in affairs merely for the sake of meddling; any interjections are to ensure that all efforts are moving the organization towards its goals.  Efficiency, improvement, and the interests of the Administration and the taxpayers are paramount. I am always interested in suggestions from others – for even if a proposed alternative is not preferred, such challenged efforts help to illuminate the best course to achieve goals in light of the risks – apparent, mitigated, or otherwise.  Moreover, I am not afraid to undertake new approaches and programs so long as efforts are monitored and reviewed for constant reassessment to illuminate the worthwhile business process improvements.  During my efforts at ____, I was often given the non-standard assignments as it seemed that my fellow engineers were often unable to ‘think outside the box’ to develop innovative approaches to problems.  While at ____ and during graduate studies, I have typically been the one to whom others turn to ask for innovative approaches to difficult issues. 

External Awareness – I pride myself upon my ability to maintain a keen awareness of what is occurring in the organization’s internal and external environments.  The strategic approach to developing any feasible solution to difficulties is often revealed through the value chain.  However, if one has no external awareness, they have no idea where value is being added.  Additionally, I believe that I possess a talent to ascertain the baseline truth of any circumstance, regardless of what is being claimed by others.  I am adept at identifying the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats to any business plan.  I stay abreast of local and national issues and always attempt to translate how such happenings affect the workplace effort at hand.  For instance, during the BRAC cost-cutting efforts of the Dept. of ____ in the 1990s, many of my ____ coworkers would often become agitated with the constant state of flux that was the reality of being a government DoD employee at that time.  But such cost-cutting rhetoric never bothered me in the slightest as I knew ____-Philadelphia was safe, as the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard had already been closed and it was very unlikely that another such base closure would be levied against the local economy.    

Flexibility – While it is somewhat natural to be resistant to change, I tend to thrive on opportunities presented by altered circumstances.  So I consider myself excessively flexible on any given front.  While it typically may not be necessary to fix what is not broken, less than satisfactory circumstance nearly always demand change.  So, to be overly resistant to change makes one like a modern dinosaur – doomed to extinction.  Also, unexpected circumstances and demands can make for interesting challenges, but unexpected and adverse conditions can be mitigated with proper planning and adaptability.  Reassessment seems the apropos word, when confronted with unexpected results.  I believe I can productively adapt to any change.  Moreover, I often seek changed environments so that I can reassess my ability to adapt to changes.  To this end and for example, I continually seek to reinvent myself by continuing academic studies in new and challenging disciplines. 

Resilience – When a goal is being pursued, perseverance is the preferred method of choice for this applicant.  I never give up on anything without overwhelming reasons to do so.  While no prima donna, I can identify a losing effort and subsequently implement alternative or contingency plans.  In general I don’t give up or quit anything.  Moreover, I view adversity as merely allowing for new learning opportunities.   To this end, when faced with the challenging economic times during much of the last decade, I sought to increase my knowledge, skills, and abilities by earning an M.B.A and then to enroll in law school.

Strategic Thinking – I formulate plans which are aligned to the vision, mission, and goals of the organization.  Even statements pertaining to vision, mission, and goals themselves are often scrutinized to determine if the proper meaning is being relayed and to see if such is clearly understood or appropriate.  While attempting to best leverage circumstances to provide for beneficial results, one must always beware of any inherent risks.  I believe risks can always be mitigated if properly qualified or quantified.  However while displaying proper restraint, one should always be ready to capitalize on opportunities as well.  I view most efforts undertaken as a variation of a game of chess.  Every initiated move is taken to allow for the envisioned reward to subsequently follow.  But to achieve such a reward, one must typically anticipate countering forces which are ultimately beyond one’s control.  

Vision – A team or organization would find it difficult to meet its goals if the team members did not know or understand the sought-after ends.  Furthermore, an agreed-upon organizational goal can become motivating to others also in pursuit of such ends, assuming the others also subscribe to the same vision.  Ultimately, anything worth having is worth working to obtain.  As such, any actions taken by the members of the organization should be in support of the organization’s vision.  For myself, I typically set goals throughout any given day while also looking at the bigger picture of how my efforts will contribute to the mission and vision of the organization as well as the personal image I seek to put forth.  While this may sound somewhat silly or obvious, if one does not set goals, goals cannot be achieved.

Adam Trotter