A Way Ahead – Local Farmers Market Controversies

 A Better Way to Deal with the Bloomington Farmers Market Controversy

By Timothy (Tim) J. Clark

Updated Oct 8, 2019.

The effects of the controversy involving the Bloomington Farmers Market (BFM) identify an opportunity to take a fresh look at the methods and strategies for how the community addresses challenging issues.

The methods applied so far to address the BFM situation have resulted in a reduction in market attendance from 40,000 to 16,000. They have also resulted in unflattering local and national attention, which attracted the interest of what is perceived to be far-right and far-left groups. These groups’ involvement contributed to the perceived need to shut down the market for two weeks. This shutdown had an adverse economic impact on almost all the vendors.

To help prevent actions that can lead to violence within a community, the Department of Homeland Security proposes applying a whole-of-society approach that would have to be supported at the local level of government.

The controversy does not appear to be ending anytime soon, so a better process is needed to resolve the BFM issue as well as any other problems that arise in the future. The development of an enhanced capability for problem resolution and decision making will have practical benefits within the community, Indiana, and the nation.

Inspiration for this better problem-solving approach can be found in the U.S. Constitution. The U.S. system of government is designed to enable “We the People” to continually work together toward the ideal of “a more perfect Union.”   Working toward “a more perfect Union” requires continually improving the strategies and methods that will result in achieving outcomes where everyone benefits or at least is not any worse off in the long-term. This requires addressing a few questions, including:

  1. As a community, how do “We the People” describe and define “more perfect” — that is, what is the ideal?
  2. What feedback will need to be collected to assess progress in working toward the ideal in the near-, mid-, and long-term?
  3. What methods will be applied to assess whether the changes made to the system are resulting in improvement?

Indiana University (IU) could prove to be an important resource when addressing the first question, as it has gone through the process of defining its ideal. IU’s strategic plan identifies its ideal as being “one of the great research universities of the twenty-first century.” This vision includes “Engaging in the economic, social, civic, and cultural development of Indiana, the nation, and the world by building on the base of excellence in research and education.”

IU could also be a good resource when answering the second question. Its research strategy could be reviewed and assessed to get an idea of the types of feedback that could be collected and where to get it. This feedback would need to include qualitative and quantitative data.

Finally, Walter A. Shewhart and W. Edwards Deming have developed methods that should be used to determine whether changes are resulting in improvement for everyone. Shewhart developed methods that can be used to close the gap between the actual situation and the ideal. These improvement methods have been integrated within the International Organization for Standardization standards.

Deming developed a philosophy that supports Shewhart’s methods. Deming estimated in 1986 that it would be another 50 years (2036) until the new philosophy and methods were more commonly acknowledged in liberal education, science, and industry.

Reducing the gap between the current situation and the ideal requires the continual application of better methods for making changes that “We the People” will conclude result in systemic improvements. The controversy with the BFM provides an opportunity to experiment with the new philosophy and methods.

U.S. Grand Strategy – China

June 17, 2019, The National Interest,  America Must Prepare for the Coming Chinese Empire
Excerpts and comments from readers
Grand strategy is not about what we should do abroad. It is about what we should do abroad consistent with our economic and social condition at home.

Power is not only economic and military: it is moral. And I don’t mean humanitarian, as necessary as humanitarianism is for the American brand. But in this case, I mean something harder: the fidelity of our word in the minds of allies. And that predictability is gone.”

Unable to look ourselves in the mirror and see our flaws and limitations, we concentrated too much on our military, and invaded or intervened in one Muslim country after another in the 2000s and achieved nothing as a result.

Thus, the competition between the United States and China will coincide with a political-cultural crisis of the West against a resurgent East.

Yet, even at our worst, our political system is open and capable of change in the way that China, and that other great autocratic power, Russia, are not. A world in which the United States is the dominant power will be a more humane world of more personal freedoms than a world led by China.

In the end the competition between China and America, as it was between the US and USSR, is a competition between ideas and values. China cannot take America’s place because no matter how much material prosperity it brings, people will not value authoritarianism and oppression once they have enough materially. Hong Kong and Taiwan are models of the future not Beijing.

A divided America is in danger of collapse, cheered on by China. But a united America, confident in its values and strengths will certainly outlast and contain the Chinese dreams of empire, just as it did the Soviet one.

 

All criticisms of America aside (and, yes, there are plenty) it is ABSOLUTELY superior to China in one vital way. American democracy, for all its flaws, is better than ANY form of authoritarian rule. Chinese communism (or whatever China wants to call it) involves stripping the Chinese people of their basic human rights, their culture, and their individualism. WHY would China’s neighbors “trust” China when they can’t even govern according to the will of their own people?

In the end, we have two major schools of thought vying for the leading role in the world. One is a heavily-flawed democracy, and the other is an oppressive regime.

The next battle front is economic, and China is doing its best to prepare. However, China still has far too much dependency on US manufacturing to survive that battle. The longer China delays the battle, the better for China. Unfortunately for China, the US has fired the warning shot with the tariff “war”, and China is ill-prepared for the battle right now.

If China tries to fight the economic war today, it has already lost. If they agree to the primary concessions requested by the US , without giving up too much, they will live to fight another day. With another 10-15 years of expansion, China may be able to win the economic war.

The Chinese people deserve a better form of government. The American people deserve a better government. The difference is that America’s government is a flawed version of the better form of governance. China’s government is an efficient version of a flawed form of governance. Flawed democracy is better than perfect Communism every time.

 

 

“In No Uncertain Terms”

ASQ Quality Progress, May 2019 article: In No Uncertain Terms

Key Point: “When thinking about the terms “continual” and “continuous,” you could easily argue that a relative difference exists, as evidenced by the terms’ various definitions in Table 1. The main difference between the terms is time—in the definitions of “continual,” there are breaks in time. In the definitions of “continuous,” however, there aren’t.”

W. Edwards Deming is recognized as developing the new philosophy for quality management. The distinction between continual and continuous identified above aligns with his philosophy. Deming concluded that if he was to reduce his message to just a few words, it all has to do with reducing variation.

At an individual level, improvement is continual.  At a group or system level, the improvement must be continuous because quality either gets better or it gets worse.

The article also references ASQs definition of CQI, as stated by authors Jeffrey K. Liker and James K. Franz that included the statement: “In reality, continuous improvement is a vision, a dream, and no company in real life can possibly always get better.”  I disagree with this contention. The statement as to the impossibility of improvement supports the need for a broader philosophical context that is provided in ASQ’s description of variation:  What is Variation? – The Law of Variation | ASQ

” … The Law of Variation is defined as the difference between an ideal and an actual situation. ..

An ideal situation represents a standard of perfection—or the highest standard of excellence defined by stakeholders, including direct customers, internal customers, suppliers, society, and shareholders. 

Though manufacturing groups and service providers strive for an ideal situation, they usually do not achieve this goal. Therefore, stakeholders almost always experience some variation from the perfect situations they envision. Reducing the variation stakeholders experience is the key to quality and continuous improvement.

A more common understanding of variation would provide a needed context for understanding the important distinction between continual and continuous.

In regards to travel, I commute to work via an automobile.  I want a transportation system that is safe, affordable, economical, does not harm the environment and is continuously being improved.

On an individual level, a continual improvement would include car maintenance and complying with traffic laws. Continuous improvement of the system (24×7, 365 days a year) requires the involvement of many people.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On Point: China’s Communist Dictatorship Targets American Creativity

Source: RealClearPolitics.com

On Point: China’s Communist Dictatorship Targets American Creativity

  • The Houston Chronicle said on the macroeconomic cost: “After a 2017 report that found intellectual-property theft by China costs the U.S. as much as $600 billion annually
  • FBI Director Christopher Wray called China ‘the broadest, most significant’ threat to the nation and said its espionage is active in all 50 states.”

 

 

 

CRISPR and WMD

May 2, 2019.  The search for the kryptonite that can stop CRISPR

Earlier in 2016, the US intelligence agencies had designated gene editing as a potential weapon of mass destruction. That September, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) had jumped in, putting out a call for new ways to control or reverse the effects of gene-editing technology. The program, called Safe Genes, would end up with a budget of more than $65 million, making it one of the largest sources of cash for CRISPR research, aside from biotech startups developing new genetic treatments.

 

 

 

U.S. National Quality Strategy – Notes

The elements of national power include Diplomatic, Informational, Military, and Economic (DIME).

We have a national security strategywe do not have a nonpartisan National Quality Strategy (NQS) that is needed to optimize all elements of national power.  The annual State of the Union address could include an assessment that has evolved as a partisan concept and is perceived as such.

National Quality Strategy  It’s all about reducing variation from the ideal.

Assessments … A Start

The U.S. lacks a shared method and understanding for assessing the performance of our systems and determining when a change results in an improvement.  The aim for the U.S. political system is for “We the People” to form “a more perfect Union” through improvements in policies, laws, and regulations.

Systems determine results.  Improvement requires an assessment of the system.  Within communities, industries and organizations, the Baldrige Framework for Performance Excellence is a proven and systemic approach for improvement.  Criteria exist for profits and non-profit organizations, health care, education, and communities.  The estimated return on investment from the Baldrige Program on the U.S. Economy has been estimated at 820 to 1.

  • How can the criteria be applied to assess the performance of the U.S. political system?

 

Improving the Economic System

U.S. National Security Strategy.

U.S. National Defense Strategy. Oct 2018.  The National Defense Strategy (or NDS) is produced by the United States Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD) and is signed by the United States Secretary of Defense as the United States Department of Defense’s (DoD) capstone strategic guidance.

U.S. National Military Strategy 2015 The National Military Strategy is issued by the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff as a deliverable to the Secretary of Defense briefly outlining the strategic aims of the armed services. The NMS’s chief source of guidance is the National Security Strategy document.

 

 

 

 

 

Support for the Baldrige Framework – National Quality Strategy

I was an early advocate for the Baldrige Framework for Performance Excellence.   The criteria introduced in 1987 and the first Award was issued in 1988.

The Baldrige Framework would be an integral component of a citizen-owned National Quality Strategy (NQS).  Another critical component would be a shared understanding and knowledge of the variation principle developed by Walter Shewhart and W. Edwards Deming.  Their concept is supported by the American Society for Quality – Law of Variation.

As a guest columnist for FedSmith.com, I wrote several articles that supported the application of the Baldrige framework.  My last column on the topic was referenced in a Blogrige Post titled:  Would the Founding Fathers Have Embraced Baldrige?

Successful application of the criteria has shown that it produces significant, quantifiable, and measured return on investment.  “Those returns are measured in greater efficiency, less waste, more jobs created, increased customer and employee satisfaction, and economic growth. Studies in health care and education have demonstrated that Baldrige-based organizations significantly outperform their non-Baldrige peer organizations in virtually all critical measurements.”

A system determines the majority of results and Baldrige represents a systems approach to improvement.

1990.  Xerox was a Baldrige winner in 1989 and was invited to my agency – the U.S. Army Finance and Accounting Center (USAFAC) to educate us on the criteria.  The intent of the invite was to generate ideas to support our Total Quality Mangement (TQM) initiative.

  • The U.S. Army’s Installation Management Command adopted the criteria to support continuous improvement in installation management. Army installations are the equivalent of small towns.  The program is referred to as the Army Communities of Excellence.

The American Society for Quality provides administrative support for the program. I became an ASQ member in 1991, joined the Public Sector Network (PSN) and served as a regional counselor.  PSN became the Government Division and the Division supported the development of criteria for the Nonprofit (government) category.

1991-1999.   I served in USAFACs/DFAS TQM Office. My instructor notes for the agency’s TQM related courses provided the foundation for my book – Success Through Quality: Support Guide for the Journey to Continuous Improvement that was published by ASQ in 1999 that includes reference to the Baldrige criteria (pg. 64).

  • The first book review – Government Executive Magazine: “DoD accountant offers quality guide.”“It should come as little surprise that such a clear voice on quality calls out from the federal bureaucracy. Clark follows in the steps of W. Edwards Deming, the world-renowned quality theorist who helped the Japanese become a world-class industrial power in the second half of this century. Deming began his career as a physicist at the Agriculture Department.”

2001/2002.  USAFAC was reorganized and consolidated into the Defense Finance and Accounting Service in 1991. The agency chose to test an independent Baldrige assessment of current operations at one of the best performing locations.  The assessment scored under 250 points out of a 1,000 which is typical for a traditionally managed organization. The feedback from the assessment was highly valued by the site director but the agency director determined the agency was not ready to embrace the framework.

2011-2016.  Guest columnist for FedSmith.com —  I wrote several articles that supported the application of the Baldrige framework – my last article references in a Blogrige Post:  Would the Founding Fathers Have Embraced Baldrige?  Articles at FedSmith.com:

2014-Present. I continue to promote the application of the criteria at the community level.