[nfbmi-talk] Fw: Random thoughts...

joe harcz Comcast joeharcz at comcast.net
Sun Feb 12 23:33:38 CST 2012

This is a direct admission to a simple fact and that is this:

 It is a direct admission by at top administrator of the Michigan Commission for the Blind that he has not communicated effectively in accordance with Title II of the ADA or 504 for that matter which he has also violated for decades.

Moreover, it is a tacit and explicit admission that this goofball paid in excess of thousands  per year has violated our, bthe blind people of this state's collective civilrights.

Where in the world do scofflaws like this get off with admitting such egregetious civil rights violations except here?

The fool should be fired for cause shouldn't he?

----- Original Message ----- 
From: Robertson, Bob (LARA) 
Sent: Thursday, October 20, 2011 12:58 PM
Subject: Random thoughts...

For those of you who might recall, one of the principles of the 2020 process within MCB was that of Appreciative Inquiry (AI). More traditional change management philosophy requires that people look at a problem, analyze it, and then try to find a solution. The old-time focus is on that which is broken or not working as well as it should. By focusing on the problem areas, we naturally amplify them to the point where negativity takes over everywhere. At the other end of the spectrum, AI says we should look at what works in the organization. It says we should look at those things we do well and agree upon and then build from there. 

There are several "assumptions" that go with Appreciative Inquiry. I will not go into all of them but some of the key ones are:

1.       In every group or organization, something works.

2.       What we focus on becomes our reality.

3.       If we are going to carry parts of the past forward, they must be what is best from the past.

With this in mind, I wish to address two issues which seem to be "hot button" topics. One is materials in accessible format and the other is staff returning phone calls. Now, before I go any further, I want to make it clear that the information posted here is mine. I have not consulted anyone. I have not cleared this with anyone. I may catch hell for these remarks from my co-workers as well as others on this list. Regardless, I wish to point out what I see as an exaggeration of facts.

Some members of the community have been quoted saying we do not provide materials in accessible format. Some like to quote from a satisfaction survey done in November 2008 where consumers were asked if materials were provided in their preferred format. Of the 78 people who responded to the survey, 6 said never. (That is usually where the quoting of the survey ends.) In addition, 13 said sometimes and 59 said always. I think we can all agree that 6 is too many yet when the main thrust for an argument that the agency never provides materials in accessible format is 8% of the respondents on a single survey, that's a bit of exaggeration. Is it acceptable to look at that number and say it needs to be improved? Absolutely! However, when making the argument for improvement in this area, maybe we should focus on the 76% who say they always get the materials in their preferred format, learn what is working, and try to replicate that across the entire agency.

The second issue is returning phone calls. Clearly this is a concern because it seems to come up from time to time in different settings. I would argue that citing a handful of random comments off a survey or quoting a couple people from a public meeting is hardly evidence of widespread negligence. Are there situations where staff do not call back in a timely manner? More than likely. Are there a thousand and one possible reasons (not excuses) for this? Probably, sometimes. Nevertheless, it is a management issue that needs to be addressed by agency management and nobody else.

There are other areas we could discuss. I just happen to pick these two because they have been the focus of recent activity on this list and elsewhere. I bring them up because if we were to use Appreciative Inquiry principles, instead of focusing on the 8% who state they never receive materials in their preferred format, we'd focus on the 76% who said they always did and say something like "hey, we're doing an okay job but we can do better.how do we improve it?" 

Let me just end these ramblings with another thought. In major league baseball, if a batter is successful 30% of his career, he's a shoe-in for the Hall of Fame. Yet, if you're running an airline and have 1000 planes take off and only 999 of them land safely, that's a major disaster. I say this because we need to put things in perspective. It would be great if every single phone call was returned immediately and every single client got materials in the preferred format 100% of the time. Unfortunately, we do not have a magical wand to create a perfect workplace. However, we do have a staff made up of over 100 dedicated, hard-working, caring professionals and sometimes those professionals (even me, believe it or not!) aren't perfect. So instead of creating an atmosphere of distrust and disrespect, let's focus on the things that are being done right and work hard to make them even better.

Bob Robertson

MI Commission for the Blind

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