Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Donald Trump's no-good, miserable, non-existent management skills

If Donald Trump really did graduate from Wharton he might have slept his way through it.
Plan, delegate and organize have been the watchwords of the American Management Association for a very long time, predating Trump's post-secondary education. But there is more because the White House should be a paragon of quality-management particularly when the care of children is at issue.

Quality is achieved by making people accountable to process where each process is the smallest element of every part of the plan. A good leader accomplishes this by asking questions which incoude some metric to evaluate performance. Everything has to be written down to form a manual.

It is indisputable that we have created an enormous mess because we incarcerated children without a fully articulated plan for how we were going to do it, for how long and how we would reunite families. Adding to my concerns is the fact that White House Chief of Staff John F. Kelly is a retired Marine Corps four-star general. He knows this stuff yet, apparently when his skills and experience were most needed, he was sidelined.

I am not trying to solve the problems. I cannot. The following are just a very small number of the many questions that had to be asked:

How, for example, was each kid to be identified? Some are very young and most do not speak English. I would have placed a wrist band on each child with name and other identifying information including a unique number. I would have given the parent or parents some sort of receipt. At the end of each day, can we match the number of kids we have in custody with the number of wrist bands issued?

I would have also addressed the possibility that a child's wrist band was somehow lost. I don't know how that could happen which means that it probably would happen.

When were children supposed to be released and what was the expected times of detention? Would families be reunited upon deportation or was there another milestone? I do not think they have an answer. I would have worked out a system to reunite families at deportation (if that occurred) so that the entire family would make the trip back to their own country together. What happens if a parent or parents are granted temporary asylum?

Who is going to care for these kids and where? What must we communicate to the embassies or consulates of their home countries?

Do we have a written standard for how they will be housed down to the smallest detail? Things like minimum calorie intake per day by age, bed sizes, minimum amount of outdoor recreation per day, breakdown of calories by protein, fat and carbohydrates, qualifications of staff, medical personnel required and so on. What educational responsibilities will we assume while kids are in custody?

There is obviously much more to this and it required a separate work group. It concludes with someone like Kelly or Trump asking: How will we measure compliance and how often will we do so? In other words a system of inspection.

I do not have all of the questions. Not by a long shot because I do not have enough information to formulate the questions but surely a team of government managers could come up with a meaningful list. Otherwise, what the hell are we paying them for? Just in passing I suspect that Betsy DeVos could not manage her way though a visit to the bathroom.

The bottom line is that we did not give much thought to the welfare of these kids. We were so busy trying to punish brown people that the kids became irrelevant. What is glaringly obvious is that no one is in charge.

Trump has no interest in details and no curiosity to figure out how things work. Nor is he capable of expressing his expectations of those to whom parts of the process are delegated. We cannot even assume that there was a clear understanding of who was responsible for what and when.

Barack Obama was very different. He was a thoughtful and analytical president who used a Socratic approach to every problem. This ensured that managers had a “buy-in” and were willing and able to assume responsibilities. The way we treated these kids demonstrates our indecency and it is unforgivable. It never would have happened with Obama.

Trump has demonstrated that he has the management skills of the leader of a small Bedouin camel caravan. I am referring to the camel, not a human being. Another couple of years with this psychopath and America will be unrecognizable.

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