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Management Diagnostics, Inc.

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Management Diagnostics, Inc. (MDI), with more than twenty year's experience, helps firms improve their management and organizational effectiveness, efficiency, profitability, and safety performance.

For the past decade, the business climate has been filled with uncertainty about the future and characterized by downsizing. The drastic reduction in personnel has often involved middle managers. Companies are gearing up to meet the challenges of the twenty-first century. The issues of deregulation and competitiveness have placed a great burden on the electric utility industry. The construction of new office complexes, corporate parks, and nuclear power plants has ground to a halt. Each year as many new businesses that are established close their doors.

A substantial number of our nation's businesses are marginal enterprises yielding meager profits year after year. Many of them barely break even, and even minor errors in management judgment can push these firms into the red. Profit margins for most enterprises fluctuate between 2 percent and 4 percent of net sales. Many firms do much worse.

MDI recognizes that the two top challenges to most businesses are: 1) how to increase sales, and 2) how to hold down and reduce operating costs. To be successful and survive, management must be able to resolve these challenges in tandem. Unfortunately, when an enterprise does well financially its management lacks the motivation to assess its status during that profitable period. Business executives frequently wait until troubled times or a crisis before seeking outside help to determine company strengths and opportunities for improvement. Whenever this happens, businesses may find themselves paying exorbitant amounts of money for improvements when they least can afford it.

MDI recommends that businesses be pro-active and preventive in their business planning strategy. We help business leaders resolve human performance problems, and become stronger and more productive. Our improvements and change management strategies lead to higher end-of- year profits. We assemble teams of our highly experienced associates to meet specific company needs, and to get measurable results for our clients in the shortest possible time.

MDI helps its clients by evaluating and making recommendations to improve the efficiency, effectiveness, and profitability of their operations. When desired, we also help correct deficiencies and verify the results.

In some cases a client doesnít possess the essential internal skills to conduct an operational review or management audit or it prefers the objectivity of an independent, external firm. Our services are designed to assess performance, identify opportunities for improvement, and develop recommendations for corrective action. More specifically, the scope of our management audits include: identifying problem areas, causes, and alternatives for improvement; locating opportunities for eliminating waste and inefficiency for cost reduction; income improvement; identifying undefined organizational goals, objectives, policies, and procedures; evaluating the organizational and safety culture; identifying criteria for measuring the achievement of organizational goals and objectives; recommending improvements in policies, procedures, and the organizational structure; providing checks on performance of individuals and organizational units; determining the existence of unauthorized, fraudulent, or otherwise irregular acts; reviewing regulatory compliance against legal requirements and organizational goals, objectives, policies, and procedures; assessing management information systems; identifying potential future trouble spots; identifying ways to improve communication in all directions, particularly in cross-functional situations; identifying specific safety problems; and providing an independent, objective evaluation of operations. MDI also conducts prudence reviews for the regulators of electric utilities.

MDI also works with its clients in resolving human performance and related organizational and management issues with the goal of achieving change through results in the shortest possible time. We focus primarily on human performance as it relates to planning, organizing, scheduling, staffing, directing, and controlling work.

MDI has developed specific measures for these characteristics. They can be used to determine the extent to which each characteristic has been instilled in the behaviors of plant personnel. This is done through the conduct of: interviews; surveys; review of documentation, and work observation.

An orientation to safety first, quality second, and production third, always in that order; cost containment program which emphasizes nuclear safety over production and cost; evidence of conservative decision making by management and defense in depth.

Individuals maintain a questioning attitude; expect the unexpected; good planning evident for contingencies or emergencies.  Design and licensing bases maintained according to the operating license; sound configuration management and control program.  Procedures upgraded in a timely manner and followed.  Management recognizes or rewards the required and appropriate behaviors or performance of individuals and groups.  Sound program for problem identification through resolution, and root cause determination resulting in an effective corrective action process.  Individuals identify, report to management and accept ownership for problems; problems are "killed dead"; few, if any, repetitive problems.  Sound oversight of nuclear operations, primarily in the areas of QA/QC, but also by the various internal and external oversight entities.  No willingness to live with problems evident as indicated by large task backlogs (both Maintenance and Engineering) and excessive "work arounds"; no problems of a long standing nature.  Attention to detail regarding promised improvement programs and commitments made to the regulator.  Total quality practiced with excellence in operations and continuous improvement evident.  Effective employee concerns program with management commitment evident; open problem solving culture evident; no "kill the messenger" mentality.  Effective and efficient work control programs, primarily in their utilization by operations, maintenance and engineering.  No hidden culture or leadership saying one thing and doing another.  Long-term, solid solutions to problems over short-term, quick fixes.  Consistency in communicating the appropriate management philosophy for the business until it is understood at all levels in the organization.  Decisions based upon facts, not half truths or rumors.  Emphasis on individual accountability.  Emphasis on direct management involvement, management by walking around, and supervision and coaching with routine feedback provided to individuals on their performance.  Attention to people concerns and human relations issues; timely conflict resolution.  Emphasis on team work or working together.  Job security and reward based upon performance and results.  Emphasis on smart work over busy work.  Emphasis on participatory management.  Pro-active over reactive response mode on problem resolution; little or no evidence of crisis management and being externally driven.  Open, honest, and cooperative working relationship with regulators.  Emphasis on individual accountability with the authority to match responsibility.  Work simplification or process improvement over needless complication and duplication.  Organization stability; carefully planned and sequenced change to minimize disruptions to people.  Risk taking, not risk avoidance, but accepting responsibility and never proceeding in the face of uncertainty.  Emphasis on improving communications in all directions, and controlling rumors and misinformation.  Highly skilled management team with varied nuclear plant operating experience.  Clear mission, vision, values, standards or expectations communicated and understood, and translated into action plants down to the worker level.  People are generally happy and there is evidence of good morale.  Emphasis is on career planning and developing the skills of people.  Turnover is low.  High performance standards are evident.  Office politics are discouraged and kept to a minimum.  Individuals are not "burned out" from excessive overtime. Sound self-assessment program evident. There is a healthy level of tension or stress. There is little, if any, evidence of a "we or they" attitude between employees and their leaders. There are recognized heroes, leaders or role models who lead by example. No evidence of excessive arrogance or complacency.

Nuclear Safety Culture Assessment

The culture of most organizations consists of the shared perceptions, traditions, values, practices, goals, and socialization processes of an organizationís dominant group or membership. The cultural attributes of the dominant group in an organization are what we perceive to be its overall personality or culture.

The dominant-group perception of an organizationsí personality or culture is adequate for most organizations but not for nuclear power plants and not for other safety conscious industries. Since a single person can greatly influence the safety level achieved at a nuclear power plant, it is important to include each and every individual in our concept of culture. This 100 percent cultural inclusion standard is what makes nuclear safety culture so difficult to understand and to achieve.

The nuclear plant organizational culture forms over the years, and the nature of that culture becomes part of its reputation. The culture, and, thus, reputation can also change with each change in personnel and each change in plant management policy. It reflects the management philosophy, style, attitudes, decision making, and business strategy.

When considering a plantís nuclear safety culture, the culture and plant reputation also reflect each individual workerís reactions to management. Thus, it is important to realize each nuclear plant manager and worker constantly impacts the culture, the impacted culture becomes the plant reputation, and the plant reputation either leads to more or less regulation, which will then impact the business strategy. The "top-down" approach to nuclear plant management simply does not have the power to ensure each manager and worker has the right nuclear safety culture impacts.

Thus, under traditional management, each individual has the power to cause a plant to become a nonviable business or, at least, inefficient and largely dysfunctional. An organizationís culture becomes of highest concern when it cause the organization to be dysfunctional relative to its basic mission. Changes are needed, and additional concurrent changes may be required when markets and competition change. Also, an additional set of upgrades or changes may be needed to improve regulatory compliance, services, and the quality of service, over and above culture-related changes.

While many people support the cultural notion of worker importance and are willing to listen to calls to use bottom-up management to achieve excellence, implementation is difficult. Each individual must be respected and empowered, concepts directly contrary to traditional top-down management thinking. We understand the importance of bottom-up management, but we continue to try to motivate workers and create excellence using he easier top-down methods.

At a nuclear plant, the cultural attributes or characteristics and requirements for the construction phase are different from those in the plant testing, startup, and long-term operational phases. If the appropriate cultural transformation doesnít occur between phases, the organization can become dysfunctional. The operating phase requires a different management or leadership style.

Some organizations have a "hidden" culture. In such a culture, the leadership may state one thing in plant procedures and documentation, but managers or employees practice something totally different in reality. It is the responsibility of the CEO and Board of Directors to establish, monitor, and change the culture of the organization, including any undesirable "hidden" culture that may be present.

Safety culture represents the degree to which people in an organization take responsibility for their actions and the consequences of them on safety, A good safety culture means a worker environment where a good safety ethic permeates the organization from top to bottom and peoplesí behavior focuses on accident prevention through critical self-assessment, pro-active identification of management and technical problems, and effective problem resolution before they become crises. The basic root causes of safety problems, particularly at nuclear plants, have often be tracked back to inappropriate decisions by management.

The culture of an organization is critical to its success and survival. To grow and be successful, many organizations have had to change their culture. What worked in the past no longer does.

MDI helps clients by determining: the threats, strengths and weaknesses (opportunities for improvement) of their existing culture. We answer these important questions:

What kind of organizational culture do you currently have?

What kind of organizational culture do you need or want?

What specific actions must be taken in all functional areas in order to change your organizational and safety culture from what it is to what you want or need it to be?

What is the evaluation strategy for determining your progress in making the desired cultural changes?

We also help clients make organizational and nuclear safety culture improvements through mentoringÖ teaching and coaching members of the management team. This mentoring includes a wide range of important topics such as: promoting effective communications, identifying and overcoming obstacles to plant profitability (expediting),
motivating personal excellence, handling regulatory interface, accountability, accepting ownership of problems, paying attention to detail, professionalism, conservative decision making, questioning attitude, delegation of work, work control and feedback, and reward systems.

MDI will do an audit to record all of the factors that make up your companyís culture, and then prepare a culture management plan to get you from where you are to where you want to be in the shortest time possible.

 

 

Management Diagnostics, Inc. 
P.O. Box 240,  Port Royal, PA 17082-0240

Tel: 717-527-4399 Fax: 717-527-4398