Sunday, October 31, 2010

National Guard

I was recently asked my position about our National Guard troops.
This is part of my answer.
The National Guard have a hugely important role in protecting our freedoms. During the past 2 years, I have worked as a consultant in DC, helping them the Department of Defense improve their efficiencies and effectiveness. The one message I hear repeatedly is that no one is sure how to define success in Afghanistan or Iraq. Subsequently, our fathers, uncles, brothers, and sons are dying without understanding what victory looks like.

Additionally, believe it or not we have 1.4 million active duty military personal of those, 560,000 (40%) have never been deployed to battle. Interestingly, I have many National Guard friends, who are not full time active soldiers, who have been deployed more than twice. Its my opinion, our guard forces have done enough especially considering that 560,000 (40%) have never been deployed. Its time to bring our heroes home.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Challenges for Change

I was recently asked about my opinion on Challenges for Change and its affect on the school systems. First, The Challenges for Change Bill specifies the broad areas from which savings must come and identifies those outcomes which agencies and programs must achieve. The Bill states the following about the bill itself;

Not Traditional Cost-Cutting

Although the initial impetus for the Challenges was a need for constructive ways to address part of our anticipated $154 million fiscal year 2011 budget gap, this is not a traditional cost-cutting exercise. In cutting, one starts with the way we do things today and asks: How can we reduce the cost? There is usually no consideration of the outcomes involved. The focus is on trimming inputs, e.g., the number of people involved, office equipment, travel, or other such expenses.

By contrast, this reform package starts with the desired outcomes and the amount of money Vermont can afford to spend and then asks: If we rethink how we do things, how could we improve our outcomes with this amount of money?”

In a nutshell, the bill actually demands school districts to achieve draconian cost savings targets without the support and coaching about how to achieve the cost savings.

Hence, this bill is one big boon dongle. First boon dongle mistake, the state didn’t help the school districts to define standard outcomes or how to accurately and precisely measure the outcomes. Subsequently, each school district probably had to struggle to define their own outcome measures. Not to be disparaging but, let’s be honesty here people, how many of our school board members are skilled and experienced at creating and defining “outcome” measures? That’s not what board members are typically elected to do. The odds are that most school districts have uniquely identified and unique measures for each outcome, if they have them at all.

Second boon dongle mistake (in a long list of many), the state didn’t provide the districts with the assistance or coaching about how to identify cost savings opportunities. Therefore, many school districts, using the state’s wonderful example, assumes that they have to lay off teachers and cancel programs. However, there are literally thousands of ways to cut costs besides having to lay off teachers, cancel programs, and etcetera but once again, not to be disparaging, how many of our school board members are skilled and experienced at identifying and cutting costs?

If the state is so hell bent on forcing the local school districts to cut their education costs, to compensate for the state’s inability to manage their own costs, they should minimally provide the school with standardized defined outcomes and the outcomes measures. Also, the state should provide the school districts with coaching on how to analyze, identify, and achieve cost savings without compromising that stated outcome measures. Or, at least that is what I would have done.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Dan Feliciano for Governor of Vermont

As election day nears, Vermonters, you and I, need to decide who they will vote for as their next Governor.
However, before doing so, you should reflect on the past ten years. Are you more financially secure? Do you have more career options? Are you children’s education getting better? Are your children safer? Is your healthcare better? Are your parents safer and healthier?

If you can honestly answer yes to each question, go ahead vote for one of the two leading career candidates. However, if the answer to any question is, “No!” Its time to vote for a change. Time to vote for someone with a different perspective. Someone, who like you, answered, no, to most of the questions listed above.
I, like you, am frustrated paying higher taxes as each year passes. I, like you, am gravely concerned about my children's eduction. I, like you, am worried about the financial impact of skyrocketing costs of healthcare. I, like you, am worried about my parents ability to live on their current retirement incomes. Its time to vote for me, Dan Feliciano. I’m not a Republican. I’m not a Democrat. I’m a Vermonter.

Now for the good news, over the years as a Strategy & Change consultant and Lean Six Sigma Master Black Belt, I've developed a deep expertise in helping struggling organizations private and public sector (some much larger than our lovely state), decrease their costs, improve their productivity, improve their customer satisfaction and significantly increase their revenue. I know I can do the same for the Green Mountain state.

No more crazy “cost savings” antics like Challenge for Change. Where local school districts were given draconian cost savings targets without the support and coaching about how to achieve the cost savings without having to let go of teachers or compromising educational standards.

My primary goals and laser like focus as Governor will be on doing what I do best.
  • Cutting spending and improving productivity
  • Retaining and growing business
  • Developing a cost conscience culture
  • Cutting taxes
  • Equal rights and equal freedom for all Vermonters, all Vermonters

As Governor of Vermont, I can immediately set the wheels in motion on these goals. I will not only provide the leadership and motivation to accomplish the goals I set forth, but I also have the expertise and experience to coach and mentor our state employees through this transformation process.
More specifically, I will;
  1. Cut spending and waste while improving productivity – No, this doesn’t necessarily mean laying off more state employees. There are thousands of other ways to cut costs without laying off people. However, before we can cut taxes, we need to get our cost structure under control.
    1. We will reduce the cost of government including in healthcare and costly services. I’ve worked in Healthcare, specifically for the Medical College of Virginia, CIGNA Healthcare, AETNA Healthcare and & GE Healtcare. I know how healthcare operates and I know we can drive down these costs.
    2. We will improve the productivity of our State’s services so we can handle the expected growth in jobs and businesses without adding costs or additional employees. Doing so, will enable us to cut taxes in the near future without creating a nearer-term state deficit.
    3. Also, I will dehassel government! No more going to DMV and being treated like a buffoon. We will simplify our state operates.
    4. We will identify and remove nonsensical barriers that the state has imposed on businesses that limit entrepreneurship and businesses growth.
    5. However, we WILL not compromise our environment to do so nor will we compromise our spectacular quality of life.
  2. Retain and grow our businesses by creating an infrastructure that enables businesses to grow and thrive –
    1. We will use our existing state resources, including the Department of Economic Development, to provide or subsidize training for Vermont businesses, especially the small businesses. The businesses will can expect to receive training that will enable them to grow and thrive in financial management (especially cash flow & cost management), strategy creation, and operations management (improving quality and productivity).
    2. And of course, they can expect a tax relief as direct result of our cost savings plan.
  3. Develop a cost-conscious culture –
    1. Immediately, all managers who manage a budget will be taught how to use data to develop realistic budgets, manage their budgets with an emphasis on identifying productivity improvements that will reduce costs, improve the quality and delivery speed of their operations. The managers will be held accountable for driving down the costs of their services WHILE improving their services quality, timeliness and customer satisfaction. Every state agency will have publicly monitored measurable goals that include doing their jobs better, faster, cheaper & greener.
  4. Cut Taxes -
    1. After we understand the true costs of running the state, right sized the budget, and decreased costs, we will cut taxes without compromising our quality of life, our financial position, our education system or our environment.
  5. Equal rights and equal freedom for all Vermonters, all Vermonters
    1. All Vermonters will have the right to marry!

Before you cast your hugely important vote on Tuesday, November 2, 2010, reflect upon the past ten years. Are you more financially secure? Do you have more career options? Are your children getting a better education? Is your healthcare better? Are your parents safer?
If you are significantly better off than you were ten years ago, cast your vote for one of the two leading candidates. However, if your not better off today than you were 10 years ago, if your future doesn’t look brighter, then vote for me, Dan Feliciano, Independent candidate for Governor of Vermont.

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

After debate comments

Some people at the debate were surprised by comments that most strategies are poorly executed and unsustainable. Others couldn't understand my maniacal focus on cost reduction and execution. Our problems stem from spending. Spending drives the need for taxes. High taxes stifle economic growth.
"If we don't control the State's spending, the State's spending will Control us."

I can't immediately cut taxes and "hope" that businesses will in turn hire employees and crank up production. Also, by cutting taxes and holding all else constant, increases the nearer term deficit. A better option is to provide business coaching and mentoring to businesses to improve their longer term probability of success and growth.