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Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Bain's Blow to Berkeley

Nothing kills performance like distress.  The same goes for fear, anger, powerlessness, injustice, and a sense of having been screwed over by ignoramuses. The remarkable conversation going on via the recent comments on this blog suggest that the Bain-Berkeley analysis for UCB’s Operation Excellence has dug Berkeley into a deeper operational hole than it was already in.

Why is this report so disturbing? Is there anything in it that might make Berkeley administration better?  The answer to the second question is yes, but the report rests on several foundational errors. These are serious enough to suggest that implementation of the report as it is will impose an outdated, centralized organizational model that will in turn undermine Berkeley’s key strengths as a university.

This post describes the report’s analysis, and shows that its solutions do not fit with this analysis. I argue that the report will, if implemented, make UCB administration less efficient than it already is. I also offer one simple reason that the recommendations will also make faculty’s relations to staff worse rather than better, meaning that faculty should help staff find alternatives to the Bain-OE blueprint rather than vainly hoping that it will solve some of their local staffing issues.

Bain was paid $3 million, did much no doubt unpleasant digging in financial records, and in probable conceptual deference to its a campus working group partners (8) produced 205 slides on potential savings on the Berkeley campus. The report identifies “five opportunity areas” for savings (15): Procurement, information technology (IT), energy management, student services, and a non-“area” called organizational simplification.  They produced some useful data: Berkeley works with over 18,000 separate vendors, mostly lacks the equipment standards that would allow discounts via aggressive negotiations on bulk purchases, has such a diffuse IT system that server farms can be found in more than 50 different buildings, doesn’t actually meter and manage energy consumption across campus, and has spread more than 50 student services across five “control points” (slides 16-20).  By improving these functions while also implementing organizational simplification, Bain says that the campus could cut cost in those areas by around 6-10% each (23), thus achieving annual net savings of $70 million by year four of the OE project (24).  Some slides offer sensible price negotiation and consolidation strategies (e.g. 39-42).  Since UCB’s annual budget is $1.65 billion (2007-08), the savings will not be transformative.  But a bit more than 4% annual savings at the end of 4 years seem realistic, useful, and responsible, given UC’s ambitions and obligations as a public institution.

The relatively modest cost savings are coupled with the absence of innovative thinking in this report, and the question arises about why this report had to exist at all. Weren’t these management problems obvious to Berkeley’s own administration?  Didn’t anyone in the Vice Chancellor for Administration’s office count vendors and plan some remedies in 2006, when “strategic sourcing” was a management fad in UCOP, or back in 1996, when the vendor count probably hit 10,000?   So one naturally wonders what is it about UCB’s administration that required it to pay Bain $3 million to tell it how to do some fairly humble portions of its job.

Clues appear in two of Bain’s slides, and bring us back to the fifth opportunity area, the organization itself.  First, Berkeley is not a “flat” or networked organization, but an old-school military pyramid with 11 separate layers of management (56). It is at the same time a fragmented pyramid (62) in which communication is less than ideal. The combination no doubt makes Berkeley administration at times the worst of both worlds: inefficient and yet top-down authority, which stifles creativity in the middle and lower layers without offering clear mobilization orders based on some greater vision of the whole.  In addition, supervisors have fairly few direct reports, or “narrow spans” (55-57).

So far, the data would suggest to most readers that Berkeley’s problem is that it is too hierarchical, has a heavy bureaucratic burden, partitions or actively hides information to the detriment of efficiency, and intimidates or inhibits lower-level staff rather than informing and empowering them.  This would explain why the VC for Administration might now know just how fragmented procurement had become, and why local units would try to operate as much as possible on their own.  In other words, Berkeley has too many supervisors and they do too much supervising, which makes supervising less efficient. Too much staff effort is spent negotiating authority and ensuring compliance and too little in practical problem-solving, process innovation, open communication, and direct service to faculty and student “customers.”  Both efficiency and innovation depend on informal knowledge, constant information exchange, easy collaboration, and high levels of interest and trust.  Berkeley’s stratification and opacity inhibits all of these.

The second clue is confirmation of the effects of UCB’s elaborate hierarchy on organizational morale.  Bain’s survey found that Berkeley has a very low “net promoter score” (114), meaning that a majority of employees would not recommend Berkeley as a place for a friend or relative to work.  Employees also take a dim view of the organization’s mode of decision-making because it is insufficiently “participatory” (115-16).

Putting these pieces together, we might assume, would mean two remedies. 1) Delayer management, specifically, the middle and upper-middle layers that supervise supervisors rather than offering direct support to teaching and research.  2) Rebuild morale by moving to greater participation by all employees in key decisions. (116).  Bain and the OE working groups would then define “organizational simplification” as moving towards a relative flat organization where a smaller number of supervisors and senior executives redefine their role as coordinating participatory decision-making taking place across a decentralized “learning organization.” Efficiency would be sought through informational transparency rather than through bureaucratic authority. Knowledge and trust would increase, self-protection and suspicion would decrease, zero-sum selfishness would decline, and units would be more likely to accept and adapt to painful changes because the participatory process allowed them to understand and to influence the process, even if the outcome was not what they wanted.

This interpretation would move Berkeley towards a flatter and genuinely participatory management structure. But it requires a non-corporate understanding of the university as a necessarily distributed innovation system.  The university’s core missions – instruction and research – do in fact occur in frontline units rather than in central administrative offices.  Its mission intelligence, in other words, is bottom-up, not top down.  The university’s overall output occurs through parallel processing, in which units work on specific activities – only partially shared with others – in relative autonomy.  The core activities range from computer engineering to studio art and cannot be standardized, nor can their administrative support be standardized. Efficiency is compatible with – indeed, depends on -- unit autonomy, which enables units to deliver services in the way that is most effective for their particular “customers” (first-generation students, or IT needs in physics as opposed to economics).  Unit activities and “outputs” are also therefore modular. The university’s decentralization is an expression of the way its work actually gets done – and must get done.  Though logistical and administrative support can certainly be improved, it cannot be improved by violating the bottom-up, semi-autonomous, modular, and decentralized architecture that has been developed over decades to support academic work as it actually takes place.  A university is more like an open source software development community than it is like a production line.

Unfortunately, the OE report’s solutions get this upside-down.  They rest on two “critical enablers” – a “higher performance operating culture” and a “financial management model” (21).

At first these look like no-brainer clichés, but in fact they form a belief system that the report does not derive from its campus analysis but that it imports as pre-conceived ideas about modern organizations.  If you look at column A on slide 21, you will see that “high-performance operating culture” means linear communication and harder decision paths coupled with more measurement of employee output. Column B puts unit finances more directly in charge of those who speak for “pan-university priorities.”  Both “enablers” seek increased control of units and employees. They envision the use of financial audits (and merit pay) to ensure compliance.  These two empirically unsupported axioms about efficiency are what have provoked the staff concerns we’ve been seeing on this blog.  They are structured to default to top-down power, and to operationalize the authority of higher-ranking units over frontliners.  The report’s “enablers” convert Berkeley administration to what British scholars of higher education call “audit culture,” which predictable increases in administrative costs due to escalations in assessment and control.

It follows logically that the report solves the procurement problem with centralization. The future is described in slogans like the following. “Vendor relationships: Central procurement owns all vendor relationships” (47). In this model, financial savings will come only when central procurement reduces unit autonomy and choice.  One could imagine the relief of dozens of units in giving up vendor relations to a central office if and only if the units knew that the central office saw itself as a support function that would honor unit views about their own (distinct and only partially standardizable) needs.  Art history may require graphics cards or processors that are not part of the standardized package.  But centralized, functionally uniform service centers not only lack the kind of local knowledge that makes the unit’s activities efficient, but will define the overriding of local knowledge as part of their job.

The same move toward reinforcing UC’s existing top-down, hierarchical structure appears throughout the organizational simplification section, which is worth reading carefully (52-71).  The report mixes “increasing supervisory spans” with “improving front-line productivity” (54) – meaning it mingles together cutting supervisors with cutting front-line employees.  The data showing that more than half of all supervisors (1000+ people) have 3 or fewer reports (58) supports the interpretation that Berkeley staff suffer from too many supervisors.  The “illustrative example” shows a laborious reshuffling of units with the net result that 22 employees are reduced to 21 (68). Since OE is looking to cut Berkeley’s $700 M in staff payroll by 6-8% (23) the actual layoff rate would be double this.  In addition, the report’s stress on centralization will push losses to the periphery and the bottom rather than letting them occur in the upper-middle, where the salary and efficiency savings would be greater.

Faculty members should also pay close attention, because their activities will not be helped by the report’s definition of optimization as conforming local units to “pan-university” goals (6, 132). Faculty dissatisfaction with staff can be traced to the fact that staff members already do not work for faculty or for their local unit but for the pan-university.  Your department’s bookkeeper may help you to squeeze the last extra value out of your limited grant money, but this is in fact not his job. His job is to provide the university’s budget office with accurate financial information, to enforce university regulations, and to protect the university from audit problems. The same is true for the IT specialist, who is already charged with minimizing costs and maximizing standardization, cross-university connectivity and interoperability.  She is not charged with optimizing your office’s or your lab’s particular system. Staff are already there to fuel the university’s administrative metabolism, to the frustration of faculty and also of most staff.

Bain’s plan is to make IT people report directly to central and senior IT people rather than to your department chair and/or her IT colleagues in related units.  In other words, local, horizontal, cross-functional relationships will be gutted, and replaced by vertical single-function reports.  Those who think this siloing and verticalization will increase efficiency are about thirty years behind in their reading of the management literature, which abounds with tales of the effectiveness of cross-functional teams and horizontal collaborations based on local needs.  Similarly, Bain-OE promulgates the dumb idea that “generalist” supervisors are a problem (52, 76), although in fact they are the indispensible coordinators in any distributed, necessarily non-standardized innovation system. The first victims of this OE regression towards something that looks even more like a 1950s multidivisional corporation will be staff, and the second victims will be the faculty members who have built up local staff collaborations over time on which, in reality, their productivity depends. But the goal is not to enhance faculty productivity, but to optimize the pan-university.  The big losers will be individual academic departments – their staff and faculty alike.  Staff will be pulled away from frontline operational reports and into the authority field of the central office controlling their specific function.

The slide that best summarizes OE’s regressive solutions is 117.

The image is the bureaucratic version of the alien ship in Independence Day, a looming, inverted pyramid in which top dwarfs bottom and threatens to swallow it whole.  Everything flows top-down, and the administrative content takes the form of goals-metrics-evaluation which are communicated to units (metrics –assessment of performance), on down to supervisors (accountability functions) and then finally to individuals (performance metrics tied to unit goals.) Relationships are reduced to the abstract modalities of compliance embodied in assessment procedures.  Management is not support for the university’s necessarily diverse creative functions but is a state of permanent evaluation.  There is no respect here for the autonomy of the units – departmental staff, student services, and technical staff for laboratories – that are close to the “customer” (cf. “autonomous culture” as a source of inefficiency in procurement, slide 35). The tone is of control through communication, through finance, through even more of the endless audit and evaluations to which UC employees are already subject.  The implicit diagnosis is that Berkeley’s employees are inefficient because they are insufficiently assessed, measured, and financially incentivized.  The diagnosis is anti-humanist, at odds with current literature about both human motivation (intrinsic) and effective organizational behavior (collaboratively organized).  It is also ungrounded in evidence from the Berkeley campus.  The predictable effect, as I noted at the start, is that the model contained in the report is already making staff efficiency worse.

I don’t have first-hand knowledge of how the Berkeley campus process is unfolding this week or this month, but the public documents are not promising. There is the OE czar, central process managers, hand-picked committees making implementation decisions in smoke-free rooms, and roving HR bands hired from the outside.  There is nothing there about collaborative implementation, protections for productive autonomy, bottom-up integration, non-intrusive coordination of the decentralization on which organizational creativity depends.

I see three things that would help:
A freeze on threats of staff layoffs tied to the OE process.
Stated commitment to viewing the distributed nature of the university as a strength, and to seeing management as a coordinative support function.
Full participatory involvement in implementation, starting with rank-and-file faculty and front-line staff.

Only a bottom-up process will keep Bain-OE’s new centralized units and new administrators (more HR consultants, more “experienced sourcing staff” (49) from bogging Berkeley down even further. Industry also used to know this, and research managers from Kodak’s legendary Kenneth Mees in the 1920s to the “skunkworks” at Lockheed during World War II to Bell Labs in its heyday to the Internet (all top-down managed “intranets” were commercial failures) to Apache and similar open source software projects– all managed innovation through mutual respect, good communication and the participatory negotiation of policy and resources. The best way to wreck innovation in organizations is to micromanage the local units.  Unless they want to spend even more time and money encouraging UC’s decline, the OE groups need to turn the OE blueprint on its head.


Bob Samuels said...

This is a very good analysis, but since UCB has already spent so much money on this plan to centralize, they will not allow themselves to question the guiding principles behind the plan. It is interesting to read the UCB plan next to the extended recommendations of the Commission on the future; in both cases, you see a combined rhetoric of centralization and efficiency, which as you stress, is a very old model. By reorganizing units, the central administration relocates the loyalty of staff from local departments to central authority,and as you emphasize, this structure will just make people feel more alienated and distrustful.

Anonymous said...

Professor Newfield, as a staff member who has been through a take no prisoners downsizing and admin unit merge, I read your report with tears forming in my eyes. I think it is very "right on". I hope your report is sent to all Chancellors, EVCs, VCAs, and Senate Chairs.

Anonymous said...

You will note that none of these new and highly significant developments have been posted to the OE news website:


We will always be several steps behind in being given real information; all we will see in print is the official gloss-over. Also note that we can no longer make anonymous comments on the OE website; I'm sure we were originally able to do this, otherwise I wouldn't have commented, as I am happily and by necessity:

Anonymous said...

make that "Anonymous"

Anonymous said...

I'm sure it is just a happy coincidence for UC that most of the staff losses will come from the collective bargaining units.

And just where are those unions? I haven't heard a peep from mine.

anonstaff said...

The OE people, who are probably closely monitoring this blog, are probably pleased to see that we staff are working our way through the "Anger Phase" right on schedule. Next comes the "Resignation Phase" where we reluctantly accept our fate. Those of us who remain will eventually reach the Cautious Exploration of Possibilities Phase, and at last we will realize what wonderful benefits change held for us all along. Silly us!

Anonymous said...

anonstaff 8:58 am

Indeed. Although I'm still trying to figure out which animal I would like to be in the "Resistance Zoo!"

cloudminder said...

Chris- all the way back to my comments to you on the "Delta Project" post I have been trying to express what I keep hearing from people on campus

they do not trust the nomination/appointment of administration darlings on OE

these folks have long histories of creating failed business systems, processes that got Cal to this point

yet some faculty are willing to attach their name to them and work on OE

it is not all about Bain - in fact Bain could see that there is a lot of garbage in, garbage out occurring and they could not trust the data as well from the central admin systems on campus as well-- they mentioned this in the report.

existing staff working on OE need to take a long hard look in the mirror


faculty attaching their name to OE better get ready to take a long hot shower with lots of soap...

cloudminder said...

please also remember that UC Berkeley is trying to achieve $75 million savings as their part in the Yudof plan to save $500 Million

the cuts at UCOP for career staff are not done

and neither are the cuts that have yet to occur at other campuses

Berkeley is the guinea pig for some of it.

Bronwen Rowlands said...

From "Notes" from the UCB Council of Deans meeting 9/7/10 http://tinyurl.com/y979cfs:

"[Exec Vice Chanc George Breslauer] asked the deans for their impression of the Deans and Chairs Retreat. Most of the comments were about Operational Excellence (OE) and the need for more details to communicate with their staff. Al Pisano, Program Office Head for OE, urged units to contact the OE design teams to provide input and ask questions."

A couple of weeks ago, I contacted the "Organizational Simplification" manager with questions, and was referred to OE's "Communications Lead" Tet Salva, who, when she finally responded, gave predictably obfuscated responses, and did not respond at all when I asked for clarification.

cloudminder said...

with regard to this section:
" Didn’t anyone in the Vice Chancellor for Administration’s office count vendors and plan some remedies in 2006, when “strategic sourcing” was a management fad in UCOP, or back in 1996, when the vendor count probably hit 10,000?... This would explain why the VC for Administration might now know just how fragmented procurement had become, and why local units would try to operate as much as possible on their own."

Would you be talking about
Paul Gray former EVCP at UCB - who is now serving on Operational Excellence?

or Nathan Brostrom former VC-Administration - who is now Yudof's right hand man/"budget guru" at UCOP?

what understanding, if any, do the current two vice chancellors appointed to fill in as interim VC-Administration ( Frank Yeary and Ron Coley) have on these matters?

and how can OE go forward when there is no permanent replacement for the VC Administration role?

Yeary is from wall street like Brostrom- but that does not tell us if they understand how a university is supposed to work... and the excerpt from Chris' post I pasted in above makes it clear that no one was terribly up to speed on something as important to administration as procurement!

strategic sourcing was a joke-as it rolled out from ucop to the campuses - it was a very sad joke
and in retrospect all the more offensive because it got on record that they knew they were "spending like drunken sailors" all along

now they want to tighten the belt by destroying lives

this is a comment i recently received :
"Joe said... As a furloughed employee and one that lost my own home due to the loss of pay, this is sickening. August 25, 2010 12:10 PM "
(here is the link if you want to see the specific post for yourself:

- we are troubled by those sorts of comments! but these other folks just keep truckin' along carefree and highly compensated.

Birgeneau came on board by way of Robert Dynes -- and much of this happened under his watch (and ,in part, Berdahl's)

when do we ever get a leader who says "the buck stops here"-- and takes responsibility for the many, many failures up to this point?

Anonymous said...

Thank you for this insightful analysis. The College of Natural Resources has already been re-organized along the OE lines (and its Dean has a leadership role in the campuswide 'organizational simplification'). It is impressive to see how much of your dystopian visions have already been realized there.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous @ 2.:04 PM

I would be interested to hear the before and after story.

Anonymous said...


So something similar is going on at UC Davis.

cloudminder said...

here is a direct link on the UC Davis reorg topic


Bronwen Rowlands said...

Argh. I'm going to choke on all this excellence.

"A Vision of Excellence"
A Message from Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi

"Improvements in the efficiency of administrative processes and systems
through the creation of “shared service centers,” the expected reductions
in errors and non-compliance reporting, and the creation of budgetary
savings achieved through centralized and shared service reorganization."

Ohmigod, the UC chancellors are all pod people and the alien spaceship is due to leave Earth in the next few weeks! Is it too late to stop them?

Seriously. Can we stop it? the BLOB of EXCELLENCE?

cloudminder said...

does anyone at UC Davis have any comments about what happened at
all-staff forum about the reorganization August 19th Thursday at 10:30 a.m. in the UCD Conference Center Ballroom?

cloudminder said...

UCD is putting on hold any new info on their OE initiative but are committed still to shared services


but yes folks you are right about making staff into drones read this from the link in my previous comment:

"One employee at UCD might process about 1,065 invoices per year, working on paper with a long approval process. At Johns Hopkins University, which uses a shared service center model and automated system, one employee can process 45,000, the report says."

"About 6,500 finance, HR and IT employees would be affected by the first phase of the project, as drawn up by the consultant.

“On the amount of savings projected, what percentage of that is from staff positions?” asked a woman in the audience during a presentation Monday to employees of administrative units that would be part of the proposed center.

Answered Karen Hull, associate vice chancellor for human resources, “Those savings reflect staff positions.”"

this is UCD's "Bain of their existence" (the consultant who worked on OE at UCD)

Atlanta-based consulting firm ScottMadden

cloudminder said...

are there any updates on Huron Consulting Groups OE work on UCLA?

cloudminder said...

if you want to view the full 17 page report along with links for UCD OE see this:


michael, perhaps you can use this link rather than the one page pdf in "latest links" - it has more info.

Michael Meranze said...

Dear People,
We have changed the link on UCD Operation Excellence to the broader one Cloudminder suggested. Thanks.

Bioman said...

From my perspective, the Bain report has a serious flaw in that it suggests the University is some monolithic organization. It really has two sets of customers: students and faculty with research grants. The faculty are being ignored in the report; treated as if they are just employees at a big organization.

All the talk about Central Procurement owning vendor relationships will never happen. A big organization can negotiate vendor contracts where product A may cost more, but product B is less and the organization will save money overall. But research faculty are not concerned with the university's overall savings only their own. So they will choose a different, less expensive, vendor for product B.

Furthermore, in the biomedical sciences some products appear to be the same at two different vendors, but minor differences can make successful experiments fail. The result is that no grad student or postdoc will ever change suppliers on anything involved in their experiments. There is just too much risk of problems occurring.

Bronwen Rowlands said...

I'm so glad to be wrong! The Teamsters ARE taking action for UC clerical workers:


Gerry Barnett said...

It's almost like the admin hired folks to make this report as an attack on the faculty and staff.

It's a Hayekian moment. Central authority cannot comprehend liberty and conscience. To central authority, liberty and conscience are the failure to serve authority. Thus, central authority must require servility. Audit culture, as Chris puts it. But the public value of a university is not its servility.

So this is an attack on the creative, front-line people who make the university worth being a university.

Fight back while you can.

Invoke public disclosure law, repeatedly... get emails and schedules and reports... payments and contracts.... get it all, get it frequently, get it multiple times from different directions, get it public, get it while it is timely, on your schedule not theirs.

Find out how many consulting (sorry, I keep typing consluting) contracts Berkeley (or UCOP)or other campuses has spent money on in the past five years, make a big deal of this in the press if it's any significant number... which I expect it is... hidden administrative bloat (since not payroll), waste of state funds... publish the contracts, dollars, statements of work. Compare these with the job descriptions of the administrators involved. If the state is paying twice, hand this to the state under the whistleblower statute.

Check whether Bain did any preliminary UC work before taking on the Berkeley contract--if they did, then it is possible they have a conflict of interest akin to what the IT firms had--which means they recommended work that they were then hired to perform.... and if they were sole sourced, even worse... push for whether the Bain contract is illegal.

Take a no-confidence vote in the administration and in Bain as an advisor to a world class research university. Get that done now, faculty and staff, union and non-union, ask the students, co-opt the alumni lists. Don't let admin get to everyone first with a superficial story of cost savings at the expense of all these lives. They propose putting melamine in the milk. Of course that's the money position. But it isn't intellectually honest.

Ask legislators for help--please pass a resolution to get the consultants out of UC altogether... Stop state financing for consultants at UC. If UCOP or a campus administration cannot do the job, then get new UC or campus administration. Maybe Republicans and Democrats would be willing to work together on this.

Anonymous said...

Gerry Barnett: As a UC staff member, I appreciate your passionate intensity (for once, the good guys are full of it!), but the situation is far gone, and the power is in the hands of the bad guys.

cloudminder said...

anon 335
talk about apathy..

davis is not even through with the first stage yet

and berkeley is only in stage two

still time - but not for the weak at heart

Gerry Barnett said...

Yeah, I know the Yeats bit in "The Second Coming" on passionate intensity. I'm trying not to be that. This is a time, however, for at least some conviction. This is not about resistance to change. This is about making changes that address the things that are essential to the public mission of a research university.

If I can boil it down, it would appear Bain thinks that when times get tough, the public calls out for reorganization or servility or lower quality educational and research services, so long as the administration remains strong. It just doesn't wash.

I don't expect the administration to self-propose its own loss of standing, but that's the moral thing to do, at this point, by reducing senior administrative salaries to maintain the essential expertise on the outer edges of instruction and research, or reducing the number of senior positions, or reducing administrative expenditures, such as new policy development for, like, campus-wide risk assessment, or hiring conslutants.

Chris makes an articulate case for a different direction as a primary way to reduce costs. Spreading distress throughout the campus is foolish, damaging. What a disaster to think that a university's staff are plug-and-play, or that specialization can replace contextual knowledge. Here there's a huge budget shortfall and rather than reducing expenses with some expediency, you have a two year show of expensive but worthless meetings about the future, huge energy thrown into spreading the problem all around via furloughs, and then the deal is, when it's clear that no one has the spine to propose any organizational changes directly, to staff *up* with consultants and propose a total reorganization. How cost-sensitive is that?

It would at least make it a hurdle for Bain and co to overcome for departments to go on record that their staffs are an essential part of their reputation and sources of funding, and that removing staff to random specialty huts will harm quality, damage students, and will be reported as such to the public.

Washington State University recently reduced the number of Vice Presidents from 9 to 6, and earlier the WSU President voluntarily cut his own pay. There is a hope of something like good faith in such gestures.

Anonymous said...

Gerry and Cloudminder:
I am anon 3:35. I am in the front lines with my UC clerical and service staff co-workers, and have been for 26 years. When you call me apathetic, doubt my conviction, accuse me of resistance to change, I have this for you:
What did you do in the war, Dad?

Gerry Barnett said...

Hey, I'm not calling anyone apathetic... and your comment didn't indicate that you were resisting change, but rather resigned to it... which may be a perfectly respectable way to deal with things, and with this discussion.

As of yet, it appears, there isn't even a decent public debate, let alone a war... Perhaps all this concern just isn't sufficiently important for the broader university community to care much... whatever happens, happens, let the senior admin folks do what they feel they have to...

Chris's account of university expertise and operations is compelling. His comments would focus change into those areas that do not unhinge the core expertise in instruction and research, which is represented by the faculty and staff in departments and research projects working together to optimize their local, modular operations rather than having generic specialists dealing with things on a volume basis, not recognizing the structure and importance of many flexible, low volume, high impact transactions that make up teaching and research.

It's a stark view, if one imagines every provider of services in one's life becoming an abstraction, a remote "specialist" serving someone else's monetary need ahead of your own needs. What is possible falls away to the generic monotony, like all those cable channels you don't watch and don't care about. That's the Bain vision of the money position. It just happens to be devoid of any sense of the quality position.

The Bain report's function is to separate money and quality, reduce the money, and then leave it as a problem for the university to continue to function so the milk still looks and tastes like milk. One can only go so far along that path with marketing spin and audits for compliance. It makes the front lines into a bunch of back offices.

Is a university a factory? Is an orchestra? A church? Bain gets paid to say, yes. Turn all of these into factories. That's the money position.

cloudminder said...

anon 635
you said "but the situation is far gone, and the power is in the hands of the bad guys. "

that is apathy
i stand by calling it that-apathy

the rest of the stuff you mentioned-- not sure who you are directing that at 'cause none of it belongs to me

with regard to your "dad and war" comment
i have fought injustice at Berkeley as a student, as staff, as an alum, as a resident of Berkeley, as a Californian. Protests, petitions, speaking truth to power in inconvenient moments, donating to the alumni associations (I've stopped the donations until the place is cleaned up) etc

what have you done?

anon_staff said...

It seems to me that a large part of the problem is that there is no public forum for this to be discussed. And that's the way the OE people like it to be. You'll note that, while there have been extremely significant developments in the past two weeks regarding proposed staff reorganizations, there is not a word about this on the OE website; no official announcements by the Daily Cal; no "lets get real about this" chats with the higher ups. Just a series of meetings with managers and faculty and the dissemination of information is left up to the rumor mill.

So we expend a lot of energy trying to gear up to fight an enemy which remains unseen. And after a couple of weeks we start to turn on each other, also as planned. I can feel it myself: last week I was a constant poster, ferreting out bits of information and sharing them, logging in for bits of information provided by others. This week I'm just tired and indeed apathetic and I want to go back to concentrating on the things that make me happy and not have this constant worrying about undefined threats.

I suspect that few people actually post comments here, a decent number more read but don't feel prepared to comment, and many more either don't want to pay attention or don't want to stir themselves up further. But I can tell you that almost every employee I've spoken to at Berkeley does not approve of how this is being handled, and is not under the illusion that their job will be any better when all this is over. It's just that we are divided and unable to communicate or present a united front.

All according to plan, read your Change Management Literature!

Bronwen Rowlands said...

Posted on UC Berkeley's "Operational Excellence" website Friday night (always a good time to post dicey items):

My favorite line is:
"The transition will also be bumpy, and for some, personally painful."

Gerry Barnett said...

Spread distress throughout the system, focus everyone on that manufactured distress rather than the distress that is *causing the problem*, and then spend even more administrative resource managing the distress. Then we find out, eventually, who they will push out of the boat. It's like a game show for them. Build the dramatic tension everywhere!

What an administrative trough! They cannot help themselves, can they? It is what they do--capture and consume resources. Ravenous, amoral, inept. But keep the language abstract and civil folks, while we get on with this pwning.

For every position lost, senior management salaries should be reduced. Save double. Fewer position reports, less importance to the position, so should affect the top position salaries directly, immediately. Heck, if an administrator proposes salary cuts, that should trigger his/her own salary cut *first*. That's the real share the distress.

Meanwhile, in a fit of dunnowhat, I let my Public Pivot web site go live, where you can pull down the 2009 salary data for UW in an excel spreadsheet and see how one could limit the distress with budget cuts of 5% or more by reducing the top salaries before touching services or pushing the distress beyond 30% of employees, and without the administrative hump up of yet more spending to reorganize.


Bronwen Rowlands said...

I realize now that the "personally painful" line in my previous post is a horrible echo of Argentine investigative journalist Rodolfo Walsh's "Open Letter from a Writer to the Military Junta" in 1977:
"...It is in the economic policy of this government where one discovers not only the explanation for the crimes, but a greater atrocity which punishes millions of human beings through planned misery..." How DARE UC and its hired guns announce to us that they are planning to devastate our lives? What are we letting happen here?

Mike Friedrich said...

A data correction: according to a UCB staffer who has seen the contract, UCB contracted with Bain & Co for $11M. UCB has only announced the initial $3M and an additional $4M, but is keeping hidden the remainder. UPTE-CWA is attempting to obtain a copy of the contract, but UCB is dragging its heels.

Anonymous said...

Interesting. So this is why, on the OE website, they make you request a copy of the contract and related documents by e-mail rather than offer a pdf as they do for all the other documents:


anon_staff said...

$11 million?! Shades of Sarah Palin and CS Stanislaus! If UC isn't sharing this contract with anyone how did this figure get out?

Anonymous said...

For someone who doesn't call the Berkeley campus home, Chris really nails this. The problem is that we really do need to do something, and right now OE is the only game in town. They have a plan. No one else has a plan--and no on else has the resources to develop a plan.

When OE was initiated, many of us hoped that it would develop a plan that led to greater efficiencies and respected Berkeley's unique campus culture. Instead, it's given us totally regressive organizational theories, wrapped in contemporary organizational development jargon.

The tone that I hear among my staff colleagues is one of resignation, not apathy. The staff is demoralized from furloughs and the layoffs that have already taken place on campus. OE has exacerbated the situation with its disparaging, insulting characterization of campus staff--including supervisors. At the end of the day, if the only way to cut expenses is to layoff staff, so be it. But please do not provide these absurd rationalizations, or pretend to care about the "career paths" of staff. We're not buying it. Many of us feel that the $3M spent on Bain was little more than cover for the new cooperate-minded masters of UC to do what they've wanted to do all along.

Unknown said...

Operational Excellence (OE) sponsored by Chancellor Birgeneau so that he and his VC do not have to get their hands dirty cost $3,000,000. Net result besides lbs of paper is 900 fired.
All the Bain is doing can be done by the world class faculty at Cal.
The Cal Academic Senate leadership sleeps in the same bed as Chancellor Birgeneau. Where is the check and balance?
Nice way to make $3,000,000: it is after all not our money so why worry....
Ater all it is only $3,000,000 and that is such a small % of UC Berkeley's budget.

Fredrick said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

Operational Excellence is a positive moniker for a program to help the Berkeley campus save millions of dollars on staff salaries in order to maintain academic services and quality within existing resources. The alternative, in the face of declining state resources was higher tuition or more out of state and country student admits. Organizational reformation was a necessary component of slimming down staff. In some cases these changes may have produced more effective organizations, but in general they simply put more burdens on existing staff. Perhaps the greatest shortfall of the program was that it dismissed anyone's opinion that did not fall within the commitment to change, or the numbers analysis that was to be achieved. We [middle managers] were literally given targets of FTE to reduce at one stage of the process early on. I have retired, and I am grateful to no longer be part of this cultural change. The loss of institutional knowledge that comes from this purging will have two unfortunate consequences. One, the loyalty to the institution by staff is replaced by career building, and efficiency is limited by the lack of understanding of how operations work beyond organizational theory.

Chris Newfield said...

this seems like a good summary to me. I would love some updated data on real net savings.

Anonymous said...

SMU here in Dallas has just completed their Baining (July 2015) and those left here in the wake could use any advice you have as to how to stay afloat?

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