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Coping with Change in Turbulent Times. Moving from Good to GREAT!. Peter W. Preuss, Ph.D., Director, National Center for Environmental Assessment. Presentation for ORD’s Managers Workshop and Division Directors Meeting November 5, 2008. Incremental change sucks!!

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peter w preuss ph d director national center for environmental assessment

Coping with Change in Turbulent Times

Moving from Good to GREAT!

Peter W. Preuss, Ph.D., Director,

National Center for Environmental Assessment

Presentation for

ORD’s Managers Workshop and Division Directors Meeting

November 5, 2008

slide2

Incremental change sucks!!

Buy-in is overrated!!...and

Stakeholders are inconsequential!!!

Do you believe that?

transforming ord s business model the hedgehog concept
Transforming ORD’s Business Model:The Hedgehog Concept
  • Extensive studies by J. Collins revealed that organizations which have made a sustained transformation from good to great all shared a single concept they used as a frame of reference – the “Hedgehog Concept”
  • The “Hedgehog Concept” is founded on a deep understanding of an organization along three dimensions
  • What are we deeply passionate about?
  • What can we excel at? (Be the best)
  • What drives our resource engine?
slide4

“They are extinct in the wild…

Wait for it

…but some still exist in ORD.”

No one in this room, of course!!

slide5

CHANGE IN ORD:

Going From Good to GREAT

  • The Greek poet Archilochus (7th Century, B.C.E.) said: “ The fox knows many things, but the hedgehog knows one big thing.”
  • The hedgehog concept is not a goal to be the best, a strategy to be the best, an intention to be the best, a plan to be the best. It is an understanding of what you can be best at. The distinction is absolutely crucial.
  • “Those who built the good-to-great companies were, to one degree or another, hedgehogs. Those who led the comparison companies tended to be foxes, never gaining the clarifying advantage of the Hedgehog Concept, being instead scattered, diffused, and inconsistent.” (From “The Hedgehog Concept”, J. Collins)
slide6

Change, BIG Change, has happened and is happening in ORD

…and successfully!!

My experiences:

  • Creating the Office of Science Policy (OSP)
  • Expanding the National Center for Environmental Research (NCER)
  • Refocusing theNational Center for Environmental Assessment (NCEA)
slide7

Change, BIG Change, has happened and is happening in ORD

My experiences:

  • Creating OSP
  • Expanding NCER
  • Refocusing NCEA
slide8

Creating of OSP

OSRI: Office of Science and Research Integration

OTTRS:Office of Technology Transfer and Regulatory Support

OSP: Office of Science Policy

slide9

ORD’s Office to Integrate and Communicate Science Results

  • Problem:
    • Large number of offices in ORD, each dealing independently with EPA programs and regions
    • Programs and regions would go directly to the ORD office that they knew would give them a favorable response
    • These were “bad” ORD budget years. ORD offices became contract labs to programs; much of the funding coming from programs
    • Little, if any, cross-ORD coordination or communication
  • Corrections:
    • Understanding that ORD needed to coordinate and communicate a single ORD “face” to the rest of the Agency
    • Create new office that reported directly to the AA
    • Proposal to AA included the establishment of small teams to interface with each of the media offices
    • Interact with appropriate ORD offices/scientists and relay in unified fashion information to the programs; facilitate resolution of disagreements among ORD scientists
  • Results:
    • Single ORD interface with the rest of the Agency
    • Consistency, coordination, communication
slide10

Change, BIG Change, has happened and is happening in ORD

My experiences:

  • Creating OSP
  • Expanding NCER
  • Refocusing NCEA
slide11

Expanding ORD’s Extramural Grants Program

OER: Office of Exploratory Research

NCERQA:National Center for Environmental Research and Quality Assurance

NCER: National Center for Environmental Research

slide12

Expanding ORD’s Extramural Grants Program

  • Problem:
    • Large number of offices in ORD each funding grants, cooperative agreements, IAGs, etc.
    • There was an Exploratory Grants Program, but no GRANTSPROGRAM; just a series of individual, unrelated grants
    • No cross-ORD coordination or communication
    • External researchers could not depend on long-term ORD funding for a multi-year, complex project
    • Thus, no external researcher could build a career based on EPA funding capacity
    • ORD had poor relationship with the academic community
  • Corrections:
    • Build a significant and coordinated program that is:
      • Relevant to EPA needs
      • Makes a difference to environmental protection
      • Brings EPA to the forefront in funding research
      • Develops true partnership with academic research community
  • Results:
    • Grants and fellowship program that is uniquely EPA
    • Dependable partnership with academia
    • ORD recognition and influence increased
    • Increased consistency, coordination, and communication across ORD

11

slide13

Change, BIG Change, has happened and is happening in ORD

My experiences:

  • Creating OSP
  • Expanding NCER
  • RefocusingNCEA
slide14

NCEA: Focus on Areas of Excellence

  • Past BOSC reviews (1997, 2001) remarked that NCEA was “a mile wide and an inch deep”…not good!
  • There were many people in NCEA who worked on individual projects that they convinced the RCTs to support
  • Corrections needed:
    • Review all activities across the organization
    • Determine selected areas of emphasis
    • Phase out or eliminate unrelated work
    • Develop multi-year plan for human health risk assessment work
    • Continue to focus NCEA’s scope and mission
  • Results:
    • Some hard feelings
    • A few staff found other jobs
  • And
slide15

NCEA’s 2007 BOSC Review

  • “The Subcommittee believes that the HHRA Program has a comprehensive and logical framework for producing high- quality risk assessments and for managing internal and external review processes.”
  • “The focus on risk assessment has allowed the HHRA Program to serve as a center for risk assessment methodology development.”
  • “The HHRA Program has been highly responsive to the needs of the program offices and regions.”
  • “The Subcommittee found the science that the HHRA Program is using in its risk assessments to be state-of-the- art, and that the research conducted…is forward looking and cutting edge.
slide16

Incremental change sucks!!

Buy-in is overrated!!...and

Stakeholders are inconsequential!!!

What have we learned about change in ORD?

AND >>>

slide17

So, What are the lessons from these three efforts at change?

In ORD, we need the full support of the AA and the AA’s Deputies.

We need partner(s) to succeed

There is no need to reinvent the wheel - others have traveled the same road - use the lessons they learned

Build a constituency that will support the change for a long time

slide18

Make sure that if you are going undertake big change, that your boss is 100% on board.

  • The importance of buy-in from senior management cannot be overstated.
ord future state
ORD: Future State
  • ORD is recognized as the “go-to organization” for solving problems of national/international significance through integrated, multi-disciplinary research
  • All ORD employees at all levels of the organization understand that our strength is in conducting integrated, multi-disciplinary research and are individually and corporately engaged (silos removed)
  • Research portfolio reflects growing emphasis on decision support and translational science focused on problems of national/international significance
  • Science communication transcend traditional scientist-to-scientist and peer-reviewed journal articles
  • Effectively engaged/communicating with stakeholders that directly affect our revenue stream
  • ORD leaders are recognized both within and outside EPA for their capability to deliver on our mission
  • ORD has goals about which we are passionate and which allow us to demonstrate that we are the best
  • ORD embraces change, and, importantly