Alcor's Resource ManagementFebruary 27 2008 at 9:25 PM
|Tripper McCarthy (Login tripperm)|
One thing that I have been thinking of recently is the change Alcor staff members adopted a while ago about not telling the members about what they are currently working on. The rationale was that in the past they have announced several projects they were devoting time to, but for some reason these projects never saw the light of day. Now, to the extent that Alcor does communicate about its projects, it is often in general and vague language. Instead of announcing which projects are being started and when completion is expected, claims are often made that "Alcor is working on it" or "Alcor has ideas about it". Because the simple fact of giving thought to some issue can constitute "working on it", this does not tell the membership anything.
Their response to this problem, i.e. not telling us what their target goals are, seems rather misguided. Instead of addressing the real problem (why aren't they getting these things done) they instead decided to sweep the problem under the rug by closing off communication. I'm really surprised that nobody has taken them to task on this.
To be specific, here are some of the things that were mentioned in the past that have seemed to float off into limbo:
1) What is the status on Alcor's liquid ventilation project?
2) What has happened with the money that had been raised for fracturing research?
3) What are Alcor's changes to its ATP?
4) Where is the new ice bath which has been in development for years? (I remember seeing a prototype way back in 2006 and saw a near ready one last week (Feb 2008). But that begs the question when will this thing ever be done and get into the hands of the people that need it?)
Im sure there are a number of other projects that have also drifted off into the ether that others can comment on. While I know the staff at Alcor are spending all the time they can on these and other issues, it leads one to wonder if Alcor is biting off more than it can chew. If this is the case, the real problem would seem to be one of resource management. Either they do not have enough resources for all the things they want to do, or those resources are not being effectively managed to get those things done.
Both of these problems can be solved by having a CEO at Alcor who has experience in staff/resource management. We need someone who can look at what needs to be done, what resources are available to do it, and then effectively allocate those resources to get the jobs completed. Constant monitoring of the staff is needed to assess the progress they are making, and to provide the staff help in the event that unexpected complications arise.
Of course not everything on the list of "wants" and "needs" can be done. There is a finite set of resources and an almost never ending stream of new ideas. Priorities have to be made, and some things may need to be shelved for the moment. But these are the kind of decisions that an effective manager has to make all the time. I know that many of the things Alcor has been and is working on are complex. Unexpected road blocks can pop up at any time. But there are so many projects that have been in limbo for so long that it leads one to wonder just how effective the resource management at Alcor is.
With effective management it would be possible to state what Alcor is working on, what the expected date of completion is, and actually make those deadlines. Yes sometimes schedules will have to be revised. I work in the software industry and know that stuff happens. But I also know that we have a much better shot of either making our deadlines, or being pretty close to them, with effective project management. It would seem that effective project management was lacking before at Alcor. The question now is has it gotten any better, and if so why?
A follow up question to this issue is; whatever happened to the search for a new CEO for Alcor? I know that originally Steve Van Sickle was brought in to steer the helm while a search for a CEO was launched. I never remember anything ever coming of that. Was it decided that Steve was the man for the job and thus no search was warranted? If so, what resource/staff management skills does Steve bring to the job? How effective has he been in keeping projects on track to completion? Because we no longer know specifically what Alcor is working on and when completion should be expected, the membership is pretty much in the dark about this.
If there was one thing I think Alcor could do to make a significant impact on its internal performance, hiring a CEO with a track record of successful resource/staff management would be it. Other characteristics while desirable should be secondary.
I apologize. (sniff)
|February 28 2008, 1:32 AM |
Lest anyone here feel neglected that part of my attention has been diverted lately to CryoNet, let me say it is probably just a passing fad, started by Alcor board dictator Riskin showing up there so I absolutely had to go over there and have an exchange with him, which lasted all of 2 messages after which he shut up before I was done with him, but I digress.
Fear not, I have not abandoned CF. But there is some nerd over there named Tim Freeman who thinks neither he nor anybody else should go anywhere but to CN, and he is fun to mess with, kinda like unperson, and RP and a few other past CF posters. So, well, OK, I am done, before this turns into a rant, I desist.
Here FWIW is my post on CN in reply to the same post above from Tripper that he posted on CN, and whom I would ask if it is his real name as it sounds about as real as Finance Department but we have not gotten into an argument yet. Anon, forthwith:
Date: Wed, 27 Feb 2008 23:13:52 -0700
From: "Finance Department" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: Performance Reviews including those of CryoNet Posters
Tripper McCarthy's questions are right on target, and the same reply applies
to most of them: Alcor has no ongoing research or development program,
despite a littered trail of false starts. I've had less to say about this
issue because I consider a more important deficiency of Alcor that needs to
be addressed is that of their lack of a credible standby service. But as to
research, Alcor simply doesn't keep science staff - they leave, sooner more
often than later, and the answer to that problem lies hidden somewhere in
its management and/or board. The lack of even knowing the reasons for the
constant employee turnover at Alcor simply points up the need for more
transparency and member involvement in the process of deciding who is
qualified to be on its board.
Perhaps this item would be included under the "fracturing research"
category, but I seem to recall having read some months back something about
Alcor having an Intermediate Temperature Storage device for head-only that
they were running tests on. I suppose this expensive piece of equipment is
just sitting there someplace gathering dust and rust in a closet, the
responsible researcher having departed that field for greener pastures?
Anyway it would be great to have it working, as supposedly without it
vitrified patients are subjected to unwarranted amounts of cracking by
having to be stored at lower temperatures. Why bother with vitrification at
all if it isn't done right, in a safe manner for the patient? Not to
mention Remote/Field Vitrification, which is the right and safe way to do
standby/stabilization, but is not even on Alcor's agenda much less their
And now my pen-pal Tim Freeman, who seems to be this month's mouthpiece for
Alcor and to be sucking up for a seat on its board, because I suppose he was
turned down for membership in ACS, made some statements recently that are
more notable in what they omit.
"All employers I've ever been involved with have kept their performance
reviews very private."
If Alcor acts like the ordinary American employer, it will never get the
extraordinary feat of cryonics done properly. But Tim ignored half of what I
mentioned and focused only on the reviews of the employees, and there he
does make some valid points. The main point though is not to completely
disclose all kinds of specific employee information but to announce any
general observations and/or changes in management that the review has
produced. And I was more interested in what the employees had to say about
their management, the board, and the ongoing projects (if any). A lot of
that information could be published without engendering any lawsuits.
Having said that, I will say I've heard some people changes are in the
works. I promised not to go into details. Let's see how much information
they publish on the rationale behind them. Maybe the board has figured out
it is time for them to start doing their jobs, if they want to keep them?
LOL - Yep its my real name
|February 28 2008, 12:57 PM |
Yep, believe it or not Tripper McCarthy is my real name.
Your parents had a sense of humor? :)
|February 28 2008, 1:22 PM |
I'll spare any elaborations, which you have probably heard all your life. Glad you are smiling.
And thanks for the attention you are giving to the Alcor board problem. There may be hope for them after all.