Gosh, it's been a few days.
I had an opportunity to drive by myself for a few hours this week. It was cathartic. It's good for a person to have some time alone to do nothing. To do nothing but think.
I came to the conclusion (which I've known, but have not OWNED) that I WON. With this whole layoff deal. Intellectually I've known that it's a good thing for me, but the actualization came this week. It's nice. The pride is still a bit bruised, but the black and blue is all gone, and it's just a light yellow now.
Life at home is peaceful. Well, when the boys aren't fighting, but let's face it: they are going to fight, and they fight when I'm working too... but the slower pace is nice. No more rushing around to pick up the kids and throw something on the table. I have the schedule pretty well lined up, and it's easy enough to move things around when needed, which is how I like my schedules to be. Life is good.
Well, I went to the CAT (commissioner approved training) seminar thing, and though I don't know if I'm approved to be able to go to school and collect unemployment benefits yet, I did find out that I probably still qualify for TAA benefits (schooling from NAFTA stuff since a previous job went overseas). I'm still chasing it all down. I have an orientation seminar for that in about 10 days. And I can appeal the previous denial for WIA. So many acronyms for basically the same thing. I do plan to appeal. I have no idea how they determined I was in a demand occcupation when my occupation wasn't anywhere to be found. Yes, I do have a degree in organizational managment, however... that's a very broad field, and my experience is very specific to quality and process. I'm just NOT going to qualify for a retail manager, or some department manager without other experience. Besides, high tech and manufacturing are so male dominated. I'm really just worn out trying to be some female poineer there. I don't think I can do it anymore. Not if I want to keep my sanity.
I'M GOOD ENOUGH, SMART ENOUGH, AND GOSH DARN IT, PEOPLE LIKE ME
Which brings me back to my driving thoughts. Doggone it, I'm highly intelligent and very capable. I had to scrap my way to getting the bare bones of my job done. It is not easy telling other brilliant people whom you respect that there are problems with the way they are doing things (or not doing them). It takes a special personality to get compliance from such people. I had those skills. They were underappreciated. They became invisible over time. Then I became invisible. Then I believed I wasn't important, wasn't capable, wasn't valuable. I cannot let that happen again.
There are only so many times a person can "charge the hill" and be defeated before they stop trying to charge the hill. The process is hastened when those who are supposed to help you along (those sitting in offices with windows and doors, and whom sign your annual review) are the very ones blocking your way or telling you NO.
YOU CAN ONLY IMPROVE WHAT YOU MEASURE
I realized something else. The foundation of quality is measurement. We all do this, whether we realize it or not. We measure. Height, weight, cost of groceries, gas, medical expenses. Even if we don't chart and graph these things, we are cognizant of them, and it drives our behavior.
Now I'm not exacltly a svelte woman. And when I'm not working hard to lose weight, I don't weigh myself. Why? because I don't want to be confronted with the truth. Same could be said for people with debt problems. They don't sit down and look at their numbers and spending habits... no one wants to face this stuff. It's not fun. It doesn't make us feel good. And we can't possibly NOT feel good, right?
One of my roles was to measure processes in order to improve them. Now, one process in particular had a lot of opportunity for improvement, if you catch my drift. So I'd worked with IT to implement a very simple and automated way to measure volume and lead time. How many times an activity is performed and how long the activity takes are two fundamental process measurements. It was ready for the button to be pushed, and at the last minute, the dude in charge (who also happened to be my boss, who understands process excellence, and who was supposed to be responsible to make my job easy... remove barriers and all that) said NO. Suddenly he wasn't on board.
A different MANager took the same approach. Forecast accuracy. How well did we do forecasting sales? How much excess and obsolete inventory were we carrying because of over forecast? How many times did we have unhappy customers because we underforecast and had no raw materials? How many times did they have to wait longer than promised to get their goods? A direct quote: We don't want to measure that stuff, it will make us look bad.
So THIS is why my efforts have not been as successful as they should have been. It's not that managers weren't interested in improvement. It's that the preliminary measurements "made them look bad." We can't have THAT in the era of the quarterly layoff cycle, now can we?
Heaven forbid we do the right thing just because it's the right thing to do.
I'm excited at the prospect of changing industries. Not that a different industry is without it's own demons, but at least the healthcare industry is on record for wanting to improve processes and reduce costs. Who knows, perhaps I'll have an opportunity to participate in some REAL, meaningful change. Be a part of history. For the better.