Monday, April 11, 2011

The Brief And Glorious Return of Skippy The Duck

Many moons ago, the very first website created for Imagine!’s Labor Source department featured occasional musings on disability services and supported employment written by one Skippy the Duck. Skippy’s strongly held and occasionally controversial opinions were crafted in a prose style strikingly similar to this very blog.

I still find myself thinking every now and then about what that mighty duck had to say, and I recently re-read one of his rants that seemed just as relevant now as it was when it was written almost 15 years ago:

Scott Adams, author of The Dilbert Principle, recently described “good management as knowing what’s fundamental to success, and what’s not.” He went on to say, “Any activity that is ‘one level removed’ from your people or your (service) will ultimately fail or have little benefit.”

I learned a couple of things from reading this. One, you never know where you might turn up a good piece of wisdom, and two, a little reflection of our own activities never does any harm. So, I looked at our practice of supporting people who have a disability. I was disturbed to realize how much time and how many resources are consumed on “one level removed” activities.

Following Scott Adams’ lead:

Testing a better way to conduct job searches is fundamental. Conferencing about philosophies, and how to act like a business, is one level removed.

Talking to community members about interacting with people who have a disability is fundamental. Preaching to ourselves about how the rest of the community needs to better accommodate those who have a disability, is one level removed.

Taking action to improve a person’s life is fundamental. Creating action plans to improve a person’s life is one level removed.

Discussing contemporary events at a coffee shop with people we serve is fundamental. Discussing integration with other staff at a monthly support meeting is one level removed.

Talking with people we serve is fundamental. Talking about them is one level removed.

He did not suggest that we eliminate activities that are one level removed. He did suggest that attention should be focused on the fundamentals. Meetings that require consensus, policy and process improvement, and conferences that focus on sharing philosophies are no longer things I consider fundamental. On the other hand, talking to people who do not share the same knowledge base, or decreasing the period of time a person is unemployed are both fundamental.
The bottom line is spending less time discussing how and more time doing.

Thank you Scott Adams.

Remember, you can't learn to play second base by sitting on the bench!

Even today, I find myself taking to Skippy’s views like a duck takes to water. Thanks Skippy, for returning from the past and sharing your still pertinent ideas!

Then again, what do I know about learning to play second base?

1 comment:

  1. ArebSkippy's ideas just as relevant as before? Maybe they are far more relevant than before. If Skippy had access to modern technology he/she might find that these princnciples are more accessible than ever. Skippy could utilize modern tools such as cloud computing, global social networking, texting, e-mails, blogging and autonomic computing systems to deal with "one level removed" issues if not completely eliminate them. This would emphasize more human on human (or in this case human on duck) interaction between providers, consumers, stakeholders and.... ducks.
    I wonder how a duck like Skippy would fair in a 15-year-older world?