News

Tiered Accountability

By Charlene Coriz

Friday, January 05, 2018

Meetings highlight issues and foster faster solutions across the Labs

Five months ago, the Laboratory Operating System (LOS) was introduced to Sandia. It was the first step in Sandia’s efforts to enhance the behaviors, processes, and tools needed to effectively deliver value to the Labs’ customers.

“My first experience with LOS was the weekly division tier meetings,” said Teresa Ostrem, Mission Services Human Resources business partner. “I’ve been able to inform our leadership team about changes on the HR horizon, allowing them to prepare their areas in advance. I’ve learned that LOS doesn’t change how Sandia does business; it just enhances the Labs’ effectiveness.”

Almost every organization – big or small – has some type of an operating system (formal or otherwise) to define and demonstrate how they do business. The intent for the LOS is to augment Sandia’s current operating system and build off what’s done today using a consistent, purposeful approach. The LOS is comprised of six enablers: Strategy Deployment, Data-driven & Visual Management, Tiered Accountability, Problem Solving & Continuous Improvement, User-centered Design, and Velocity Technology Development. The tools, processes, and behaviors work together to produce an engaged workforce, operational effectiveness, and customer value.

“There are teams across the Labs using LOS tools and seeing success."

The first enabler launched was Tiered Accountability, a communication tool designed to enable quick information sharing up and down the organization. The objective is to make key information visible, reinforce accountability, identify and escalate issues, and to ensure people focus on the right work priorities.

Tiered Accountability started at the executive level (Tier 5), and today, there are more than 150 active tier boards at all levels of the organization.

“At the Division 1000 level, our tier boards help our management stay appraised of what is going on, who is visiting an important customer, what challenges one organization might be having delivering to mission, and where we need help from people above us. Tier boards allow us to get real time feedback. Rather than a series of meetings, we can turn to our tier boards,” says Susan Seestrom, chief research officer.

Recently at the Center 1400 (Tier 3) level, Director Scott Collis escalated an issue regarding pedestrian safety on Innovation Parkway after noting speeding is a concern for staff walking between the Cyber Engineering Research Laboratory and Computer Science Research Institute facilities. This issue was added to the Rolling Action Item List on the Tier 3 board and quickly escalated up to Tier 5 (Senior Leadership Team). The action was assigned to both Susan and Jaime Moya, Environment, Safety, & Health director, who worked with their teams, as well as Safeguards & Security. Together, they developed solutions within two weeks. The actions to increase pedestrian safety included partnering with the city of Albuquerque to conduct traffic studies during peak traffic times, installation of a radar speed sign, cleanup of overgrown vegetation covering traffic signs, and teaming with the Albuquerque Police Department to post officers at key points. This is just one example of how groups can use tier boards to identify issues and involve the right people quickly in developing solutions.

Tiered Accountability is just one piece of the LOS puzzle. Other LOS enablers are being developed in partnership with key stakeholders around the Labs. A roadmap is being created by the LOS team to address requirements and build on best practices. Josh Parsons, Business Excellence director, adds, “There are teams across the Labs using LOS tools and seeing success. Part of our journey will be to highlight that work, identify the key processes, and then share them across the organization.”

LOS resources and tools are being fashioned, iterated on, and made available by the LOS team on the LOS website.