Collaborative Workgroup Process (CWP) Achieves First Milestone Success
Friday, September 28, 2012
Left to right: Meeting Facilitator Colleen McKenna, NATCA’s National Collaboration Lead Russ Miller, AIR-200 Bufkin Fairchild, PASS MIDO James Pratt, AIR-2 Frank Paskiewicz and NATCA National AIR Representative Tomaso DiPaolo
NATCA and the FAA’s Aircraft Certification Service (AIR) recently achieved a milestone success through a collaboration workgroup. The group used Collaborative Workgroup Process (CWP), a program that NATCA and ATO rolled out nationwide in 2011 following some training sessions conducted earlier this year for select management/NATCA members covered by the Multi-Unit contract. Not only was the workgroup’s ability to address and resolve the issue using collaboration a first for the NATCA/AIR relationship, but it was also the first full inclusion of counterparts from Flight Standards (AFS) management and Professional Aviation Safety Specialists (PASS). In terms of groups using full collaboration — where the output is not a recommendation but the actual solution to be implemented — it's the first instance of multi-organization and multi-union cooperation.
In January 2012, Frank Paskiewicz, AIR-2, and Tomaso DiPaolo, NATCA National AIR Representative, attended a two-day training course for CWP in Chicago. They then committed to “scoping” a list of issues they both thought were important for collaborative workgroups to address.
Dorenda Baker (left) and Frank Paskiewicz (right)
“There’s just no substitute for national leaders making a personal commitment to try authentic collaboration,” said NATCA’s National Collaboration Lead Russ Miller (pictured below). “We can develop practices and processes to foster collaborative success, and we can even measure the improved results, but Tomaso and Frank believed in their people and stepped forward. That was essential”
In April 2012, a follow-up meeting took place at the Mike Monroney Aeronautical Center in Oklahoma City with Paskiewicz, DiPaolo, and their assembled group of AIR managers and NATCA AIR representatives to review and discuss the proposed list of scoped issues. Their first goal was to select a single issue to address. The scoped issue was selected and the group was challenged with designing a tracking system for Organization Designation Authorization (ODA) Unit Members (UM), to ensure quality and professionalism across the nation, without creating significant costs or training needs.
In addition, this scoped issue would address one of the recommendations from the DOT Office of Inspector General Audit Report AV-2011-136 concerning the need to pursue and strengthen the oversight of Organization Designation Authorization (ODA) and Risk-Based Resource Targeting programs. At a minimum, the system had to be able to identify all ODA UMs and administrators who have been removed for performance reasons that constitute misconduct, verify their performance, and allow any FAA personnel (in AIR and AFS) to crosscheck names.
“It took some time to pick a collaborative topic that was important to us, as well as the right team members with the right background who could work together to come to a solution for this issue and develop an implementation plan,” said DiPaolo. “A fundamental part of the CWP is solving challenges important to both labor and management by empowering the professionals closest to that problem.”
During the April meeting, the group quickly realized that they could not fully deliver the best solution possible without including PASS, MIDO and PASS AFS. Therefore, the group worked together to identify which additional interests needed to be brought to the table, and Paskiewicz and DiPaolo worked to get those managers and representatives included in the next meeting during the week of June 5, 2012.
The ODA collaboration workgroup eventually included management designees from AIR-110, AIR-200 and AFS-600, plus labor representatives from NATCA AIR, PASS AFS and PASS MIDO. The session was facilitated by Colleen McKenna, AIR-6, and got some brief initial training from NATCA’s Miller and from Debbie Christianson, AHL-300 LR Specialist. Not only did the workgroup solve the problem they were assigned, but they also included an outline for implementing the solution, all within three days.
On September 12, 2012 the group scheduled a closeout meeting debriefing on their accomplishment for DiPaolo, Paskoewicz and AIR-1 Dorenda Baker. Some team members were present at AIR Headquarters in Washington, D.C., and others were present through telecomm and live video feed from the field. Beyond covering the steps they used to produce their solution, all agreed this process was a big improvement based on their previous experiences participating in workgroups.
When Miller asked what was so different about this problem solving method, PASS AFS Representative John Cox said it was a benefit to have a variety of individuals present.
"It's seldom that we can have people with different backgrounds in the same room, and be open and honest to try to draw out a solution together," said Cox. "And usually we're two or three steps removed in the communication chain and things get lost in translation. So having us all in one room really added some value and it definitely was an advantage."
ODA Manager and FAA Team Lead, Ralph Meyer, of AIR-110 said, "It was nice in contrast to some meetings I've participated in to have people in the room that could actually make decisions and didn't feel like they needed to check with somebody or check with their boss about what was going on"
"It's great to have everybody there so we can understand the person who has different concerns," NATCA Team Advocate Keith Ladderud said. "We were trying to understand John's needs and problems, for example, for quite some time, and how much he used the Designee Information Network (DIN) versus how much we used DIN. And it was, again, also good that nobody had to go check with some somebody else. It's a whole lot better communication face-to-face versus when you are on the telephone."
“The way we normally address something like this, it would’ve taken six months easy, maybe a year of back and forth," said Bufkin Fairchild, AIR-200. "We also made a whole list of things that need fixing that we want to try using this process on next. After this experience, I even look at my everyday job differently.”
Bufkin Fairchild and James Pratt
Paskiewicz and DiPaolo committed to the group to take their recommendations and pursue those in the next collaborative scoping effort. In addition, they are using the momentum of this workgroup’s success to train more AIR/NATCA leadership pairs in the field this fall. Sessions are planned in Fort Worth, Texas, Atlanta, Seattle, Los Angeles, and Washington, D.C.