Organizational Characteristics that Contribute to Success in by ert634

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									        Organizational Characteristics that
    Contribute to Success in Engaging the Public
      to Accomplish Fuels Management at the
      Wilderness/Non-Wilderness Interface

                        Katie Knotek
                        Alan Watson
                     USDA Forest Service
          Aldo Leopold Wilderness Research Institute




Katie Knotek is a Research Associate in Social Science with the Aldo Leopold
Wilderness Research Institute, Rocky Mountain Research Station, USDA Forest
Service. Alan Watson is the Research Social Scientist with the Aldo Leopold
Wilderness Research Institute, Rocky Mountain Research Station, USDA Forest
Service.
Funding for this research was provided by the National Fire Plan, as well as the
Bitterroot Ecosystem Management Research Project and the Aldo Leopold
Wilderness Research Institute, Rocky Mountain Research Station, USDA Forest
Service. The research was conducted in cooperation with the Rocky Mountain
Ranger District of the Lewis and Clark National Forest.
This presentation was given at the “1st Fire Behavior and Fuels Conference:
Fuels Management – How to Measure Success,” March 28-30, 2006, Portland,
OR.




                                                                                   1
                            Introduction

     Current context of fuels management
     signifies need for increased public outreach

     Public must be informed about and engaged
     in decisions concerning fuels management

     How can we be successful in engaging the
     public to accomplish fuels management?



Recently there has been greater awareness that the urgent, complex and
   oftentimes contentious nature of fuels management signifies a need for
   increased public outreach by fire management organizations.
Even our national initiatives on fire and fuels management, such as the National
   Fire Plan and the Healthy Forests Initiative, emphasize the need for the
   public to not only be informed about, but also engaged in decisions
   concerning fuels management.
This points to the question, “How can we be successful in engaging the public
   to accomplish fuels management?”
In this presentation, research is presented suggesting a specific set of
    organizational characteristics that may contribute to successful public
    engagement.




                                                                                   2
                   Learning From
            High Reliability Organizations

     A “high reliability organization” is successful
     when working in a high-risk situation

     Performance is attributed to managing with
     “mindfulness” (a focused state of attention)

     Recent application of “mindfulness” to
     wildland fire use and prescribed fire operations



Weick and Sutcliffe (University of Michigan Business School) have conducted
  research to understand how some organizations that work in high-risk
  situations are successful, often experiencing few mishaps, like in wildland
  firefighting, nuclear aircraft carriers, air traffic control systems, and
  emergency medical treatment.
Weick and Sutcliffe refer to these organizations as high reliability organizations
  and attribute their performance to managing with mindfulness, or a
  particular focused state of attention.
There is a lot that fire and fuels management can learn from these organizations
   and the benefits of managing with mindfulness. For example, there has
   recently been a move to increase awareness and adoption of mindfulness
   processes exhibited by high reliability organizations to better implement
   wildland fire use and prescribed fire operations. Two national interagency
   workshops have been held (Sante Fe, NM 2004; Jacksonville, FL 2005)
   focusing on this application of the concept of mindfulness, and a third
   workshop, hosted by Forest Service Region 1, will be held in May 2006 in
   Missoula (Contact the Lessons Learned Center for more information about
   these workshops).




                                                                                     3
                Application of “Mindfulness”
                     to Public Outreach
       Apply concept of
       “mindfulness” to public
       outreach

       Managing public outreach
       can be described as
       high-risk

       “Mindfulness” may help
       mitigate risks and more
       successfully engage the
       public in fuels management


It may also be beneficial for fire management organizations to apply the
    concept of mindfulness to public outreach.
Just as managing a fire or fuels operations can be described as high-risk,
    managing public outreach can also be characterized as high-risk, often
    involving contentious public meetings, withdrawal of key publics from
    participation, harassment of personnel within the organization, negative
    editorial or opinion pieces in reference to the organization, and litigation.
Application of the concept of mindfulness to public outreach might just be what
   is needed to better enable fire management organizations to mitigate social
   risks and more successfully engage the public in fuels management.




                                                                                    4
                              Case Study

     Apply “mindfulness” to public outreach for a
     specific fuels management project
      – Use framework of mindfulness processes to
        guide analysis of public outreach
      – Provide a framework to guide fire management
        organizations in engaging the public to accomplish
        fuels management




In this research, a case study was conducted applying the concept of
    mindfulness to public outreach for a specific fuels management project.
Objectives were to use a framework of mindfulness processes, or organizational
   characteristics, to guide analysis of a fire management organization’s public
   outreach during the planning and implementation of a specific fuels
   operation, and in turn provide a framework that could help guide all fire
   management organizations in engaging the public to accomplish fuels
   management.
This specific case focused on the Forest Service as a fire management
   organization and the South Fork of the Sun River Prescribed Burn in
   Montana as a specific fuels operation.




                                                                                   5
               South Fork of the Sun River
                    Prescribed Burn

       Prescribed burn initiated inside and along
       wilderness boundary

       Wilderness/non-wilderness interface

       Indicated application of “mindfulness” to
       public outreach is appropriate and important




The first phase of the South Fork of the Sun River Prescribed Burn was
initiated, in the fall of 2003, by the Rocky Mountain Ranger District of the
Lewis and Clark National Forest. The burn is being conducted inside and along
the boundary of the Scapegoat Wilderness.
One purpose of the burn is to make the non-wilderness side of the wilderness
boundary more defensible from wildfire, because the Scapegoat Wilderness
interfaces with both public and private lands, including roadless areas, ranches,
outfitter/guide operations and recreational residences.
The complexity of use in this interface area indicated both the appropriateness
and importance of the application of mindfulness to public outreach for this
particular fuels operation.




                                                                                    6
                                Methods

      Case study research design
      Qualitative methods
       – In-depth interviews
         (Winter and Spring 2005)
       – Sample of agency personnel
         and non-agency public representatives
       – Analysis of interview transcripts



As mentioned, a case study research design and qualitative methods were used
   to facilitate the research.
Specifically, in-depth interviews were conducted (winter and spring 2005) with
   agency personnel on the Lewis and Clark National Forest and non-agency
   public representatives from local communities.
A framework of mindfulness processes along with a qualitative data analysis
    program were used to guide analysis of the interview transcripts, which
    focused specifically on agency and public perceptions of the Forest
    Service’s public outreach for the prescribed burn.




                                                                                 7
                       Framework of
                   Mindfulness Processes
     1) Recognizing potential barriers to
        accomplishment of management objectives
     2) Resisting simplification of information or
        interpretations
     3) Ensuring situational awareness of events as they
        occur
     4) Being prepared to respond to and recover from
        unexpected events
     5) Calling upon appropriate expertise in decision-
        making and management efforts


The framework of mindfulness processes that was used in analysis was adapted
   from Weick and Sutcliffe’s research on high reliability organizations, which
   indicates there are five central processes or organizational characteristics
   that produce mindfulness . . .
Each of these processes are described in detail on the following slides, as
   examples of interview excerpts from the analysis are presented in order to
   demonstrate how the concept of mindfulness can be applied to the Forest
   Service’s public outreach efforts for the South Fork of the Sun River
   Prescribed Burn.




                                                                                  8
                      Recognizing Barriers to
                        Accomplishment of
                      Management Objectives

     “But from my perspective, I thought what they did
     worked well, partly because they did it in advance. A lot
     of times people say, and this was a big criticism during
     the Canyon Creek Fire, we just didn’t know what was
     coming … Like you said, this started in ’97. It happened
     in 2003. That’s a long time and a lot of comment before
     the actual trees started to burn.”
     (Public Representative)




The first mindfulness process, recognizing barriers to accomplishment of
   management objectives, means being consistently mindful of potential
   operational failures or mistakes. Practicing this process makes it possible for
   an organization to identify and mitigate small barriers, that, if ignored, could
   complicate their objectives.
This interview excerpt from a local community member is one example of how
   this mindfulness process applies to a particular aspect of the Forest
   Service’s public outreach for the prescribed burn.
(Read Quote)
In conducting early outreach, it seems the Forest Service recognized and
    mitigated a potential barrier to their public outreach objectives, namely the
    public being uninformed or “blindsided” by the agency’s intentions.




                                                                                      9
                 Resisting Simplification of
               Information or Interpretations

    “… we have all these checks in process to be as safe as
    possible. And sometimes things are going to go south on us
    … The fire could get out of our control, and we know that …
    put that on the table early on in the process, not in terms
    of sugar coating … (the District Ranger) did a good job of
                                              take-
    that. (He) was very real … that’s a good take-home message
    for other people, other units, other agencies. Sometimes
    we’re not very good about talking about the real risks.”
    (Agency Representative)




The second mindfulness process, resisting simplification of information or
   interpretations, means intentionally simplifying less and seeking ways to
   perceive and discern more about a management situation. This allows an
   organization to create a more holistic, detailed understanding of the context
   they are working within.
An interview excerpt from a Forest Service employee that was interviewed
   provides an example of how this mindfulness process applies to a certain
   aspect of the agency’s public outreach..
(Read Quote)
In communicating directly with the public about the risks associated with the
    prescribed burn, the Forest Service seemed to have resisted simplification of
    a particular aspect of information related to public outreach.




                                                                                    10
               Ensuring Situational Awareness
                  of Events as They Occur


     “… (the District Ranger) was very proactive in getting
     community involvement … he developed a PowerPoint and
     he went around to various organizations. He talked to his
     county commissioners … He briefed the governor’s staff
                                               call-
     … He talked to TV stations. He did radio call-in interviews
     with KGPR and the local station that’s in Augusta, KMON.”
     (Agency Representative)




The third mindfulness process, ensuring situational awareness of events as they
   occur, means focusing attention on the front line of an operation and being
   aware of both planned and unexpected events. By paying attention to events
   as they unfold, an organization is more able to reduce uncertainty and make
   operational adjustments as needed.
Another interview excerpt from a Forest Service employee that was interviewed
   provides an example of how this mindfulness process relates to the agency’s
   public outreach.
(Read Quote)
In providing briefings to key segments of the public, such as county
    commissioners, the governor’s staff, and the media prior to implementation
    of the burn, it seems the Forest Service was acting to ensure situational
    awareness in managing public outreach.




                                                                                  11
               Being Prepared to Respond to and
               Recover from Unexpected Events


      “And when the burning window opened up it was the
      same week we had scheduled … the Forest Supervisor
      and the Forest Planner and (Public Affairs Officer)
      were flying out to Washington, D.C. because we had
      briefings with our senators and congressmen … so we
      had to call in other people. And (an employee) from the
      regional office came over …”
      (Agency Representative)




The fourth mindfulness process, being prepared to respond to and recover from
   unexpected events, means moving beyond a simple anticipation of the
   unexpected to a greater focus on how, once an event occurs, it can be
   managed. This resiliency enables an organization to function responsively
   and facilitate management even when faced with operational obstacles.
This interview excerpt, again from a Forest Service employee, provides an
   example of this mindfulness process as it applies to another aspect of the
   agency’s public outreach.
(Read Quote)
In finding a qualified replacement for the Forest Public Affairs Officer, which
    happened to be an employee within the region who had experience in both
    public relations and fire, the Forest Service seemed prepared to respond this
    unexpected event, as well as others that may have arisen.




                                                                                    12
            Calling Upon Expertise in Decision-
             Making and Management Efforts

    “I think that they demonstrated to people that the local
    Forest Service personnel … were local faces that were
    well-
    well-known that were going to be connected to this burn
    and that they were very credible and responsible and
    accountable. And I think people sensed that, that there
    was going to be an enormous amount of local accountability
    … it wasn’t going to be some nameless face for a federal
    project.”
    (Public Representative)




The final mindfulness process, calling upon appropriate expertise in decision-
   making and management efforts, means personnel with the most expertise,
   regardless of their position within the organization, are utilized. This does
   not preclude the fact that certain decisions must be made and operations led
   by personnel in specific positions.
Another interview excerpt from a local community member shows how this
   mindfulness process relates to a unique aspect of the agency’s public
   outreach.
(Read Quote)
In utilizing local employees on the Rocky Mountain Ranger District, people
    well known in the local communities, like the District Ranger and the Fire
    Management Officer, the Forest Service seemed to have called upon
    appropriate expertise in their decision-making and management efforts for
    this particular prescribed burn.




                                                                                   13
                               Conclusions

       The concept of “mindfulness” can be applied
       to public outreach for fuels management
        – Possible to identify and describe public
          outreach efforts according to framework of
          mindfulness processes
        – Application of the concept of “mindfulness”
          seems effective in guiding analysis




In conclusion, this presentation provides a very brief overview of how the
    concept of mindfulness can be applied to public outreach for fuels
    management.
As shown, it is possible to identify and describe an organization’s public
   outreach efforts according to a framework of the five central mindfulness
   processes, or organizational characteristics, exhibited by high reliability
   organizations.
Thus, application of the concept of mindfulness seems to be effective at least in
   guiding analysis of public outreach conducted by a fire management
   organization. The usefulness and effectiveness of this application as a
   management tool to help guide fire management organizations in
   conducting public outreach and engaging the public in fuels management
   will have to be determined by managers themselves.




                                                                                    14
                Management Application

       Use framework of mindfulness processes as
       a “checklist” to evaluate public outreach
        – Brainstorm public outreach efforts
        – Incrementally assess individual and group
          behavior in public outreach
        – Evaluate and learn from management efforts




In thinking about how this application might be useful as a management tool, it
    is possible that fire management organizations could use the framework of
    mindfulness processes as sort of a “checklist” before, during, and following
    their public outreach efforts.
For example, they could use the framework as a brainstorming tool when
   planning public outreach efforts. They could proactively think about how
   they might be mindful of potential barriers to accomplishment of their
   management objectives.
They could also use the framework while they are actively conducting public
   outreach to incrementally assess individual and group behavior in managing
   public outreach. They might critique their efforts to resist simplification of
   information or interpretations or to ensure situational awareness while
   conducting public outreach.
Finally, they could use the framework following public outreach efforts to
   evaluate and learn from their efforts in a fashion similar to an After-Action
   Review.
Using this framework of mindfulness processes in these ways would likely help
   to improve understanding and practice of organizational characteristics that
   contribute to success in engaging the public to accomplish fuels
   management.




                                                                                    15
                       Katie Knotek
        Aldo Leopold Wilderness Research Institute
                    kknotek@fs.fed.us




Please contact Katie Knotek at the Aldo Leopold Wilderness Research Institute
with questions regarding this research.




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