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  #61   Spotlight this post!  
Unread 12-01-2009, 12:56 PM
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Re: I Kept Quiet for far too long. This. Is. WAR!!!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Don Wright
I also know you know some key people here in Mi... and you can regularly find Gail's phone number posted all over the place on these forums. Did you even try calling her?
Yes, I talked with the number of key people that I know in MI, who either blew me off or didn't know anything. I don't know Gail, but what I do know is that I've been trying for the past month to contact the MI board for a discussion, and was told this weekend that the MI board pretty much told me to go to hell.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Andy Grady
Years ago I couldn't imagine FIRST without this board.
Today, I wonder if I should even promote this board to my kids at all.
Its a darn shame.
Maybe its time we should all get back to the basics...the joy of building something amazing with the people you care about.
When Dave started promoting CD at kickoff a few years back, I immediately knew it was a bad thing. CD has always had flareups of criticism and politics, and I knew that exposing the general FIRST public to these things without the benefit of historical context was going to lead to misunderstandings. I have never promoted the site to students because I agree with both Andy and Paul - it's our job as mentors to shelter our students from the politics that get in the way of inspiration. The part that will haunt me about blowing the whistle here is that after keeping this situation from them all year, my students are seeing this, which makes me angry that I was forced into this situation.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Paul Copioli View Post
FIRST HQ's job is not to inspire, it's our job as a mentor. We need to shield the students on our respective teams from the political mine field that is FIRST (and any large corporation).

I was never a student in FIRST, but pretty soon the majority of mentors will be former FIRST students (which will put me in the minority). I think that this year I may concentrate some of my WFA speeches at Regionals talking about how FIRST changes as you move from student to mentor as I fear Pavan Dave's sentiments are common among many former FRC students.
I think Paul is one of the best people to speak to this topic, since he watched me grow from a shy high school student to an influential mentor. When I started mentoring, I was still trying to recreate that "high" I felt when I had my first "inspired" moment. It took a solid three years for me to learn that my role as a mentor needed to change and I needed to be the inspiration for the next generation of students and stop looking to recreate the "good ol' days" of being a student. I have to thank Paul for being one of the mentors that had to whack me over the head with that reality, even if it took a few whacks. I think everyone should listen to what people like Paul and Ken have to say, even if like Ken said, they don't share your point of view.
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Unread 12-01-2009, 02:00 PM
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Re: I Kept Quiet for far too long. This. Is. WAR!!!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dan Swando View Post
I was forced into this situation.
You weren't forced into anything. You didn't get the job you wanted, you were offered a position that would allow you to stay involved and keep furthering the mission, and then you chose to air your dirty laundry here. I can't speak to whether your blacklisting was justified before, but by now it most certainly must be; I wouldn't want someone with such a demonstrated sense of entitlement holding a prominent position at my event.
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Unread 12-01-2009, 02:05 PM
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Re: I Kept Quiet for far too long. This. Is. WAR!!!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dan Swando View Post
The part that will haunt me about blowing the whistle here is that after keeping this situation from them all year, my students are seeing this, which makes me angry that I was forced into this situation.
It was a choice that you made, Dan - you weren't forced into this, even though you apparently feel that you were.

CD is a place where opportunities to network, interact, develop, learn, share, contribute, and build community can occur. It also has much untapped potential in many areas. Yes, it started as a form of bulletin board and has quite a history of growing over the years - just as FIRST has grown and the teams have grown. But, it still has a long way to go before it has maximized its potential to impact the future in a positive, refreshing, and community-based way, alongside all of the growing pains. I'm a firm believer in that.

Jane
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Last edited by JaneYoung : 12-01-2009 at 02:11 PM. Reason: word change
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Unread 12-01-2009, 08:56 PM
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Re: I Kept Quiet for far too long. This. Is. WAR!!!

Quote:
Originally Posted by JaneYoung View Post

CD is a place where opportunities to network, interact, develop, learn, share, contribute, and build community can occur. It also has much untapped potential in many areas. Yes, it started as a form of bulletin board and has quite a history of growing over the years - just as FIRST has grown and the teams have grown. But, it still has a long way to go before it has maximized its potential to impact the future in a positive, refreshing, and community-based way, alongside all of the growing pains. I'm a firm believer in that.

Jane
Thank you Jane for the great explanation.... I agree.
Over the many years of the History of this site - us old timers - do see change but we also see exciting growth in an organization (FIRST) that ranks in magnitude to very few others. Reaching out to the masses in an effort to change or alter a culture with a vision spawned by Dean Kamen is still to this day exciting to me. This website enjoins this vision celebrating the good and dealing with what may be viewed as the bad.

Dan...... frustrating as this all seems - and to you I am sure it is very frustrating... please keep a perspective on life that celebrates each and every moment of sharing your ideas, expertise with the most important.... the students. We shall NEVER see all the greatness that has resulted from FIRST and associated activities... but rest assured YOU HAVE MADE A DIFFERENCE!

I only have 1 piece of advice: When confronted with a situation you are not happy with take time and evaluate what has happened, what is an appropriate path and seek out to have a conversation one on one with persons you feel can listen to you and make a difference in your position. Yes, I would suggest that you contact Gail.... she is a great person, great leader and has a heart so large the world falls into it... please start with her and see where it leads.

Dan, consider me one of your friends.........

I say all this in public forum.... the Community of FIRST..... We share.
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Unread 12-01-2009, 09:13 PM
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Re: I Kept Quiet for far too long. This. Is. WAR!!!

Quote:
Vision

"To transform our culture by creating a world where science and technology are celebrated and where young people dream of becoming science and technology heroes."

Dean Kamen, Founder

Mission

Our mission is to inspire young people to be science and technology leaders, by engaging them in exciting mentor-based programs that build science, engineering and technology skills, that inspire innovation, and that foster well-rounded life capabilities including self-confidence, communication, and leadership.
Robotics is about people. It always was, it always will be. Our inability to communicate, graciously and professionally, compassionately and understandingly, remains the number one reason we are unable to put people first.

“Gracious Professionalism” is one of the major pillars of FIRST. It is the foundation for the culture we work so hard to create, and yet it was never once mentioned in a discussion of 63 posts. Not even once.

I’ve never written a post, a message, or a letter, where I am unable to sit down with my readers and talk about the exact same thing in person (yes, even the long ones, with notes...). We should always be able to sit down talk things through reasonably, logically, and professionally. And yet, how many in this thread can say the same thing? How many of you really tried to reach the person behind the sentences and the names? 14, by my count.

I spent some time reading the entire discuss, tallying the types of message posted in this thread (multiple messages within a post are counted individually). Here is what I found:

10 posts clarifying the issue and any potential misunderstanding
4 posts expressing willingness to explore both side of the story
15 posts of positive suggestions, constructive criticisms, positive encouragements, and acknowledgments of positive attitude
16 posts exploring important implications of said issue, analyzing the underlying issues of volunteer organization, addressing bigger pictures of FIRST in general, and moving the discussion to a whole different level.


I am highly encouraged by these responds made in a very difficult conversation.

Your clarifications and willingness to explore kept the discussion calm and kept us looking deeper below the surface. Your suggestions, encouragements, and acknowledgements provided positive outlets and alternative solutions to a very frustrated person in a very frustrating situation. Your intellectual curiosity kept us pushing for more: more honesty, more transparency, more understanding, more self-examining, and more progress.

Difficult situations will always be present in any given stages of our lives; we all have to learn to deal with them one way or another. Thanks to you and your attitude, this discussion has become a positive learning experience for Dan, and anyone participating in it or reading through it. I really, really appreciate it.

In many ways, you are the engine that keeps the CD forum running. Thank you so much for your message. I cannot repeat that enough.

5 posts expressing support toward the original post
8 posts questioning the effectiveness of the original post


I understand where many of you are coming from. I understand your wishes to defend your friend, and the integrity of this forum. In the end your heart is in the right place, but to some I wish you are more understanding, helpful, and willingness to address the needs of who seems like a very frustrated person. To others, I wish there is more tact, more grace, and more appreciation toward the art of communication and conflict resolution.

In the end, I favor resolving conflicts with charm, humility, and understanding, and disarming obstacles with guile, humor, and smile, over declarations and confrontations. I hope you do too.

6 posts expressing serious reservations toward volunteer organization as a whole, toward changes in the Chief Delphi Forum, and toward the growth of FIRST in general.
8 posts defending changes in all three areas.


Leadership is demonstrated by initiative, examples, and spirit. Decisions are made by those who show up. The world is whatever you make of it.

I hear your frustrations; I understand where they are coming from. But this is a changing world, and the world is changing faster by the minute. Don’t just sit idly by watching everything disappear; take it upon yourself to remember exactly what was good in the past, and work hard to incorporate it into the future. If you want to see something continue, you have to work really hard for it yourself.

The good news is, there is no limit to what a small group of well intentioned folks can do to create and facilitate changes in this world. So instead of talking about the good old past, I want to see planning for the future. Just like the 8 posts defending changes, right?


I am stretching the limit of what’s a reasonable amount to read in one sitting, so I will try to wrap it up. I want to write a personal message to Dan, but I am afraid it will have to wait until another evening. Here are the main questions I want to ask:

Where do we go from here? How are we going to turn this difficult, controversial discussion into a positive learning experience for everyone involved? How are we going to move on and create progress?

In addition:

There is no doubt there is much to be desired from the way FIRST organizes its volunteers. There is no doubt about it. So how are we going to discover, address, examine these issues in a healthy manner, and how are we going produce progress afterward?

There is no doubt there is a growing pain in FIRST. Again, there is no doubt about it. So when are we going to identify some of the positive aspects from the past, and begin incorporating them into the future?

There is also no doubt we need to work on our communication, communication on all levels, between volunteer and volunteer, between volunteer and regional coordinator, between region and headquarter, between headquarter and individuals. How can we improve communication on all levels?

And finally, how do we improve our ability to provide support to those who need them the most? How do we discover problems and provide support early, so we don’t have to resolve conflicts at this level of disagreement? And once we get to this level of disagreement, how do we handle it with charm, humility, and understanding; guile, humor, and smiles?


Dan, I have a lot to say to you, but I seem to have ran out of time this evening. For now, I will echo Ken Patton had to say to you earlier:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ken Patton View Post
(dangit Dan, that was extreme - its good that you have followed up in a more diplomatic fashion, keep trying).
I tell my kids everyday, whether in Lego classes or during FLL competitions, that we should work really hard to make it a positive experience for everybody, and not just yourself.

Woodie talks to us year after year about the importance of Gracious Professionalism, not just from other people, but also from yourself.

FIRST gave us the mission to inspire innovation, self-confidence, communication, and leadership in young people.

Robotics is about people. It always was, it always will be. What more guidelines do we need?

-Ken Leung

P.S. Thank you to the mentors who continue to show true quality, inspiration, and leadership through out the discussion. You continue to inspire me everyday. You know who you are.
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Last edited by Ken Leung : 12-02-2009 at 05:53 PM. Reason: Typo.
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Unread 12-01-2009, 10:50 PM
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Re: I Kept Quiet for far too long. This. Is. WAR!!!

After that post by Ken Leung, anything I write is bound to look obtuse and boring in comparison; then again, that could be said when comparing any of my posts to Kenís ...

I donít post much anymore because often by the time I get around to typing what I feel needs to be said, two or three people have already done so. It seems the opposite has happened in this thread. Amid all the rhetoric and attitude, it appears (to me, at least) that little discussion has occurred about the original claim.

Putting aside how one feels about Dan Swando, or his communicative style, there still remains his allegation of a secret black list of Michigan Volunteers. I suppose oneís response to this would be dependent on the perceived veracity of his assertion, or your feelings in favor or against said black list, but they would still be directed toward he claim.

After a letter requesting transparency was sent to FIRST a couple months back on behalf of FIRST teams, one would think that the idea of a secret volunteer black list would receive more attention than the title of the thread, no matter how inappropriate.
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Unread 12-01-2009, 10:56 PM
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Re: I Kept Quiet for far too long. This. Is. WAR!!!

Quote:
Originally Posted by jgannon
You weren't forced into anything. You didn't get the job you wanted, you were offered a position that would allow you to stay involved and keep furthering the mission, and then you chose to air your dirty laundry here. I can't speak to whether your blacklisting was justified before, but by now it most certainly must be; I wouldn't want someone with such a demonstrated sense of entitlement holding a prominent position at my event.
That seems a tad harsh. While I agree that Dan saying he was forced into this is a bit of a stretch I wouldn't say that this implies a sense of entitlement. I think that the main focus of Dan's irritation (and Dan correct me if I'm wrong) is not the idea that he isn't getting the job he wants, but that there is no reason given as to why.

I'll try another analogy. Think of Dan's scenario like someone getting back an English paper that is marked at a B, but with no comments written in by the teacher. Is the grade acceptable, sure, and I know that many would be very happy with it, under normal circumstances. With no remarks from the teacher however, it is easy to believe one would be rather indignant. How is one to understand or rectify his errors if he is not made aware of them? Additionally, if the teacher would then refuse to explain the grade after coming to her, would you indignation not increase further?

If you make the appropriate substitutions this can be used to understand Dan's scenario. Does the student in the above analogy possess a feeling of entitlement? Actually yes, not for a certain grade though, but merely for a reason behind the less than optimal turn of events. It is an expectation shared by almost everyone. Whenever something happens, be it in a science experiment, or in a relationship, or a disaster the inevitable things sought most isn't for the damage to disappear (we all accept that that won't happen), but for a reason so that we might grow from the experience

My $0.02
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Unread 12-01-2009, 11:39 PM
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Re: I Kept Quiet for far too long. This. Is. WAR!!!

I can almost side with both groups here.

I would agree that there is probably a good reason to keep certain people out of certain volunteer positions due to previous mistakes at those positions or similar ones. However, taking Dan's story at face value, he wasn't asking for a volunteer position that he'd had perceived trouble with in that past. In fact, he was asking for one that he was well-qualified for. He was given an alternate position, because the one he asked for was full. Then, at the last minute, he was told that his position was changed after he asked about a change that had been made without his knowledge. To me, if you change something, you tell the people that are affected right away. Don't make them ask you/find out at the last second; they tend to get rather annoyed. Trust me on this; I have some recent experience with this.

However, I do not agree with keeping the reason for the blacklist a secret when you've been asked by someone on the blacklist why he or she is on there. People can't read each others' minds very well. You tell them flatly that they are on because of X, they have a chance to explain X. Whether or not they do it to your satisfaction, you've had a chance to hear their side.

And, quite frankly, to restrict someone's volunteering to one and only one position is laughable. (Again, I'm taking Dan's statements at face value.) Where can you have no influence on a match? Safety assistant, Spare Parts attendant, Pit admin, gofer, awards assistant... Confining someone to a position that requires them to admit biases--well, if he wasn't biased before, he most likely is now!

(Caution: some speculation in the following, due to not knowing the full story) On the other hand, to look at it from the MI board's perspective: A ref made two mistakes against the same team, leading to their loss (perception). Naturally, you wouldn't want that ref reffing you again if you could avoid it. So you ask your VCs to keep him out of certain spots. A VC puts him in a more important spot. You don't want him there, because of your perception, so you have the VC move him behind his back. He asks questions. Later, you tell him to his face that he can't do a job that he's qualified for because you have someone else. Now he's asking you: "Why am I not allowed to volunteer at anything that I would like to do?" You choose not to answer, for whatever reason. He asks again. Again you don't answer. The next thing you know, he's sent the letter to FRC HQ. It isn't public knowledge, yet, but it could become public. [/speculation portion] And then he goes public, some time later. That's about the last straw.

Dan, by going public, you may have burned your last bridge with FiM. But if they did, in fact, tell you not to bother them, then they gave the tinder.


From what has been posted, I think that this type of blacklist is a very bad thing for FiM, and FRC if it is used elsewhere.
1) It's not gracious. I don't object to a blacklist, but at least tell people WHY they're on it if they ask!
2) No comment on professionalism; it could go either way.
3) It's too broad or too narrow in scope; that is, blocking out all positions except one is a bad idea. At least give a range, or block out ALL positions.
4) If, as is suggested, one team is behind this and able to impose a full ban, that is a bad thing. Just tell the head ref or appropriate official that you don't think that this guy can call you fairly, for crying out loud! That's enough to minimize the impact of any blown calls right there, most of the time.

Both sides are at fault; the FiM board for not being open enough to tell someone where they messed up and Dan for going public. That's the way it is in this case, I'm afraid. Like most anecdotes, you only get one side.


To fix this: If there are any FiM board members here, it would be a good idea to have a civil get-together with Dan, either by phone or by email or something of that sort if in-person meetings are impractical. Heck, make it a social event and go bowling or whatever Michiganders do during the winter. Figure out why he's on the blacklist, and tell him. That's half the issue, as it gives him a chance to explain and shape up, if he chooses. If you're blocking others out, tell them why as well. FIRST HQ is opening up a bit. Is there a reason FiM can't do the same when requested?

The other half of the issue is that it's given both of the affected parties a black eye. That one is the impossible half to fix without a lot of time and short memories.

I'm not saying that you completely ditch the blacklist. But, blocking people from one or two positions for cause is completely different from blocking people from most of the positions for something done in one position that may or may not be their fault.


Mr. Pockets, if that scenario happened at my school, I'd probably head for the department chair or the Dean of Students to see about the process for filing a complaint of not grading on academics but on personal prejudice. Dan went that route, because the FiM board has at least some oversight from FRC HQ.

Dan, if you're still in CA in March, I'm pretty sure you'll be welcome at the L.A. Regional.
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Unread 12-02-2009, 01:45 PM
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Re: I Kept Quiet for far too long. This. Is. WAR!!!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dan Swando View Post
And that is the great travesty that has occurred here. If the person being blacklisted has no idea of the reasons that they are being excluded (or the reasons are invalidated by the facts of the situation), and has no chance to rebut the accusations, then how can this be interpreted any other way than a witchhunt?

Since I am qualified to only speak for my own record, I will use myself as an example:
3 years FLL Announcer
6 years FRC Offseason DJ (Wrote the book on DJing as well)
5 years Regional Robot inspector
3 years offseason scorer, 1 year Regional Scorer
5 years team mentor
6 years Regional Referee, 3 years FRC Offseason Head Referee

In addition, the Head Referee at 95% of the regionals that I've reffed can vouch for my skill at refereeing. The FLL committee of the regional I announced can vouch for me. The committees of the offseasons that I've DJed can vouch for my excellent playlist skills (even if volume may be an issue. I'm working on that). Any head robot inspector can vouch for my inspecting abilities (Thanks Al!), and I have NEVER heard a criticism of any of my abilities in any of my positions that I didn't immediately remedy. If anything, I am my biggest critic in the positions I've been in. As for emotional control, I think that from January through Thanksgiving, I have maintained a level of dignified maturity that far surpasses what should be expected of someone in my situation.

The problem is that I REFUSE to be bullied like this. I had enough of bullying as a geek in High School and I refuse to be bullied by strangers that don't even know me. The fact that myself and others have been forced out of the roles that we have the most experience in without any regard for respect or explanation is a travesty that must be remedied. I and the others may go on and volunteer our services to regionals that still have respect for their volunteers that Michigan lacks, but it's a shame that the state that we call home would stoop to this level.
Qualified? Unqualified?....does it make a huge difference really? I've seen people do great work on their first day volunteering.

Moreover you are viewing this from an incredibly negative perspective. This is an opportunity, to focus on everything else in life. FIRST is something you do, not who you are. Don't try to define yourself through the rigors of FIRST. Who cares if 15 ppl in people in FiM don't like you, oh well, their loss of a qualified person.

Focus on your team, your students, this is not a bad thing but a point to step back and learn. Ask yourself how could you avoid this situation in the future. Maybe some of the 'bullying' is actually how some people are trying to help you see what they see when they look at your performance.

You gotta see this is a great opportunity, you didn't lose a job, money or anything really; nothing got hurt but your pride which I understand is frustrating. It is obvious you are generally hurt by all of this and seem a little sensitive which is understandable but you need to view the larger perspective.

Who would dare tell you directly that they question your abilities when you lash out publicly like this? Good Luck to you, I wish you the best.
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Unread 12-02-2009, 01:58 PM
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Re: I Kept Quiet for far too long. This. Is. WAR!!!

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Originally Posted by Stephen Kowski View Post
Who would dare tell you directly that they question your abilities when you lash out publicly like this? Good Luck to you, I wish you the best.
Your post makes me question whether you read the OP's statement carefully. If you look more closely, you will see that he has sat on this issue for a while. Specifically, he sent a letter "target individuals on 16 August, 2009" and the date of posting is November 28th. In other words, he's been trying to gain traction on the issue for months now with no luck.

I really can't comment on the story as I have no way of confirming anything, but if you take the basic facts of what Dan has said at face value - and if you don't, why would you even bother posting - he is not doing this just for his self-interest. He lists quite a few other people who are blacklisted, including a WFA winner. Again, I have no way of knowing if this is accurate, but it's not just about Dan - as he tells it anyway.

(Dan, I'm not trying to cast aspersions on your character - just that as many people have said, there can be two sides to any story and without knowing both, it would be jumping to conclusions to side with anyone. And that's how Milo got in trouble.)
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Unread 12-02-2009, 02:30 PM
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Re: I Kept Quiet for far too long. This. Is. WAR!!!

Quote:
Originally Posted by aaeamdar2 View Post
Your post makes me question whether you read the OP's statement carefully. If you look more closely, you will see that he has sat on this issue for a while. Specifically, he sent a letter "target individuals on 16 August, 2009" and the date of posting is November 28th. In other words, he's been trying to gain traction on the issue for months now with no luck.

I really can't comment on the story as I have no way of confirming anything, but if you take the basic facts of what Dan has said at face value - and if you don't, why would you even bother posting - he is not doing this just for his self-interest. He lists quite a few other people who are blacklisted, including a WFA winner. Again, I have no way of knowing if this is accurate, but it's not just about Dan - as he tells it anyway.

(Dan, I'm not trying to cast aspersions on your character - just that as many people have said, there can be two sides to any story and without knowing both, it would be jumping to conclusions to side with anyone. And that's how Milo got in trouble.)
I think you missed my overall point, who cares? Let them have their little fiefdom. There are a lot of other opportunities out there.

I can see why you do not understand why I bothered to post because it is obvious you missed the essence of my message. I am not analyzing that issue because you are correct I do not have all the facts. So whether the blacklist exists or doesn't, whether a WFA winner is on it or not, whether he volunteered as a MC, a Ref, or anything else is pointless to me.

My point is bigger than that. The inability of some to brush things off and move forward in a positive constructive way is disturbing to me. People need to be able to move forward whether they got what they wanted or not (myself included).

Last edited by Stephen Kowski : 12-02-2009 at 03:29 PM.
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Unread 12-02-2009, 02:44 PM
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Re: I Kept Quiet for far too long. This. Is. WAR!!!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Stephen Kowski
I can see why you do not understand why I bothered to post because it is obvious you missed the essence of my message. I am not analyzing that issue because you are correct I do not have all the facts. So whether the blacklist exists or doesn't, whether a WFA winner is on it or not, whether he volunteered as a MC, a Ref, or anything else is pointless to me.

My point is bigger than that. The inability of some to brush things off and move forward in a positive constructive way is disturbing to me. People need to be able to move forward whether they got what they wanted or not (myself included).
Understood, and too a point I'll agree with you. Being able to look beyond past issues is very important. However taking that optimism too far, and being unwilling to argue against something you believe to be wrong is also an undesirable extreme.

Keep in mind that the scenario being expressed by Dan affects more people than just him. As such, is it really a lack of ability to cope with a personal disappointment on his part, or more of a push to right something he considers a wide spread injustice. Dan alone knows the answer to that, but it's still something that people should consider.

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Unread 12-02-2009, 04:19 PM
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Re: I Kept Quiet for far too long. This. Is. WAR!!!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Stephen Kowski View Post
My point is bigger than that. The inability of some to brush things off and move forward in a positive constructive way is disturbing to me. People need to be able to move forward whether they got what they wanted or not (myself included).
I'm going to have to agree with Mr. Pockets on this. While the ability to brush things off and get on with life is a wonderful thing. There are times when it either isn't necessary and/or not very easily done.

In the scenario described by Mr. Swando, it does indeed affect more than one individual. And when a situation is effecting more than one it becomes harder to brush off, and less necessary. Enron for example.* Yet no one told them to brush it off. In Mr. Swando's case. I do not feel that he needs to get over it. Though in a sense, he already has.

-Rion

* I know it is a poor example. But I think you get my point.
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Unread 12-02-2009, 09:37 PM
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Re: I Kept Quiet for far too long. This. Is. WAR!!!

This represents my personal opinion, and only that.

One of the major guiding principles of FiM has been that the team is the customer and it is their experience that is paramount. Whether the staff is volunteer or not, teams are paying not only in money, but also through hard work, endless hours and emotions spent over the course of the season and they deserve the best possible event experience.

To that end a list of the positions at an event that have the biggest impact on the event experience were identified and labeled as key volunteer positions. The staffing of these positions was opened up to a larger group for discussion. When an individualís qualifications were unknown additional information was sought from people who better knew the individual. This process would seem less disposed to abuse than an individual making the decisions alone.

FiM is not a gang of malicious, self interested, power hungry people. It is, much like the rest of the FIRST world, filled with people who are passionate about this program and who are working extremely hard to further its success. Certainly mistakes are made, and these mistakes should and will be, addressed. Yet there is no reason, however great the temptation, to demonize the other side and assume they are operating with nefarious goals.

Iím sorry you had a bad experience trying to secure the volunteer position you wanted, but staffing decisions were not based on personal bias against any individual. There is no black list and, as fun an idea as it might be, there is no conspiracy.
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Unread 12-02-2009, 10:19 PM
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Re: I Kept Quiet for far too long. This. Is. WAR!!!

Therein lies the issue. Dan's qualifications are known in MI, especially given that list he gave of his experience. Therefore, the FiM board would have known about them. They chose to do the following, if you take Dan's statements at face value:

1) Choose not to put him in a position he was qualified for, and volunteered for, instead offering him another.

--If there was another qualified individual, this is not an issue.

2) For no apparent reason, and more importantly without telling him, change the second assignment to another one.

--This is and isn't an issue. It isn't if there was a more qualified individual. It is because they didn't tell him when the change was made. FTA involves travel to New Hampshire in February. That's going to cost you, especially if you have to cancel it in mid-late January.

3) When he requested a reason for 2) above, tell him nothing. And, when requested by a VC to do a job he was qualified for, an FiM board member said they had someone, apparently rather rudely.

--If you do have someone, fine. But at least be gracious.

4) After further requests for reasons, tell nothing.

--I don't know about you, but if I am qualified for a position and I don't get it, for no reason specified, I'm going to be confused and hurt. I don't care if the reason is the generic rejection letter that "we're going with someone else". ANY reason is better than none.

5) After a letter is sent to FRC HQ, and various others in MI, repeat 4).

6) Allow said individual to volunteer again, but fail to contact regarding position when it can be a fairly vital one, even to say, "No, thanks."

--Again, even letting him know that you don't want him in that position is better than nothing.

7) After the letter in 5) is made public, effectively tell the individual to get out of there.

--This is the only one that I can understand. Sometimes, if you can't solve a problem and others are getting wind of it, and it's that bad of an issue, you sometimes have to agree to disagree, which can involve one or more leaving, under their own power or not.

In short, FiM made one comparatively small mistake--not telling the volunteer that there had been a change. They compounded it by not responding with even a dummy reason that he wasn't told, and becoming somewhat ungracious. As I said before, if they'd just talk with Dan about the reason, a lot of issues could be solved.


By the way, I would be interested in hearing the other side of the story, if it is deemed appropriate by the FiM board to release it. I like to try to get both sides of any given story, if it's involving accusations, direct or indirect, and if both sides post it publicly.


Remember when the FiM idea was first released? Then and later, during the assessment of the first year, several people brought up that they didn't really have anything against it, except the secrecy that had shrouded the starting*. When you have something that you'd expect to be somewhat open be kind of secretive, it raises questions. Questions want answers. In fact, FRC was asked to be a little more open not too long ago, and about 4 of the mentors to sign the letter are from MI teams. Perhaps that same letter should be sent to the FiM board.

*The point system was also brought up, but that isn't relevant here.
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