Oregon Department of Human Services Director's message

April 11, 2008

To: All DHS employees   
From: Bruce Goldberg, M.D., director

“Don't let what you cannot do interfere with what you can do.”
~John Wooden

Last week I had the pleasure of visiting our St. Helens, Astoria and Tillamook offices, and of participating in several employee recognition events.
I thoroughly enjoyed meeting so many dedicated and caring DHS staff. They set an
excellent example for all of us that is worth noting. And, they’re the reason I wasGroup of people from Astoriainspired to add photos to this week’s message.
The employees in these offices are some of the many DHS staff who went well above and beyond their normal duties during this past winter’s heavy rains and floods to serve people in need. They surmounted situations that included office closures, lack of electricity, no computer connectivity, impassable roads and the flooding of their own homes. Despite all of these barriers, they were able to respond to the surge in people’s needs for social services.
How did they do this? That’s what was so impressive. They refused to be burdened by the way they’d “always done things.” They worked together and with many external partners to find creative ways to get things done.
As I listened to their stories about flood-related activities I was struck by how much can get done when everyone is focused on the goal of helping people in need and the usual constraints are set aside. I’m not saying all constraints are unimportant – certainly we must always do our jobs with ethics, safety and legal requirements in mind. However, as we are discovering through our Lean process reviews, many of our guidelines and procedures can benefit from some streamlining.

And that’s what many of our staff did during the floods – on the fly they streamlinedprocesses and cut out unnecessary delays in providing crucial services. Almost equally director and others at Tillamook cheese factoryimportant, they discovered what they were capable of accomplishing, and they built supportive and collaborative relationships with each other.
I sincerely hope this spirit of energy, creativity and collaboration will continue to be a part of their work during the months and years ahead. I also hope that other DHS offices will follow this fine example. We all would benefit by making this spirit a part of who we are and what we do every day.
And last, these stories of trying new things and reducing constraints have inspired me to try something new in this message. I, too, have been feeling constrained in my ability to share my thoughts with you while keeping my messages relatively short. So, in the spirit of a picture being worth a thousand words, here are a couple thousand words about my visit to Tillamook and Astoria. (And I apologize for not having any photos of St. Helens. I’ll try to do better next time.)