Marriott Alumni Magazine

Spring Summer 1977 Exchange

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Preparing the Path to Washington Anyone who has juggled his or her time, rationale, and patience in an in-basket exercise knows that it is no "reasonable" task. Memos, reports, and letters demand immediate decisions regarding such things as impending strikes, media investigations, conflict-of-interest policies, minority hiring, etc. When cross-examined as to their judgment, more than a few individuals have produced Swiss cheese (i.e., full of holes) logic. It isn't any easier if you are a Master of Public Administration student faced with the piled-up crises of a city manager. With the help of public sector professionals and organizational behavior graduate students, the second-year MPA students spent three days moving through exercises aimed at evaluating their skills in areas such as leadership, planning, communications, decision making, delegation, and response to changing conditions. The annual MPA Assessment Center was directed by Dee W. Henderson, professor in the Institute of Government Service. Other participants ranged from the executive director of the Public Service Commission to the city manager of Sherman, Texas. The organizational behavior students had previously been involved in studying life stages, career planning, and interpersonal dynamics. The O.B. students worked in pairs with the professionals during the interviews, exercises, and feedback sessions. "Through the assessment program, MPA students acquire a feel for the stress and pressures of work situations and receive candid evaluations,'' said Dr. Henderson. “Students are then able to analyze their own weaknesses and identify areas to strengthen in order to be more effective managers." One exercise called for each MPA student to present a proposal to the "city council" (five other students) on county land use. Each of the six "councilmen" and "councilwomen" in turn advocated a project such as an industrial park, hotel/convention center, or hospital. The council then debated the plans and voted. This "leaderless discussion" helped assessors evaluate reasoning, ability to influence, oral presentation, and perception, among other skills. The ensuing feedback session was geared to helping students recognize their impact on others. Watergate••From the Bottom Up "Bob Woodward and I have become the subject of a great deal of mythology,'' said Carl Bernstein during a visit to BYU. Watergate's leading investigative journalists "employed the most basic, empirical police reporting techniques-the kind taught students in beg inning reporting classes." He added, "All we really have in this business is our credibility. The public is much smarter than either politicians or the press give them credit for. They know when they are being taken for a ride. "Journalists, in general, are sensitive to criticism. I don't know a good one who isn't, particularly when it comes to how well he does his job." In covering Watergate he explained, "We worked from the bottom up. We initially talked to clerks, secretaries, chauffeurs, administrative assistants, and low-level employees. This method was diametrically opposed to that of the FBI. "The FBI made what they called 'a presumption of regularity' about the conduct of men in and around the White House. We made no such presumption. Neither were we predisposed to think that the opposite was the case. We just wanted to see where the facts would take us." Orem, Utah, City Manager Al Haines Carl Bernstein

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