Page 53 - Foreign Service Journal - September 2013

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it again. We are not cogs in a machine but drivers of the
machine, and it is incumbent upon each employee to ensure
to the extent possible that the actions of the organization
are consistent with its values, which reflect the values of the
country we represent.
What was the impact of the dissent award on your
Well, it certainly affirmed for me that I was working within
an organization that valued my input, and welcomed var-
ied perspectives. That is perhaps the single largest driver of
morale, and the more that we can do to affirm that for our
“[My dissent] certainly afrmed for me that
I was working within an organization
that valued my input, and welcomed
varied perspectives.”
–Dean Kaplan
colleagues, the healthier and more value-aligned we will be as
an organization.
In hindsight, was dissenting the right choice?
Yes, constructive dissent was without a doubt the right
choice. I had to stand by my values, and the values I perceived
in the larger organization, and try to drive policy in that
direction. In my specific case, our policy was unintentionally
inconsistent, but that kind of inconsistency can really under-
mine our message. Moreover, it was a classic “ends justifying
the mean” situation—and they don’t.
How we do what we do is just as important as what we do,
if not more so. Nevertheless, dissent never means undermin-
ing the organization or the decision, even when it goes in
what you perceive to be the wrong direction.
Dean Kaplan joined the Foreign Service in 2000 and has served in
Abuja, Kathmandu, Jerusalem and in the State Department’s Of-
fice of Global Criminal Justice. He is currently the deputy director
in the Visa Office’s Office of Information Management and Liaison.