Wildland Fire Deep Dive Project

The Deep Dive project is a centerpiece of a learning pilot program collaboratively initiated by WEPO’s, Policy, Accountability and Analysis and RMRS’s Office of Innovation and Organizational Learning (IOL) to build organizational learning capacity with specific focus on gender harassment and discrimination in the USDA Forest Service. Agency, academic and industry consultant social scientists with backgrounds in operational fire, gender, inclusion, culture, communications, and organizational learning are collaborating to lead this initiative. The intent of the Deep Dive is to inquire into the lived experiences of wildland firefighters as it relates to harassment and discrimination in everyday work experiences, with the purpose of understanding and transforming systemic organizational cultural norms toward an inclusive, high performing workplace. This inquiry utilizes an action research approach, utilizing a program called ThoughtExchange in which respondents provide their thoughts to an open-ended question and rate the thoughts of other respondents. ThoughtExchange uses an algorithm to ensure every thought is seen and ranked an equal number of times. The team of scientists analyze the data through a critical feminist and appreciative inquiry lens to identify collaborative approaches to problem solving in organizations. Findings from each ThoughtExchange are shared with respondents and compared to relevant academic literature. Findings and analysis will be presented to focus groups to vet and to develop action steps to be piloted during the 2023 field season.