Friday, June 26, 2009

Learning from Tragedy - Really

When anything goes wrong, it creates a unique opportunity to detect flaws covertly embedded in the various environments of an organization. This is because law enforcement tends to be reactive (rather than proactive) and outcome focused (rather than process focused). That is to say, unless something goes wrong to the point of costing the organization something, “No harm—no foul.” In other words, if I typically talk to others in a rude and condescending manner, as long as no complaints are substantiated, and no law suits are harmfully adjudicated - the behavior tends to be ignored. The problem with ignoring destructive attitudes and behaviors is this: whatever you don’t address, you encourage. Unaddressed behavior becomes a psychological and social contract with much more influence than the organization’s stated policies that are not uniformly enforced. If someone is rude and condescending and it is not addressed, it actually becomes a flaw in the social environment of the organization and creates a link to a potential catastrophe. Doing an environmental system root-cause analysis evaluation does not imply that officers have no personal accountability for their behaviors. On the contrary, if one of the problems lie in the anima (integrity) of the individual, this individual must be invested in, in terms of mentoring, training, and support; then, if or when called for, dealt with decisively and be graciously allowed to find a profession that does not demand high character (as does law enforcement)! This is a critical issue! Here is my experience: often, when commanders hear of a root cause or environmental analysis process, they hear, “Oh, you are making excuses for the officer—you are helping them to avoid personal accountability.” Nothing could be further from the truth. Identifying systemic problems and self-deceptions embedded into the organization is all about accountability! Someone IS accountable for systemic failure at each level, and that is exactly what commanders do not want exposed. If your organization is unwilling to put the performance and decision making of all members up for scrutiny, you might as well click this blog off, and cease to waste your time. If you want to know how to really learn from tragedy and create enduring proactive systems to avert future tragedies, post a response and stay tuned – see how to unleash the power of unconditional respect!


  1. Chip/Jack
    Congrats on getting closer to finishing your book. I have been following your progress through Chip and have been extremley impressed with your work. Although I'm not in Law Enforcement any longer, I believe much of your book will help a wide variety of people deal with daily situations. Thanks, Pat

  2. Thanks Pat for taking the time to post. It was good to hear from you.

  3. Chip & Jack
    Keep up the good work. I know how important this is to the both of you. You are both doing a courageous and honorable thing. Stay dedicated, you both know the right thing is not always the easiest. You have my support.