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Tuesday, April 27, 2010

A Revolutionarily Traditional Way of Being Police in the 21st Century

Chip and I just returned from the 2010 International Law Enforcement Educators and Trainers Association (I.L.E.E.T.A.) annual conference. The experience was nothing short of amazing as we sat under the teaching of, and had lengthy conversations with, some of the top subject matter experts in various disciplines of law enforcement and training. We also had the opportunity to present some of the concepts captured in our book. Two contrasting themes developed as the week progressed. Many attendees were "blown away" by the innovative and progressive manner of our content. However, top tier trainers were quick to remind everyone that what Chip and I were presenting came from basic traditional concepts obscured by our current cultural milieu and organizational groupthink.
Chip and I strive to maintain humility so we can constantly learn; we firmly believe that as soon as we think we have it figured out, we become the problem. We consider multiple disciplines for learning opportunities. For example, Robert Peel’s timeless principles, western and eastern military philosophies of war and soldier traditions, Plato’s Republic, warrior traditions such as Bushido, studies on brain functionality, social research, theology, philosophy, quantum physics as opposed to Newtonian, rich leadership literature and thousands of conversations with hundreds of cops and people from many diverse backgrounds. We listen and consistently discover unifying themes running through all of this diversity. Through this, we have come to some startling conclusions that have unprecedented implications for policing in the 21st century. Our two core statements regarding personal anima and basic mission for policing have far-reaching implications that provide course correction for our profession’s most pressing problems. For example, let us take a brief look at the willingness and ability for policing organizations to be adaptive and responsive to our communities.
Our organizational cultures struggle to find coherence by maintaining rigid structures of status quo. Ironically, the process produces incoherence. Individuals and organizations intuitively set up a few silos of perspective that all incoming information must go into. For police institutions, the informational silos tend to be: 1) Who can we blame? 2) Why is it not our fault? 3) Who can we put in jail? Up and coming managers are in charge of ‘washing’ incoming information so that it streams neatly into one of the three silos. People who have the audacity to give corporate level leaders “unclean” information are despised and maligned. We do this in our struggle to maintain stasis or equilibrium. However, these desires are contrary to policing in complex societies. Exerting organizational effort to maintain an artificial stasis is wasted energy and drains both individuals and the organization of vitality and relevancy.
Ironically, adapting to challenges and ambiguity is what produces individual and organizational vitality and relevance. What allows organizations to endure are solid, ever improving processes that are dynamic, adaptive, and creative. These processes only exist, as responses to challenges and ambiguities in the environment.[1] Responses will naturally become community orientated rather than inwardly orientated - dictated by rigid internal structures of control. The tools our book provides such as the Environmental Pyramid and Rule of 30 combined with the High Core Values /Basic Mission Sight Alignment allows the members of your organization to be responsive, adaptive, and reflexive while still maintaining personal and organizational integrity along with essential organizational identity. By developing an ability to be truly aware and responsive to the operating environment, the organization can continue to become more effecient in the use of time and resources and act on behalf of the community much more effectively.

[1] Margaret J. Wheatley, Leadership and the New Science: Discovering Order in a Chaotic World. Berrett-Koehler. San Francisco.

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