"Organizations by their very nature involves a series of balances...

Matin van Creveld …Among other things, a balance must be struck between the need for control from above and for initiative from bellow; between headquarters desire to employ available resources where most needed and the need to have them locally at hand; and between headquarters wish to set policy on one hand while avoiding excessive detail on the other. Overlapping responsibilities must be avoided, and authority must be firmly and clearly divided. Above all, an organization should ever keep in mind the purpose for which it was created; this involves striking a balance between productive (output-related) and administrative (function-related) tasks, the latter to be adequate but limited to the minimum possible. Under no circumstances should function-related tasks be allowed to equal, much less exceed, the output-related ones in importance. This should be reflected in the organizations doctrine (my emphasis added) and structure. Insofar as they make for efficiency, the cultural virtues of any organization are simplicity, consistency and interchangeability of parts. Human beings, however, resent being handled like so many uniform, interchangeable building blocks; if the organization of which they form parts is to be at all cohesive, the differences between individuals as well as their social and psychological needs should be taken into account.” ~Martin van Creveld, Fighting Power,(1974)


Scott Shipman my good friend and the purveyor of “To Be or To Do” started an interesting offline discussion on the topic of  “insight, " the ability to peer into and discern the inner nature or workings of things." 

“In my estimation, for insight to be actionable requires of the operating environment (culture): clarity and credibility. Thus, insight presupposes the ability of the one doing the insighting (new word) to determine the quality/validity of said clarity and credibility. Clarity and credibility will vary from person to person in the macro because we're all different, and Insight presupposes a tacit base of knowledge. Our fluency in that body of knowledge will determine the quality of our insight. (I'm really big on fluency these days.) Fred, your training is aimed in no small part on fluency in police operations, where even in the haze of a chaotic life-death encounter, the officer has the fluency of thought (insight) to make good choices. He does this by relying on his inventory of tactic knowledge (based on training/previous experiences).”  ~Scott Shipman

I believe a lot of the problems we see and experience in law enforcement organizations stems from, the lack of clarity and credibility as Scott Shipman describes. There is a lot of mixed messages and role confusion throughout our ranks, and our law enforcement culture sends out mixed messages as well. Go out, get out of your patrol cars and engage the public on the one hand is the message and then on the other hand, why are you in the mall, the coffee shop, the bar, the local Wall-Mart, neighborhood streets etc. Go out and conduct your walk and talks and security checks but we are not going to count them as activity. Go out and arrest the bad guys, and then, why did you bring him in? Use the summons process for your less serious crimes, then why didn’t you lock him up? We need more motor vehicle stops and citation production is one message and then why did you stop that person for such a minor infraction? We could go on an on here and I am sure you have your own examples of role confusion. Where is the clarity and credibility?  Without out clarity and credibility how are we to be effective?

Scott Shipman added an important observation:

Here is where Insight becomes vital; we believe what we see---and it operates on dichotomous scale:

1. Absolute clarity that if you disagree with your boss, you'll get your ass chewed, maybe fired---with credibility being assigned by having "seen" living example of the phemon. (Emotion of this clarity of insight, fear and staying out of the target line of fire, as it were.)

2. Absolute clarity that principled and informed opposition to your boss will be rewarded---even if you happen to be wrong----once again, with credibility being weighed by previous living examples. (Emotion, dignity/satisfaction that you are allowed/expected/encouraged to contribute.

How many know what the mission and intent of the law enforcement profession is? How many of us know exactly what is expected of us when we hit the streets? Is it enforcement or building community trust? Can you do both simultaneously and effectively? if so how?The purpose of an law enforcement organization is to deploy available human and material resources in order to produce the greatest possible effectiveness in solving police related problems. If you are a leader in this profession which example of clarity are you demonstrating in an effort to meet our purpose? Are you sure?

I was just reminded in a Brian Willis Newsletter of what Carol Dweck describes in her book Mindset: The New Psychology of Success as the Fixed Mindset versus the Growth Mindset. A fixed mindset is one in which you view your talents and abilities as set in stone. You believe your intelligence and talents are fixed, and your fate is to go through life avoiding challenge and failure. A growth mindset, on the other hand, is one in which you view yourself as a work in progress. Your future therefore, is one of growth and opportunity. How many fixed mindsets do we see daily verses growth mindsets in our profession? In my view fixed mindsets are 80-90% and I do not feel I am exaggerating!!!

Scott reminded me of a great quote, I think would be a fitting end to this post:

"Man has also become an architect of his environment, but he does not command forces as powerful as those of nature. His method has been selective and probing: an intellectual approach in which action depends on understanding."  ~Jacob Bronowski

Stay Oriented!