Edward Brown, M.S.
The police profession can be conservative. Although, police leaders have to juggle the competing interests of constituents, leaders can use innovation to become more effective. It has been said that the higher one goes up the police hierarchy, the less accountability there is. In other words, you cannot force police leaders to consider new ways of doing things unless they view change as aligning with their self-interest. In keeping with this notion, police leaders who have climbed to the top of their organization should consider their legacy and how history will view their contributions to their department as well as the profession. Are you satisfied with mediocrity? Before police leaders can speak persuasively, they must first formulate compelling ideas through advanced critical thinking skills.
Police leaders, as transformational leaders, use their insatiable curiosity and ability to spot departmental inefficiencies to innovate services. But, what is innovation? Innovation is simply the foundation of new beginnings. In short, looking at old traditions through new lenses. Through innovation, you can discover new ideas, learn new techniques, offer better quality, and even help personnel increase productivity. However, what many police leaders do not realize is that innovation can be used to help move their department to the next level. “Next level” sounds cliché, but the mission is really to focus on the ability to think about a police department as a living organism and feeding it the proper nutrients to grow. Corporations are always borrowing ideas from other industries to improve productivity and profitability, which is part of their DNA. Police departments shouldn’t be any different.
Police leaders can use critical thinking to innovate and transform their departments in several ways. It can be as simple as having access to the right information so that they know what the latest and greatest schools of thought are. Taken from the IBAR Critical Thinking Method, formulated by Edward Brown, this is called “Benchmarking.” In benchmarking, you compare and contrast your departmental operations to industry leaders, standards, or best practices. By comparing departmental operations with these standards, leaders are able to select the options best suited for their usage.
Think it is too difficult to manage innovation on your own? Simply send your most promising employees to a critical thinking class to encourage them to look at your internal operations differently. Or, assign a group of creative people to manage innovation independently. Leaders will be amazed at the services that can be improved, as well as the efficiency of even the simplest of tasks, when innovation is encouraged. Leaders have to be secure within themselves when a transformational idea comes from someone else or the process is doomed for failure.
Because of the reluctance to change, innovating is a challenge to get started. But, there are enormous resources available to effectively begin the process. Start reviewing books, websites, organizations, and many more avenues that are available on innovative thinking. Although you are spending time, resources, and money on finding the answers, learning how to make your department innovative, will enhance your department’s operations. Innovation changes every single day. Have you thought about your true contribution to the police profession and how your legacy will be viewed? If you haven’t, you still have time.
For more information on developing the critical thinking skills necessary for innovation, click here: