My post last month came from an outstanding book that I read titled, “Good to Great”, by Jim Collins. What I truly enjoyed the most from the book was how Jim’s research revealed some particular attributes of companies that went from ho-hum status to rock star status and stayed there. As you may recall from last month’s post, of course a piece of the puzzle was the leadership. Jim described the leaders of the good to great companies as “Level-5 Leaders”. What are level-5 leaders? Well, for one, they possess HUMILITY. For those of you that have attended GSPCC’s leadership class, you know how important this characteristic can be. The second component of a level-5 leader is his/her relentless drive to accomplish goals.
Now, to give even more credit to Jim Collins, he and his research team felt that given their level of questions from people who work in industries other than business, they put together a follow up monograph just for what he calls the “Social Sectors”, which are governments, non-profits, and basically any industry where the final product is a service without a profit.
After reading the monograph, I have some good news. The principals are basically the same. With respects to leadership, social sectors, especially police departments, need level-5 leaders. The original book and the monograph discuss another component known as the “Hedgehog Concept”. I will let you read that from each book, as it would take much longer to explain here. For now, I want to focus on the idea of what a police department should be focusing on in order to be effective.
When it comes to a for-profit business, the measure of success is profit (there are other factors, but profit is the biggest measure of health). The more profit there is, the better the health of the company. How do we measure the health, or efficacy, of a police department, given there are no profits? Do we use arrests? Reports? Car stops? Pay???
Former New York Police Commissioner Bill Bratton shook the status quo efficacy measure and flipped it around. Prior to Bratton, the typical measure of efficacy was……wait for it……you know where I’m going here……INTERNAL NUMBERS! How many arrests, stops, solved crimes, reports taken, calls for service, budgets met, etc, etc, etc. Bratton felt that the only measure to focus on were not the “input” variables (listed above), but the “output” variables, such as decreases in crime and traffic accidents, public opinion, and so on. These variables are often overlooked. This idea goes back to my previous article regarding supervisors that rely heavily on officer statistics for evaluation purposes. What supervisors should be doing is looking at the overall effect of input variables, which are outputs. Basically, is what we are doing having an effect? If the answer is no, then maybe a new approach is needed.
As you can tell, I am a fan of both the Good to Great book, as well as the follow-up monograph. I highly recommend that you read them both, especially if you are an executive level officer at your agency. I wish I had read it while I was still in law enforcement.