The challenge for reform in policing

The challenge for reform in policing

In an article in The Times, Sir Mark Rowley was attributed with saying that he needed to [effectively] take a head-on approach to the reform and organisational change of the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS). No mean feat, given the size of the organisation (c. 45,000 people) and the scope; everything from dealing with long-term sickness, discrimination, the investigation of crime, how to deal/cope with radical climate activists and the rebuilding of public confidence. And all within a political context that ensures a general election no later than January 2025, where all parties will feature policing, in one form or another, in their manifestos. 

Given that life and, therefore, policing never stops, all interventions and reforms will be concurrent with ongoing challenges, many of which will continue to play out in high-risk situations. The need, therefore, to maintain a sense of organisational equilibrium will be acute (with a focus on the ‘why’ and ‘how’, as well as the ‘what’). Effective organisational change is designed to concurrently appreciate, and overcome, the inherent dialectic that progress depends as much on continuity as change; the balance of both crediting the past (good practice) whilst at the same time discrediting the past (poor practice).  

How to implement a feedback loop

So how can a timely feedback loop from the people, that ensures that their ongoing experience, intelligence and perception, be factored into dynamic organisational change, without disrupting and adding to an already congested programme of work?  

Complex, evolving, environments cannot be fully engaged and understood by holding faith with established routines and meanings as they require continuous updating (‘what’s the story here?’). Even very capable people often make at least one big, basic, error  – i.e. rushing to change in the mistaken belief that they already know what they have got, where they are going and how to get there – with little time to appreciate thecost or recurrent impact of change on the people. 

Organisations that want robust analysis/interventions need to determine their own trade-offs. The professional researcher will provide general, but narrow, assessments through research and try and fit this into simple/accurate findings so that they produce actionable interventions (forcing complex theory into simple actions).  

The consultant approach

The alternative management consultant-led approach will be to either survey or interview large swathes of the organisation through their existing templates and then try to interpret these in ways that can be linked to recommended interventions (basing accurate assumptions on generalised theory).  

The Tensense method is based on Organisational Sensemaking™ and is an excellent foundation for the automated general and simple analysis of organisational behaviour; a genuine alternative to the often slow, cumbersome and expensive rational consultant-led strategic programmes of work. That is to say harnessing the power of the natural process of sensemaking by mimicking it through software development, adding a breadth and depth beyond what single humans are capable of reliably exploiting. 

Tensense’s analytics do not entirely replace traditional consultancies but, through enhancement and automation of the sensemaking processes, they disrupt the methodology by doing the heavy lifting of rapid data analysis. This gives leaders the choice to:

  • act on their augmented intuition, or
  • narrow the scope for engaging with consulting experts, or
  • utilise narrow, but accurate, surveys.

In short, the consultant-led processes fail to utilise the experience-led intuitive capability of clients because they have no methods for gathering and framing the data in actionable ways, whilst traditional surveys can provide accurate information but within narrowly defined parameters. 

Tensense uses small packets of clues, in the form of 16 short questions, to focus the attention of leaders on broad scans of their organisations. The responses to those clues are mapped to models that represent familiar subject areas i.e. organisational culture, performance, motivation and team working. The aim is to quickly assist leaders to cut through the equivocality that surrounds them, whilst they are trying to deliver significant change, so that their instinctive attentional spans are narrowed down to key areas of concern and opportunity, thus assisting them to better comprehend the current, but shifting context of their organisations and enhancing their decision-making capabilities. Leaders therefore gain rapid insight into areas of primary concern, enabling them to take more effective action, in as close to real time as possible. You can see a short video here.

Photo by Krzysztof Hepner on Unsplash