We have so many chances to say “Well, if I were in charge, I would…” or “I can’t believe they did that in that movie” or “How dumb are those people?!” Nowhere is that more apparent than with the police officers that work in our communities. We’ve done some amazing work with these folks and this week I had a chance to participate in some training along side them. It was a great opportunity to walk a mile in their shoes. Or drive a mile in their squad. (literally and figuratively!)
Check out this video of me getting a chance to drive one of their training vehicles on their "serpentine" course, complete with water hazards!
In the morning we went over polices and procedures that govern what seems to be a pretty simple decision: to pursue or not pursue a suspect when they decide to not stop for your flashing lights. Without getting into the specifics, let’s just say my head was swimming. If you want to see the specifics and make your head swim, read this. It’s more complicated than you think.
Layer on top of that, the other 61 policies that govern decisions.
Layer on top of that, the changing nature of the situation that is in front of you (i.e. the vehicle that decides to not stop for your flashing lights!).
Layer on top of that information coming to you from your superiors, other officers also responding to the situation, and information popping up on your dash display.
Layer on top of that your personal history of being in situations like this.
Layer on top of that the safety of citizens.
Layer on top of that the safety of yourself.
Oh, and you have to drive a car really fast.
I got to experience this feeling first hand and I was overwhelmed by how hard it is to make decisions and do their job.
At this point in our history, it is easier than ever to “Monday Morning Quarterback” just about everything. For those unfamiliar with the term, check out a blog my colleague wrote a few years back.
I think it is important to hold high standards for behavior and performance in organizations. It is important to examine failures and learn from them. I think it is equally important to not be too quick to judge, react, and demonize the actions of someone when we don’t have anywhere near the perspective we need. I find that the vast majority of people in this world want to do the right thing. And the right thing looks different when you have different information and different perspectives. And it can change second to second.
Eric Zakovich | Organizational Development Consultant | firstname.lastname@example.org