In my Dare to Be Great leadership workshops I talk about my three biggest takeaways from Stanley McCrystal’s book Team of Teams. One of those is that 20th Century thinking, systems, and processes are not effective in the 21st Century. I will add to that by saying that early 21st Century thinking, systems and processes are not effective in 2016 and beyond. Three areas in law enforcement where I see the greatest need to change our thinking are leadership, wellness and training. Today I will focus on training.
“It is a healthy thing now and then to hang a question mark on the things you have long taken for granted.”
Take some time to reflect on the training delivered in your recruit academy and your inservice training programs. Other than the names and faces of the recruits and officers attending training what has significantly changed in the last 5, 10, 15 or even 20 years? The default answer for most trainers is, “Lots of stuff has changed.” Ok. Explain to me what has changed. Show me how your training has evolved over the years.
Have you studied and implemented the research on adult learning into your training? Have you moved away from block training and moved towards more random and variable training and decision training?
Have you examined the research on human performance in dynamic events and changed your training accordingly?
Do you still run a stress, or boot camp style academy where recruits are taught to do what they are told, because that is the way you have always done it? Or, do you run a challenging academy with high standards where recruits are taught to think, solve problems and make good decisions?
Have your teaching methodologies changed to ensure the participants in training are engaged in actual learning? Have you changed your PowerPoints or other visual aides lately? (I am not talking about changing the template in the background, I am talking about Presentation Zen types of changes to your PowerPoint.)
Have you changed your scenarios recently so they are reflective of what your officers actually face in the street? Have you changed the manner in which you run scenarios? Have you changed the manner in which you conduct debriefings to become more student centered by asking more and telling less?
Have you changed the way in which you use videos, or simply changed the videos you show of cops getting injured and killed?
Do you complain about the “new generation of officers? Or, do you study the research on generational issues, talk to the new officers and find ways to best engage them in training and best help them learn?
If you were to bring officers into your academy who went through training 5 years ago, ten years ago, 15 years ago and 20 years ago would they say, “Wow, I can’t believe how much training has changed?”, or would they say, “Yeah. I remember this from when I went through.” Do your officers look forward to in-service training because it is always new, interesting and engaging? Or, is in-service training the same old stuff every year?
Too many agencies and trainers are still using 20th Century systems, thinking and processes in today’s training, then wonder why their officers are ill equipped to police in today’s world.
What about your training? What needs to change? I am not talking about change for the sake of change. I am talking about meaningful change based on research and evidence to ensure the best possible learning environment for the men and women you have the privilege to train.
We all want to hold onto what has “worked in the past”. We all want to hold onto what is comfortable for us. That is human nature. We owe our officers more than that. We need to evolve our training to best serve them and best prepare them. We cannot do that with 20th Century systems, thinking, processes and training.
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