Presentation Hack: Invitation to Debate

Do you ever invite your audience or students into debate? 
For some teachers, trainers, or public speakers, a passionate disagreement between audience members or students is something to be avoided and prevented at any cost. It might be seen as disruptive, a loss of control, abrasive, or uncivilized, or disrespectful. But for me, I embrace my role as a moderator of both deliberate and spontaneous debate in the classroom. 
Now I realize not every circumstance or setup is ideal for audience participation. Large conference style presentations do not always lend themselves well to open, organic discussion or debate. But for crowds under one-hundred in number [1], sparking a debate might be among the best methods to learn about complex topics.
Let's first define a complex topic. Complexity, in this context, is when a situation, challenge, opportunity, or circumstance: has no firm right or wrong answers or process;has unpredictable second- or third-order effects;has multiple perspective…

Blowing $#!t Up with Liminal Cynefin

Being Human podcast host Richard Atherton interviewed Dave Snowden for an episode (<-- link) titled Managing in Complexity.
I've written a bit on Cynefin and how it's positively impacted my perspective on policing -- tactical, community relations, investigative, intelligence, supervision, training, and policy to name a few aspects. Cynefin and Snowden's more generalized work continues to be helpful in understanding complex adaptive systems, various environments, and the functions within them. (If you're new to Cynefin, I recommend reading up on it, and maybe starting with this video. Otherwise, you'll be lost!)     
Cynefin is one of several frameworks or depictions that resonate with me. (OODA and of course The Illinois Model are a couple of the others.) I still have trouble wrapping my head around some of the stuff that Dave talks about, despite his excellent use of metaphors and examples from a wide selection of fields and subjects.  One of the hard-to-chew …

Auftragstaktik: 100 Years Before It Was Called #Agile

Police Lieutenant Fred Leland introduced me to Major Donald Vandergriff (US Army, ret) a handful of years ago. 

At Fred's recommendation, I read one (1) of Don's books: Raising the Bar: Creating & Nurturing Adaptability to Deal with the Changing Face of War. It was the first time I realized the US military was implementing some of the same theories of adaptability that I had been studying, testing, and promoting inside US policing. 

When Fred and Don co-authored Adaptive Leadership Handbook - Law Enforcement & Security: Innovative Ways to Teach & Develop Your Peoplein 2013, I gobbled it up as soon as it was released. 

Fast forward and bypass the other books Don has written since then. It will bring us to the meat of this blog post. This week, I came across two (2) of Don's pieces published in Small Wars Journal
How the Germans Defended Auftragstaktik: What Mission Command Is - AND Is NotHow to Develop for Mission Command: The Missing LinkThey both deal with the c…

Weekend Building Blocks - 22 JUN 2018

There's no value in collecting blocks unless you're connecting them to build something awesome! First,Weekend Building Blocks has been in a lengthy state of hibernation. Again, there is lot of crap out there on the interweb...
CTA: Brutal Attacks Rise As Trasit Crime Heads Higher For Third Year. CWB Chicago is a non-traditional news supplier in Chicago, specializing in crime, politics, and policing. As such, they were recently involved in some conflict with a major city traditional newspaper's editorial staff. This piece highlights their in-depth work and what should be a standard for reporting crime in a city like Chicago.PowerPoint Presentations Flaws and Failures: A Psychological Analysis. This is an academic paper identifying some research studies on what are principles, laws, or standards of designing projected slides for a presentation. We're all going to get better slide shows now, right? (Thanks to Sara Wood for this piece.) Developing Police Sergeants: Getting…

Presentation Hack: Evidence-Based Slide Design?

This week, as with most weeks, I followed some professional conferences via Twitter. This live-tweet phenomenon has attendees using event hashtags to share quotes from the speakers, pithy commentary, and of of presenters' projected slides. 
And yet again, I see a trend: Terrible slide design. Terrible. As in violating a list of the so-called rules of PowerPoint. Or Keynote. Or whatever software is used.
When I posted the following tweet:

We need “Evidence-Based Slide Design.” 🤣 — Lou Hayes, Jr. (@LouHayesJr) June 21, 2018
I was only half joking about evidence-based slide design. It did seem to be the bulk of crappy slides were from smart university academic-types. The slides were filled with small text, photo collages, cluttered graphs, and raw data. 
Then Sara Wood replied:

You rang? — Sara Wood (@SaraSaysData) June 21, 2018
I follow Sara because of her posts about slide design, formatting, chart…

When Is Good Enough, Good Enough?

Few want to talk about this. Probably because it violates a mantra we've heard since we were kids:
Do your best. But there is a trap in seeking excellence. A dark side in hunting for perfection. An unintended consequence for working to be the best you can be. 

What's the cost associated with seeing excellence?

We have to talk about tradeoffs and compromises. In order to be the best at Skill A, you are neglecting Skill B...or Skill C...or Skill Z. To excel, it means you are becoming a specialist in a narrow skill or topic or silo. Therefore, your cost in seeking excellence in Skill A is measured in the loss of growing some other skill.

As a police tactical firearms instructor, I continually run into resistance with other instructors when I argue that a shooter is "good enough.' As trainers, we are inundated with the same mantra as kids: Do your best. And through it, get our student shooters to do their best.

But that may be doing our people a great disservice. The cost …

On Medicine & Policing

I spent yesterday in a surgical center with a family member. After months of diagnostic and prep work, it was finally time for the operating room. Between the office staff, the nurses, the anesthesiology team, the surgical team, the rehab equipment rental agent...they have it down to...well...a science.

Before the patient was rolled under the bright lights over the operating table, the situation was quite known. Variables were inspected, checked, and double-checked. Contingencies were in place for darn near everything that could happen. But how?

It seemed as though everything they did along the journey, in the surgery itself, and planned for recovery was done with if they'd done it before. And they have. Multiple times per day. And not just this particular group of medical professionals. But thousands like them across the country and the world. They have established a collection of successes and failures - from each and every step along the way.

A person who experien…

OODA: Perception, Velocity, & Harmony

I've written before about the perversion of US Air Force Colonel John Boyd's OODA. In the context of American policing, the application is highly tactical - overly focused on responding to physical threats to a police officer's life. As such, this application of OODA stresses:
conflict, speed, and disruption. And that's not only narrow. It's kinda wrong too. And if not wrong, at least incomplete.

Whether I am dealing with a violent criminal or a person with a mental illness in a state of crisis, I contend with and confront adversaries. These are people who might do harm to me or others. I prepare myself for physical combat - as it can happen in the blink of an eye.

But there is another invisible adversary here: Perception.

The psychological and emotional components of policing deeply involve perception. Sometimes I want to distort another's perception - to disrupt or confuse their mental processing. But more often, I want to bring another's perception close…

Spotting The Undertaker

I attended a funeral today where I knew very few of the fellow mourners. As I walked towards the church doors, from the crowd, I picked out The Undertaker.

How is it that you can scan a crowd of strangers and in the snap of your fingers have your focus drawn to one particular person in one particular role? What is it that makes them an anomaly

For me, it used to be a subconscious recognition of The Undertaker at a funeral service. There wasn't a conscious thought that went into it...that is until I made mention of this among friends a few years ago. They soon agreed that they too could subconsciously spot The Undertaker. (And I bet you can too!) 

Think about the characteristics of a funeral director at a wake or memorial service. Close your eyes and list observations that would make The Undertaker stand out from the rest of the mourners. Then come back to this blog...

[Seriously. Close your eyes and image that.] 

You may have not have ever consciously or purposely considered the va…

Presentation Hack: Slides vs Handout

When I attend a presentation and get handed the projected slides as a handout, I cringe. Is the presenter lazy? Disinterested? Thoughtless? Ignorant? Unaware?
Sure, PowerPoint has a quick feature to print various handouts from the slide deck. Most popular seems to be the format of three (3) slides alongside conveniently lined space for notes. But with a little additional effort, we can do so much better!
Projected slides provide for visual supplement or "eye candy" to your presentation. They serve as a backdrop to set the tone, emotion, or setting of a story, concept, stance, or idea. I've long recommended a Spartan design philosophy - where photos, logos, or diagrams are simple, clear, large, and void of large blocks of text. I'm even against most uses of bullet points, except for those most brief, bare, and significant. Your charts and graphs should be of such simple design that you could recreate them with chalk on a blackboard in front of your audience (Think: Ho…