The Dangerous Gap Before Deadly Force

Videos of physical struggles between police and citizens, like that posted by @FreeRangeCritic this week of Chicago Police resorting to shooting a man in the subway, get my mind returning to tough questions. (If you have been in a cave the last few days, I suggest watching the video before reading on...)

As a police officer myself, I'm especially troubled, frustrated, and bothered by videos where the officers appear to have lost control, appear to be overpowered, appear to be ineffective, or appear to be otherwise unreasonably vulnerable to injury or worse. 

As a free citizen, I'm equally troubled, frustrated, and bothered by videos where the officers appear to have overreacted, appear indecisive, appear to have made bad decisions, or appear to use excessive force. 

This is one (1) such video that holds several of those aspects at once. 

I've spent a bulk of my time as a police officer in training roles, where a few dozen days (or more) per year are designated for me helping p…

Clustering Clusters

My kids are of the jiggle puzzle age. Huge puzzles. Miniature puzzles. Easy puzzles. Near-impossible puzzles. We've got got boxes and ziplock baggies full of puzzles...some even have all the pieces!

I enjoy watching their different strategies. Separate out all the edges. Hunt for the corners. Sort by the blue sky...the red bricks...the purple flower.

Sometimes my kids even agree to work on a single puzzle together!

Last week, I watched as two (2) of my kids struggled together with one (1) such puzzle. They had each proudly assembled sizable chunks of pieces into discernible sections of the image. They were each individually hunting for more pieces to connect to their clusters...

What they hadn't yet realized was that each of their chunks were ready to be connected to each other.

What I saw next was both excitement and selfishness. Excited to see that they, together, were closer to completing the mission. Selfish in that they had each been working separately on th…

Situational Awareness: Passive or Active?

Are you positioning yourself to see all there is to see, as quickly as it can be seen? 

When I talk with most folks about Situational Awareness, they mention phrases like:
being aware of your surroundings; know what's happening around you; observing things that stick out. These behaviors or characteristics aren't wrong. However, they do bring out a certain flavor of passivity. It's as if the person is passively monitoring their environment as a receptor of stimuli. It's, in a way, a defensive way of opening oneself up to receive information, whenever that information decides to reveal itself. In short, information comes to you.

What if we looked at a different posture of situational awareness? 

What if we became more active in our pursuit of information? 

What if we went on the offense to hunt out information? 

What if we pulled information early, as opposed to waiting for it to be pushed to us? 

What if we purposely increased the channels, scans, alerts, sensors, triggers t…

How to Grow Decisiveness in Your Team

People who are reluctant to made decisions have been conditioned to behave that way.

If you want these folks to make decisions, you'll have to overcome their ingrained fears & incentives.

There are no shortcuts. However, I'd like to share a few things that have worked in growing decisiveness in teams of which I've been a member. 

1. Discuss the relationship between available/perceived discretionary time & accuracy/reasonableness of the decision. These are two (2) different characteristics of a decision. Time relates to urgency. Basically, how much time do we have to consider the situation and options? Accuracy relates to how correct, while acknowledging that few options are as objective as answers to a math test.

2. Reward decisiveness, even potentially more than the quality of the decision. This is especially true if the situation is complicated, novel, complex, dynamic, or uncertain. Also, criticize or penalize (tactfully, of course) indecision. Make being wrong less…

Weekend Building Blocks: The Illinois Model's Most Read of 2019

There's no value in collecting blocks unless you're connecting them to build something awesome! This special year-end Weekend Building Blocks focuses on 2019's most viewed blog posts from this The Illinois Model website. Of the forty (40) posts that I wrote and published in the past year, here are the most visited:
(How) Can Cynefin Help the Police Criminal Intelligence Community?Teams Versus GroupsPresentation Hack: Death by BikabloClassically-Trained Firearms Instructors & 21st Century Learning PrinciplesHot Wash Debrief: OODA + Cynefin  I continue to be amazed at which posts are flat duds...and which get wide sharing, commentary, and interaction. My predictions are wildly off. 
I suspected the #5 piece on the OODA + Cynefin workshop might be the top post; it wasn't. I would NOT have guessed that any of the top four (4) would be among the top five (5). 
Those above are statistics limited to posts that I wrote in 2019. What was read most in 2019? It was actually a…

The Opposite of Strategy

I'm fascinated by the intentional practice of examining the opposites of things. It's as if I can get a better understanding of a theory, concept, idea, or principle when I seek something else that is in direct competition with or in tension with the original term I was thinking about. 
To think about light, think about darkness.To think about decentralization, think about centralization. To think about micro-management, think about laissez-faire.To think about generalist, think about specialism. To think about God, think about the devil.You get the picture. There are plenty of these sorts of dichotomous concepts - especially to those of us who study complexity and adaptability. 

So with that, the concept of strategy has been on my mind recently. Without turning this into a post about strategy itself, I'll go easy on my definition or explanation of it.

To me, strategy is a vital link between goals and tactics. Strategy is more conceptual (and more steadfast) than tactics.


Presentation Hack: Moderating & Participating in Panels

Panel presentations can be among the most interesting sessions for attendees, yet the most stressful to coordinate for organizers.
Aside from having watched/attended quite a few panel presentations, I have some experience at both the moderatorand the panelist roles (<-- links to recent panels). Here are some hacks I've picked up on:

As a moderator, your role is to... provide or coordinate an introduction of each panelist;openly state any agenda, intent, or purpose of the assembled panel; act as glue - fill in gaps, connect panelists, & relate ideas;call on the introverted, quiet panelists;keep the strong personality panelists from taking over;coordinate transitions between panelists & topics; highlight similarities & differences among panelists' content; temper conflict, yet draw out competing perspectives;make sure no panelist is seen as a winner or loser; solicit audience questions & direct to appropriate panelists; provide a conclusion to the session.A…

Mental Models & Thinking Models

There is a lot of talk about "mental models" these days. I see disparity in how the term is used and defined. I offer this to the already-confusing discussion and debate:

What I see is a commingling with something else that I refer to as thinking models...

Mental models are etched patterns and worldview (often subconscious) that represent how various parts of reality connect, interact, relate, or work together. They are build through experience, exposure, faith, cognitive heuristics, storytelling, schemata, and imagery. We rely upon these models during intuitive, primal responses and reactions...but also arguably during rational, creative decision-making. 

Thinking models are useful tools and frameworks that help us make conscious decisions. Examples: Cynefin; OODA; The Illinois Model; PDCS; SARA; economics theories; generalism vs specialism; systems thinking tools; political theories; geometric/algebraic formulas; risk management models; certain procedures (linear & non-l…

Hot Wash Debrief: OODA + Cynefin

Last week, I was fortunate to attend Cognitive Edge's MasterClass exploring the links between Cynefin (a sense-making framework, born in the IT industry) and OODA (a modeling of decision-making, born in the US Air Force). If you don't know at least one (1) of these frameworks/models, there's a good chance you're going to be lost here... 
This post is my attempt to capture some of the smaller "events" within the workshop, and also to begin chunking together various lessons learned. My head is still spinning with new ideas, so I write this as almost a way to help myself analyze and synthesize what just happened....

I've been a passionate student of both Cynefin and OODA, as well as US Air Force Colonel John Boyd (d. 1997), complexity, adaptability, and learning. With regards to the integration of Cynefin-OODA, I've been particularly watchful online of Brian Rivera's mashups in his blog. How he thinks and writes is very similar to ho…