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Presentation Hack: "Whether you believe it or not..."

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A good leader can engage in a debate frankly and thoroughly, knowing at the end he and the other side must be closer, and thus emerge stronger. You don't have that idea when you are arrogant, superficial, and uninformed. - Nelson MandelaIn complexity, there are often opposing views, values, or approaches to various situations.

What's the best way to talk about the issues?

Answer: Debate.

But how can a moderator better facilitate a healthy debate?

A lot depends on the relationships between the attendees or participants in the room. It can even come down to the relationship between the moderator and the participants. Whatever the case, I've learned some fairly universal techniques to draw out discussion points that highlight the tensions, tradeoffs, risks, compromises, and side effects with a complex situation....regardless of the personalities.

How or can you remove the person from the stance? How or can we break the connection between an idea or belief...from the messenger?

Presentation Hack: "For those of you who don't me..."

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I've been to quite a few weddings. Not that I've been invited to more than any of you, but I have moonlighted in a few banquet halls over the years. As such, I've heard my fair share of toasts by Best Men and Maids of Honor. (And eaten my fair share of dinners in the back half.)
For many Best Men or Maids of Honor, the dinner toast is one (1) of the most stressful aspects of a wedding weekend for them. Public speaking causes all sorts of anxiety - magnified by the pressure of knowing your failure might ruin your best friend's most special day of his/her life! Yikes!




It doesn't take long to determine who is comfortable holding the microphone. And whether I can see the body language or not, it's sometimes the first few words that come out of their mouths that give it away.
Few public speaking phrases get me to cringe as reliably and as intensely as an introduction of  "For those of you who don't know me..."This introduction extends well beyond wedding…

Criminal Investigations Through the Lens of Complexity & Design Theory

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When I was transferred last year to supervise a detective squad, I knew one (1) of my missions was to nurture a mindset that appreciated complexity and design. 

Complexity is a word that most police detectives and analysts use quite frequently. It's usually used to describe criminal cases, trends, or gangs that have a large number of variables. But that's not how I see it. Those would be things that are complicated. Now at the risk of sounding like a Cynefin kool-aid drinker (to which I openly admit that I taste from time to time), please understand that I specifically separate complicated from complex.

A huge financial crimes scheme tends to be more complicated than it is complex. It requires a structured, analytical, methodical mindset to seek and fit the pieces to see the whole puzzle. Detective solve these cases in sorta the same general methods. We even share labels for certain financial schemes that tightly fit specific patterns.

For the detectives out there, you can all …

Presentation Hack: Language That Divides

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Imagine the possibilities if you abandon or avoid the terms that divide - and instead focus on the concepts, behaviors, principles. I once moderated an 8-hr workshop about [something] without ever mentioning [the phrase] that I knew would turn off the participants. Late in the day, a high-ranking Police attendee approaches me in private: “This is really similar to [that phrase] that I support....” Me: “Don’t you dare say [that phrase] out loud in this class. You’ll turn the rest of them off.” And then, he realized the obstacle. In the closing remarks for the day, I mentioned [that phrase]. Grumbles all around — with the exception of a few faces who realized what had happened. Trickery? Manipulation? Exploitation?  No. But rather a short explanation on how powerful language is in our:
attraction, adoption, agreeabilityrepulsion, ignorance, dissent

...of a concept just because of the associations that come with the label. You want people to shift their thinking? Know their language. Speak it. Know…

The Teaching Machine

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When it comes to moderating workshops on complexity and adaptability, the traditional administrative tools of formal education simply do not fit. 
Heck, even the language doesn't fit. Even in my first sentence, I reference the verb moderate as opposed to teach. And I certainly won't use the verb train in that context! 
One (1) of my workshops is regularly hosted by a government-funded training organization in Illinois. As suspected, all courses they sponsor must include a course syllabus. The format they request includes:
1.         Purpose of Course 2.         Course Overview 3.         Course Goals 4.         Course Prerequisites 5.         Methods of Evaluation 6.         Methods of Instruction 7.         Course References / Bibliography 8.         Course Requirements / Grading Policy 9.         Recommended Instructional Aids 10.       Attendance Policy 11.       Academic Integrity 12.       and then an hour-by-hour outline of course content.
I've been vocal with the administrators in…

When Questions Get Taken Away From You

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For some unknown reason, today I thought about a mental exercise we ran on our police SWAT team. The team had (and for those still on it: has) a responsibility for responding to incidents of hostage-taking. 

This exercise was one (1) that I also began running with other teams. It was quite simple, yet was a window right into the minds of the members on the team and in the tactical community in general. 
If you responded to a hostage incident & could only ask one (1) question, what would that one (1) question be?Imagine arriving at a hostage-taking incident. Imagine all the questions you'd have. All the information you'd want. All the specifics. All the facts. It'd be easy to list two (2) dozen questions that could prove vital to the success of saving the hostages. Could you go all-in on a single inquiry? 

Members would share their one (1) question. Inevitably, people changed their minds as they heard more profound, more important questions being shared....and forecasted t…

Reflections On & Top Five (5) Posts from 2018

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Dear readers,

In these last days of 2018, I reflect back on this blog. This is the fiftieth (50th) post of the year. That number also includes:

nine (9) Presentation Hack columns,four (4) Weekend Building Blocks recommendations, &one (1) guest post.I operate on and post according to no schedule. When something moves me, I write. I was quite surprised that I averaged just under one (1) post per week. That's a lot for a hobby like this! 

The top viewed posts from 2018?

Probing ComplexityOur Tendencies to Want Things to Be More Complicated or More ComplexPresentation Hack: Your Last Slide(s)RED Teaming: We Cannot Control the BLUE TeamWhen Police Measure What Doesn't Matter
What does 2019 hold for The Illinois Model? 

No idea. But it certainly will not include advertisements or sponsors! I'm not a sell-out. This continues to be a personal labor of learning and sharing. 

I appreciate all of you who continue to share this content on your social media feeds and email lists. I even e…

On Spectrums & Dimensions

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When The Illinois Modelbegan to take form in the early 2000s police SWAT community in Chicagoland, it didn't take long for me to see a need to add depth and breadth. The very original form was a sense-making and tactical decision-making framework for police officers, 

The earliest form prioritized situational awareness, goal-setting, planning, & implementation. I've slowly transitioned this tiered pyramid below to one (1) axis in a multi-dimensioned model - as indicated by the blue axis above.





I've written quite a bit on this version or dimension of The Illinois Model. I refer to it often as the Strategy axis, where we link Why with How...or goals with tactics. 
When the framework began gaining popularity outside the policing context, I saw that the operating environments should be more clearly articulated. Enter the Predictability axis, where we discuss the controllability, knowability, or repeatability of a situation. We address constraints and the perpetual tension b…