The Future of The Illinois Model?

I get asked a lot about what I see for the future of The Illinois Model. As if I have some sort of crystal ball...

As I write this in 2019, I'm in the middle of my 22nd year as a full-time career policeman. As one (1) of the civil service sayings goes, "I got time, but not age." With enough years of service to retire, I'm not eligible to collect my police pension for quite a few more years...a drawback of being hired too young. 

The Illinois Model is more of a hobby than a second job. The time away from my full-time job to take on side contracts (for classes; for workshops; etc) is becoming more complicated by the year. It was considerably easier for me to schedule weekday events when I worked shifts and weekends as opposed to my current "banker hours." 

This side hustle is run on a MacBook Air, through this cheap website, a free LinkedIn profile, and a Twitter account that just can't seem to reach the 1,500 follower benchmark. Please don't call me if your number is blocked; I can't take the risk of it being my mom calling to ask if I'm still alive.

Most blog posts are written from the comfort of my family room couch..or the occasional upright setting of my dining room table (should the LEGOs or craft bins be put away at the particular moment).

Skype calls and video conferencing requires an escaped solitude that does not exist in homes with energetic kids. I consider myself lucky to fit in a shower on days my wife is working.

To say this is a shoestring budget operation would be to ignore broken shoelaces. I once traded individualized firearms instruction for legal advice from an Intellectual Property attorney friend.

Several years ago, I fell for the allure of working for a larger (everything is bigger than a single-man shop!) consulting corporation. I thought it would help handle the administrative aspects of my business venture that was outgrowing my business knowledge. I quickly realized I'm a whore who should not work for a pimp. (I'm a freelancer, not an entrepreneur. Seth Godin knows the difference!)

Yet, this is fun.

I do continue to shoehorn in a three (3) day workshop every quarter and the occasional single-day event. I make it easy to price out: You've got to pay me at least my police department overtime rate to make it worth it. Nobody is getting screwed at that rate.

I meet some unbelievably smart folks - both in-person and online. They challenge me to think more broadly, more deeply, and from a different perspective. I often appreciate the criticism more than the agreement.

Most recently I've been asked to consider an exploratory workshop with Dave Snowden of Cognitive Edge. "Sure, I'd prefer Chicago...'cuz I'd like to sleep at home if at all possible..." That prospect has me pretty stoked to be (possibly) working alongside Cynefin Dave with an audience who is likely more than a tad different than my usual. I hope it comes through.

Do I have any far-fetched dreams with The Illinois Model?

If any, it's to expand the workshops to an intense two (2)-week program. And since we are dreaming big...maybe a residential program with daily exercise, quiet time, individual projects, and an opportunity for me to cook dinners for the attendees. (I do enjoy hosting family long as someone else does the dishes.) Let's throw in the living room style recreation area for after-dinner drinks.

As I post this, I'm working with some of you on bringing a program to your police agency or to work on a local Meet-Up with your tribe. I'm not trying to get out of any commitments. But you need to understand that this is what I do for fun more than for the money. You will pay me, not only for being with you, but also for what I'm missing at home. And, to be honest, I'm probably giving you too good of a deal.

Have patience. My emails are answered between diaper-changes, little league games, and mowing the lawn. You're not getting any fake invoice numbers, wife pretending to be my secretary, or other exaggerations to make this operation seem any more legitimate than it is. Checks made payable to me...mostly because I haven't taken the advice of my attorney friend. Or my accountant friend.

Retirement will come soon enough. Maybe The Illinois Model will have grown by then to a point I can supplement my pension enough to continue with the private school tuition payments, with some left over for some nice family vacations. I've also considered scrapping it all to start up a backyard BBQ catering gig...but that sounds like too much work!

So where do I see the future? I'm not sure. I hope it's continuing down a journey of growth, self-study, and creating something bigger than myself. But for now, I better hit PUBLISH and get to the dirty dishes before she gets home. I do find myself having to put the brakes on to slow it down from time to time.


Lou Hayes, Jr. is a criminal investigations & intelligence unit supervisor in a suburban Chicago police department. With a passion for training, he studies human performance & decision-making, creativity, emotional intelligence, and adaptability. Follow Lou on Twitter at @LouHayesJr or on LinkedInHe also maintains a LinkedIn page for The Illinois Model


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