Adaptive Thinking Workshops

I've been fielding more questions about hosting workshops for both law enforcement audiences & participants...and non-law enforcement! I actually really like that idea, but I'm not in a position to push them forward. It's going to have to be an on-request sort of venture. 

Want to see my philosophy & some content that would be included? Here is what you might see in a workshop for law enforcement, from a detailed proposal for a police department:


Law enforcement culture tends to utilize a linear, technical mindset for training, intelligence, policy, operations, and supervision.  At the same time, police officers, supervisors, and command staff continue to struggle with complications from poor decision-making and leadership. This antiquated framework is a carry over from an industrial education model primarily designed for efficiency via cost savings and the maximization of time...for training factory workers! The unpredictable modern law enforcement environment is far from that of an assembly line.

·      Why should we consider adopting a new cultural philosophy in our training, intelligence, policy, operations, and supervision?
·      How do we shift our thinking to accommodate those situations in which rigid rules, checklists, or flowcharts simply do not apply? 
·      How do we effectively nurture a non-linear, adaptive mindset – at the individual, team, and organizational levels? 

The random, unpredictable, dynamic, high-stakes nature of police work requires adaptability at all levels and in all situations.

This workshop has been developed specifically for growth-minded thinkers seeking to understand the relationships between so many previously unconnected topics. In an immersive learning environment that relies on active discussion and practical exercises, students will examine: 

Balancing adherence to rules & embracing creative problem-solving
Building resiliency to work through failure
Breaking silo-thinking & institutional barriers to effective communication and operations
Predict & forecast based on a mix of research & experience
Writing policy & procedures that effectively match function with environment
Giving & receiving feedback from a variety of sources
Understanding analytic & critical thinking vs intuition & experience
Appreciating system capabilities vs environmental demands
Exploiting emotional intelligence & behavioral analysis
Mitigating the effects of stress on decision-making
Using contemporary learning research to enhance student retention
Working effectively with people who think differently than you
Using strategic thinking to navigate uncertainty
Triaging challenges and “stacking the deck” for better preparedness


First and foremost, I believe in dignified policing. This requires a sense of pride in self, peers, and agency. However, at its core, dignified policing is about treating citizens with respect, compassion, and understanding. When a police officer allows a citizen to retain his/her dignity, amazing things are possible.

I believe in enforcing the law in accordance to the Constitution. As such, police officers must operate within the confines of case law, specifically that of the Fourth Amendment. An intimate knowledge of Search and Seizure is a foundation for legitimate law enforcement.

Department use of force policy should mirror case law standards. Words such as minimumavoidable, and necessary have no place in agency policy. Determining force’s avoid-ability or necessity requires either a crystal ball or time machine. However, objective reasonableness is a pass/fail benchmark; while unreasonableness is punishable, more than mere “reasonableness” should be present for reward. 

Use of force training must go beyond objective reasonableness. Law is only a starting point. Training should encourage restraint, but not at the cost of reluctance. Officers should, as a default, embrace the concept of incident stabilization – the reduction of risk, the slowing of time, the maintaining of options, the collection and processing of information, and the reliance upon specialized resources. I cringe at the term de-escalation, as it has too narrow of application. Stabilization is broad enough to address a situation’s strategies, tactics, intrusiveness, attitude, intent, and force.

Officers must consider incident strategy before considering tactics or force. Strategies (and operational philosophies) fall on a spectrum of sorts. At one end: slow, static, methodical, deliberate, calm, distanced, containment; at the other end: fast, dynamic, urgent, aggressive, intrusive, approach or entry. Generally speaking, officers should rationalize and defend any departure from stabilization into action-based strategies, based on the urgency of threats or dangers. This practice is legally defensible, safe, effective, and follows basic risk management theory.

Decisions on police force should follow a simple mental process, in this order of priority:
1.    Assessment of the situation (Priority of Life),
2.    Objective or goal (arrest; seizure; defense; other),
3.    Strategy (stabilize àact),
4.    Tactics,
5.    Force.

Lastly, when force is used by a police officer, it should be done with confidence and decisiveness. While quantum of force cannot be precisely measured, it should be sufficient in amount, duration, type, and degree to accomplish the purpose, but not exceed Constitutional allowances.


1.    Codifying Adaptability
1.1.   Complexity & Systems
1.1.1. Rules – Adaptive – Creative spectrum
1.1.2. Cynefin framework
1.1.3. Linear vs Non-Linear
1.1.4. Finite vs Infinite Games
1.1.5. Open- vs Closed-Loop
1.2.   Tactical Philosophy – How vs Why
1.3.   Decision evaluation
1.3.1. Time & Effectiveness
1.3.2. The Professor vs The Caveman
1.4.   Process vs Outcome
1.5.   Stress & Fitness
1.5.1. Capabilities
1.5.2. Demands
1.5.3. Learning
1.5.4. Resiliency
1.6.   Risk Management
1.6.1. Consequences vs Urgency vs Probability
1.6.2. “Stacking the Deck”
1.7.   OODA Loop
1.7.1. Implicit Guidance & Control
1.7.2. Incestuous Amplification
1.7.3. Feedback Loops
1.8.   “The Doctor in SWAT School” Story 
1.9.   Generalism vs Specialism

2.    Emotional Intelligence
2.1.   Self-Awareness
2.2.   Self-Regulation
2.3.   Social Skill
2.4.   Empathy
2.5.   Motivation

3.    “Left of Bang” – USMC Combat Hunter Program
3.1.   Behavioral Clusters
3.1.1. Uncomfortable
3.1.2. Comfortable
3.1.3. Dominant
3.1.4. Submissive
3.2.   Applications

4.    Standards and Consequences of Police Actions

4.1.   Civil Law; Criminal Law; Policy
1.1.   Science; Training; Experiences
1.2.   Self; Peers; Supervisor; Culture
1.3.   Community; Citizens

2.    Crisis Response & Intervention 
2.1.   Mental Health / Emotional Crises / Cognitive Disability
2.2.   Stabilization vs De-Escalation

3.    Human Factors & Stress
3.1.   Response Time
3.2.   Adaptations & Distortions 
3.2.1. Physiological 
3.2.2. Perceptive
3.2.3. Cognitive

4.    The Illinois Model™ framework
4.1.   Priority of Life
4.1.1. Sense-making
4.1.2. Situational Awareness
4.2.   Mission / Objective
4.2.1. Goal development
4.2.2. Search & Seizure case law
4.3.   Strategy / Tactics
4.3.1. Urgency
4.3.2. Use of Force
4.4.   Team Skills
4.5.   Individual Skills & Equipment

5.    Situation Report (SitRep)
5.1.   Identifying incident priorities
5.1.1. Situation
5.1.2. Mission
5.1.3. Strategy
5.2.   Providing briefings & giving direction 
5.3.   Communicating on radio & face-to-face

6.    Report Writing
6.1.   Investigative
6.2.   Tactical

7.    Case Studies (throughout & customized for class needs)
7.1.   Tactical Decision Games
7.2.   Tabletop Simulations 
7.3.   Designing branching scenarios


This course promotes strategic decision-making as a priority over decisions about tactics or force.

Effective strategy puts officers in a safe position (physically, mentally, and emotionally!) to: 
·      observe stimuli and collect information,
·      make sense of the situation,
·      process feedback, 
·      forecast potential outcomes, and 
·      make overall better decisions. 

Officers who make fundamentally sound strategic decisions tend to: 
·      understand the lawful purpose for force,
·      experience greater subject compliance, 
·      use force less often, and
·      effectively rationalize or explain their actions.

This course uses case studies to draw out conversation and debate about many topics regarding [use of force]. Some of the challenging questions posed during the videos:

·      Why did the officers open the door to where the armed subject was?
·      Does the officer have to be factually correct?
·      What clues on mental illness may the officers have missed?
·      How else could the officers have physically taken-down the subject?
·      Why didn’t the officers just wait?
·      What was the need to approach the subject?
·      How does the officer’s tone of voice factor into the contact?
·      Is backing up or retreating an option? Why or why not?
·      Was the Taser and option? Why or why not? 
·      What other tactics, tools, or weapons could have been used?
·      What was the hurry to take him into custody?
·      Could unconscious racial bias have factored into the officer’s decision?
·      What was the purpose for using force….at that precise moment?
·      Does the female subject’s gender factor into force decisions?

The Illinois Model™ is used as a template for decision-making regarding:
·      Search and Seizure – What are the 4thAmendment issues?
·      Strategy – What is the urgency of the situation or threat?
·      Tactics – What positioning, distance, cover, etc puts officers at an advantage?
·      Force – What force options are reasonable, given the circumstances?


This is a highly customizable workshop. The instructor has experience giving this course to a variety of ranks, assignments, and sizes of audiences. It can be adapted into a lecture format for hundreds of attendees, or into intimate small group discussions for groups as small as four (4) to six (6) participants. This course has been moderated for groups over 100 attendees in auditoriums and around intimate conference room tables. 

Generally speaking, here are site requirements:
·      Seating for participants (arrangement of seats depends on workshop size)
·      Tables (depends on whether small group work will be used)
·      Video projector/monitors with audio capabilities (for instructor-provided laptop computer)
·      Whiteboard / chalkboard (if possible, not covered by the projector screen)


Lou Hayes, Jr. has been a full-time municipal Police Officer/Detective/ Sergeant since January 1998, in one of Chicago’s west suburbs. He currently holds the position of Detective Sergeant, as a unit supervisor in the Investigations Division. Previous supervisory roles include: multi-agency SWAT team leader (17 years); Patrol Sergeant; Department Training Coordinator; Firearms RangeMaster. Lou is also Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) trained and a Master Tactical Patrol Officer.

As a department and task force trainer, Lou’s duties and responsibilities include: Adaptive leadership; Search & Seizure case law; Use of Force; Community engagement; Ethics; Crisis Intervention/ mental illness / Excited Delirium response; Investigative & tactical report writing; Weapons (firearms, Taser, less-lethal options); Incident Command; Team tactics; Communication; Active killer response / MACTAC; Medical/trauma aid; Field Training & Evaluation Program (FTO).

He is a certified Force Science® Analyst, using research to help understand human perception, reaction time, performance, and memory under stress.

He co-designed The Illinois Model™ framework of training, policy, and operational decision-making. He designs custom curriculum around the Model’s philosophy, which has formed a suite of courses.

Lou’s spent over ten (10) years as a board member and special event coordinator for the Illinois Tactical Officers Association (ITOA) and a six (6) time presenter at the International Law Enforcement Trainers & Educators Association (ILEETA) annual conference. 

He has presented or taught for organizations, such as: Intergovernmental Risk Management Agency (municipal insurance pool) “Police Chief Steering Committee” (70 police chiefs in Chicagoland); ILEETA annual conference (6-time presenter); the National Patrol Rifle Conference; the Georgia Tactical Officers Association annual conference; Illinois Mobile Training Units #03, #12, and #16 (thousands of police officers); ITOA (numerous events). 

Lou has personally experienced four civil rights lawsuits, involving various search, seizure, and force issues. As a defendant, he has testified in one Federal jury trial (of the four), resulting in a verdict in favor of him, his partner, and his Department. 

One (1) of Lou’s larger recent projects (2014-2018) is teaching for the Northwest Indiana Law Enforcement Academy (NILEA) & Indiana High-Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA). His unique one-day program has been attended by over 800 veteran police officers from 65+ departments. Topics include: use of force case law, crisis decision-making, strategic thinking, force restraint/reluctance, and report writing. 

Lou has a passion for studying complex adaptive systems, emotional intelligence, science-based learning principles, human stress, crisis decision-making, and John Boyd’s theories.  




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