A Quality Mindset leads to Abolishing the Police

As we watch the closing arguments of the Derek Chauvin trial, it is not difficult to see systemic problems with policing in America. One only need to look at stories like:

  • Patrick Rove, long-time police union president, accused of child abuse and with credible questions of how he was so thoroughly protected by the police hierarchy
  • Baltimore police planting toy guns on people they shot
  • The continued excuses of “human error” and “you need to walk in our shoes”, for example the recent killing of Daunte Wright

Read the Wikipedia entry on United States Police Brutality, which provides an excellent problem statement.

For root cause analysis, read the University of Chicago study that found that America’s biggest police forces lack legality, as they are not answerable to human rights compliant laws authorizing the use of lethal force.

It is impossible not to reach the conclusions that the culture is rotten, there are inherently bad actors, and institutional resistance to change is standing in way of improvement.

Given the continued failures in implementing change, it is time to shift the resistors out of police departments. The only way to effectively do that seems to radically restructure the police, breaking their responsibilities up and sending those responsibilities to organizations better suited for these duties.

This is why I stand for police abolition.

Three year retrospective

This blog is three years old and my experiences as a practitioner of quality and as a leader has been driven during this time by narrative writing. Writing gives the space and time to look back, re-live and re-experience, and ultimately reflect upon our work. Writing these blog posts is an effective way of digesting experience on the job. Through
writing this blog I have attempted to understand situations from various viewpoints and perspectives.

I get asked a lot why I do this, and how I make time for writing. Let’s be honest, there are long periods of time where I do not. But when I do make the time it is for these reasons.

Writing as a catalyst for reflective thought

In an era where lifelong professional learning is continuously promoted, professionals need to continuously learn and take the role of practitioner-researcher. The narrative writing I engage in on this blog plays an important role that aids this ongoing development. Through writing I enhance my reflective awareness.

Writing helps reduce the imbalance I feel between theory and practice. Too often we need to make immediate decisions and it is difficult to balance what-must-happen with what-should-happen. Writing this blog allows me to think critically about my past actions and how these together with theory can inform future practice.

Writing this blog is a way of thinking that helps me in understanding myself; my own actions; my thoughts; my emotions; my experiences. Apart from self-understanding, self-reflective narrative also assists professional learning because it aids professional thinking. In short, writing helps me think, reflect, and develop. I write, therefore I think.

First-order narratives: promoting self-understanding

The narratives in this blog are first-order narratives where I write about my own experiences, as opposed to second-order narratives where the author writes about the experiences of others. Everything I write starts as a challenge or an experience I am processing. This blog rarely engages in journalistic reporting, and when it does report on the news it is always part of reflection.

Through writing about my experiences as a quality professional, and reflecting on them, I strive to construct meanings, interpretations, new knowledge and understandings.

By engaging in systematic reflection I am promoting questioning, and questioning encourages me to think of new possibilities. This is where ideas come from, and this drives my professional quality practice forward.

Conversing with oneself

Conversing with someone else offers the possibility of feedback and exposure to different viewpoints. This is why I look to professional societies as one way to enhance my work. I’ll be honest though that is not as easy as I would like it to be.

Unfortunately, I often feel isolated. People are busy and it is difficult to carve out the time for reflection and discussion. It can often feel that collaboration and sharing about non-project deliverables are limited to non-existent at worst. By blogging I am conversing with myself in public. It would be great to engage in dialogue with people, but I feel this public dialogue is a way to engage with the larger body of knowledge.

I think this is one of the reasons I blogged less after starting my current job. All my time was going into collaborative narratives as I strove to determine what came next in this new role.

Looking deeper into issues

Sitting down and writing a blog post offers time for reflective thought. Sure, I talk about these issues all day, but writing journal entries, because I tend to think about it a lot more, allows me to explore additional dimensions of the issue. Narrative writing affords me the space for focused reflective thinking. This blog is my medium for reflection, questioning, critical analysis, thinking, reasoning, and the building of arguments.

Often I write in preparation for some task or project. Or to analyze how it is progressing and to solve problems.

Creating causal links

A narrative should have an evaluative function; offering valuable information about how the author interprets and connects meanings to lived situations and experiences. A narrative must add up to something; it is more than the sum
of its parts. Through writing this blog I am connecting the various parts of quality that are important to me in a wider whole. And by crafting that whole, develop new learnings to apply.

Blogging is tiring but valuable

I have experienced periods of tiredness, frustration, and a lessened motivation to blog, and this resonates with the argument that practitioners are usually so busy that they have little time for their own writing. This has especially been true during the last year of this pandemic.

However, I strongly view this blog as a core part of my learning, and that learning benefits from the longitudinal process of blogging. Writing about my experiences as a quality professional has promoted detailed observations of my work, analysis of that work, imagined solutions, implementation of such imagined solutions, and re-analysis of alterations to practice. Writing this blog has been an ideal way of showing experiential learning and my own development.

What comes next?

I set myself a goal of writing at least one post a day in March, and I found that amazingly rewarding. Not sure if I can keep that pace up but I am committed to continuing to use this blog space for reflection and development. I hope folks find some use out of that, and I look forward to the various communities this space engenders.

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com

Bring Playfulness to Your Work

Playfulness can soften difficult decisions, conversations and actions that require courage. Having the ability to bring a level of lightheartedness to even the most difficult situations can take the edge of circumstances that might otherwise scare you. Playfulness has the incredible power to disarm even the darkest of circumstances.

It invites courage to play.

Play is a fundamental part of the human experience. We should never forget to bring it to our work. A playful attitude keeps your mind curious. It makes us better problem-solvers.

Play involves an enthusiastic and in-the-moment attitude. When we play, we detach from outside stressors and become completely absorbed in the activity. Play is the ultimate mindfulness.

Do not let play be the first thing that gets lost when stress overrides our lives.

Playfulness is a subtle art. It is bordered by silliness on one side and rudeness on the other side. Be careful to ensure you never are in either of those territories. Men, this is especially critical to us as our culture lets too many sexist, racist and homophobic attitudes slide as humor. Always remember that playfulness is not the same as being funny. I’m not a very funny person, I try to avoid making people laugh. what I strive to do is make people feel included in my curiosity and exploration.

Good playfulness should always connect, never divide.

Take your play seriously! But don’t take yourself too seriously. Point out your own flaws and imperfections in a humorous, confident way. Sincere self-deprecation can be powerful.

People will strive for your success when you show up with playful energy. Make the other person genuinely feel special and watch the magic happen. Playfulness is a gentle invitation for others to follow you if they want to.

Playfulness will reflect in your body language. This is very inviting, and a whole lot of what folks mean as charisma stems from this spark.

By practicing playfulness you will develop an attitude of irreverence where you are in touch with yourself and avoid negativity and drama.

So reflect and ask yourself these questions:

  • How can you approach life with more playfulness? What would happen if you were more playful in your daily life?
  • Where are you lacking playfulness?
  • Who is someone playful you admire? What makes them playful?
  • If you approached life in a more playful way, what brave decisions would you make?
  • How would you show up differently if you were to embrace playfulness?
  • How can you invite more play into your life?

Combating Silo Thinking is Part of the Job

The tendency of employees and managers to identify themselves with their “group,” (i.e. their department or area of specialization) is a engrained instinct that a lot of us grapple with on a daily basis. A big part of systems thinking, of quality thinking, is seeing the big picture – to
be able to analyze and integrate the parts and the whole.

For some reason this comic has me thinking of strategic vision and shared fate and questions of alignment and congruence.

What to Do When You Realize You’ve Made a Mistake

  1. Take responsibilitySay, “I was wrong.” (Don’t say “mistakes were made” or “it didn’t turn out the way I had anticipated” or any other version that deflects or minimizes your personal contribution). Offer a brief explanation, but do not make excuses. Acknowledge that your error had a negative impact on others, and be willing to really listen, without defensiveness, to others’ recounting of that impact. Do not interrupt. Apologize.
  2. Address what you need to do right now. Taking responsibility is critical, as is taking action. This is core to crisis communication, even if your mistake doesn’t constitute a major crisis. Tell others what you are doing right now to remedy the mistake, and distinguish between the parts that can be fixed, and those that can’t. Include what you are doing to address the substantive impact (money, time, processes, etc.) and well as the relational impact (feelings, reputation, trust, etc.) of having been wrong. Be open to feedback about what you’re doing. Over-communicate your plans.
  3. Share what you will do differently next time. Being wrong is messy. Being wrong without self-reflection is irresponsible, even if you hate self-reflection. Take some time to think about what your contribution was to this situation, and identify how others contributed as well. (Try to stay away from using words like “fault” or “blame” — which tend to put people on the defensive.) Then tell those impacted by your error what you’ve learned about yourself, and what you’re going to do differently in the future. For example, you might recognize that you tend to dismiss the input of someone you don’t see eye-to-eye with, and that in the future, you’re going to actively engage her, and consider her perspective. Ask for help where you need it. And ask others to give you frequent feedback down the road on the commitments you’re making.

Continual reminders to myself to do better.

Photo by George Becker on Pexels.com