Thursday, April 23, 2015

New Ground

Kasey made the cover of Police Magazine. He posted one of the interior pictures on FB with this caption:
"Here is the April 2015 issue of Police Magazine
Randy the business Sensei will be pleased to see the product placement of the One on One Control Tactics - O3CTlogo in a national publication. Also if you look close you can see a flag for Allegiance Fitness in the back ground. And I'm sure Rory Miller will recognize the Chiron Training weapon retention being demonstrated. #represent"
The shout-out is appreciated. And the CDT program (Chiron Defensive Tactics) is a good jumping-off point to something else.

The weapon retention part is good. I want to say it's the best out there and there's nothing else like it, but that's probably not true anymore. Enough people have been exposed to the idea, and been pleased with it, that it has and will spread. And there's always convergent evolution-- many different ways to get to something that works, and many of the things that work will be very similar.

The thing that's important in my head right now, though, is an aspect of permission. Under what circumstances do people and organizations give themselves permission to change? Refusal to adapt is a death knell. But change, especially organizational change, is hard. ConCom explains why...  but there's still a lot of work to do in how to change despite the difficulty.

Incremental improvement, building off of previous foundation is change, but it is very limited. As Dabrowski pointed out (Hat tip to Ann Craig) big personal growth involves a dissolution, a complete destruction and rebuilding of the person you were before. Big growth in a system would require dismantling the system and starting over.

You can get better by continuing to build on your foundation, with diminishing returns, but you have to dismantle them to get paradigm shifting change. And, of course, this level of change is seen as ego or identity destruction and is fought fiercely. ( I know I'm having a good thinking morning when I reheat the coffee four times and keep forgetting to drink it.)

So-- what gave MCSO the internal permission to give us the permission to change our weapon retention? I don't know the absolute answer, but I do know some of the pieces.

  • We cared. The people who needed this weren't some abstract "customer" they were people we worked with and cared about. Friends and colleagues. I think this is important personally, but it was true before change was allowed, so it wasn't the key.
  • We had a different demographic. Thirty or forty years ago, a big part of officer selection was simply size. (And who you knew.) They wanted big men and that was mostly what they hired. If you're teaching (like many military-based systems) 18-20 year-old men in the best shape of their lives, full of ego and testosterone, you can teach them almost any crap and they will make it work. Times change. In trying to make the profession gender and age neutral, there was a definite shift in physical abilities of the average officer. More importantly, there was a much wider range of physical abilities. You could no longer teach crap and expect a former high school linebacker to rely on strength to make it work. But that's not the reason either, because one of the things a modern bureaucracy requires is slavish lip-service to the patently untrue ideal that "all people are the same."
  • The techniques taught at the academy and by my agency simply didn't work. That right there should have been enough... but it wasn't. What they were teaching was measurable: the stereotypical eight-step wristlock takedown to prone cuffing never worked, but it gave you eight easily measurable steps on which to pass or fail a student.
  • People got hurt when things didn't work. Again, that should have been reason enough. But it wasn't. Not until we had a year with so many injuries that people got alarmed. Really alarmed, as in the union was looking into it. Understand that injuries came out of a different budget, it was state workman's comp. But lawsuits came out of the agency's budget. ---And another thing. When things are rare, like shootings, it is often easier to categorize failure as a "fluke" rather than entertain the possibility that you are doing things systematically wrong. Lots of people rationalize away problems until it is too late.
  • I think this was the key. It was the stupidest, most minor of details. We were teaching the academy-approved weapon retention curriculum for a gun grab from behind-- use your weapon hand to pin the weapon in the holster and turn to your non-weapon side to move the gun out of reach... and realized that the turn gave up the third level of retention for our modern type III holsters. We had not changed or seriously looked at our training methods on this subject since before we switched to semis. What we were teaching was actively wrong for the equipment we carried.
All of the other stuff mattered. People cared. But it took something to blame that didn't tie to people or policy to get the permission.

Just one example, and I know it's incomplete. But if you want to break new ground you need to reject old ground. Not out of ego. As a rule you don't change things that work, especially if you're doing it just so you can be in charge.

And there's a method to deconstructing the old practices so that what you build is stronger. It's not, or shouldn't be, just a childish rejection out of pique or spite.

This is already getting too long. Do you or does your organization need to change? If so, what will be required to give that kind of permission?

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Packs Off a plane, home for 26 hours, on the road, home for twelve hours and on a plane, then home for less than nine and on a plane again. And something is happening to my internal wiring, because (so far) I don't appear to be burning out on people. This is more exhilarating than exhausting. We'll see if that keeps up.

And the to-do list is somewhere between ambitious and overwhelming. Especially the writing section. And it's imperative to fight the paralysis that comes with having an excess of worthy goals. Things to do, things to do...

So let's make this quick.

Very few things are zero sum games. Outside of artificially imposed stuff (like the rules in a game. There are only sixteen chess pieces per side, only so many pieces of property in Monopoly) the only truly non-zero sums I can think of are space (literally the surface of the earth) and chemical elements, like Fe, iron. And exposed to human creativity, even those can be tweaked. There are only so many acres in Manhattan, but a skyscraper vastly increases the useable acreage by thinking in three dimensions. Money may have been a zero-sum game when we were on the gold or silver standard (although even then, it was never limited to one metal) but it certainly isn't now, and wealth never has been zero-sum.

Power, absolutely is not zero-sum. Increasing your intelligence does not decrease mine. Becoming more creative will not make me less creative. Your reps in the gym do not prevent me from doing my own reps (ooooh, though-- waiting in line for a squat rack is a zero-sum game. Limited resource of a specific object...until you apply human creativity and go outside and lift rocks.)

Power does have the effect of making other people who want to use power to coerce think. Coercion over powerless people has zero consequences. Coercion over powerful people is always risky. And thus evil people want to be surrounded by all the weak people possible. And they will claim that others getting strong is weakening them.

And look at the mechanics of that one very carefully. Because te other side is to claim that weakening the strong somehow, magically, strengthens the weak.

From a conversation with Anna Valdisseri when we talked in Sheffield. (I like the way she thinks, that's one of my highest compliments.) She had a unique way of looking at it. As best I can paraphrase:
Humans live in groups. We're social animals. When we see ourselves as pack animals we know that becoming more powerful as individuals makes the pack stronger. It's better for everyone. When we see ourselves as herd animals, we want all the other members to be weak because it increases our chances. If everyone is weak, the wolf will get someone else.

When something bad happens and hits the news, is your instinct to learn more and train harder so that you have options if it should ever happen around you? I started carrying regularly after the Luby's shooting in Texas because I realized I could not have contributed unarmed. If your instinct is to randomly disempower the people around you when bad things happen, that's a herd mentality.

Actually wrote this three weeks ago but stumbled on an internal monkey brain problem in the middle. Took a while to work it out.