"Certain men…come to be accepted guardians and transmitters, instructors, of established doctrines...

...To question the beliefs is to question their authority; to accept the beliefs is evidence of loyalty to the powers that be, a proof of good citizenship. Passivity, docility, acquiescence, comes to be primal intellectual virtues. Facts and events presenting novelty and variety are slighted, or are sheared down till they fit the procrustean bed of habitual belief. Inquiry and doubt are silenced by citation of ancient laws…This attitude of mind generates dislike for change, and resulting aversion to novelty is fatal to progress. What will not fit into the established canons is outlawed; men who make new discoveries are objects of suspicion and even persecution.” ~John Dewy, How We Think


What is your attitude when it comes to the established canons inside your department? Are you more interested in fitting in and conforming in an effort “to be” something? Or are you interested in achieving better performance and execution in an effort “to do” something? Can you balance the traditional canons with the novel ideas presented? There is a lot of talk about “change,” but there is also much talk about “this is the way we have always done this” so why change?

Certain people get locked into following the established doctrine to the point they cannot think and solve problems for themselves. When something novel takes place, the mismatches, those anomalies or things new, thing’s, we did not expect, did not see coming, creates friction in decision making so powerful it stops us in our tracks, thus the importance of balancing people and ideas with established doctrine. This balance allows us to understand basic underlying or foundational principles that work, while continuing to evolve and tactically innovate based on the patterns we recognize and the mismatches we need to explore if we are to keep up with and adapt to the unfolding and rapidly changing situation. Novelties (mismatches) are produced continuously in the law enforcement world. Every call we go on, every encounter we make presents itself with patterns we recognize and mismatches, we must seek to understand. Is not situation awareness all about exploring, learning and understanding? In order to thrive and gain the initiative in such a world, we must match our thinking and doing.

Be you a law enforcement leader or street cop are you stuck in “this is how we have always done this” or are you open-minded to adaptability and capable of, making changes to altered situations?