Destruction & Creation: Are You Locked on One Way of Thinking or Are You Adaptable, Approaching Tactical Dilemmas?

In crisis situations are you closed minded and locked into one specific way of handling situations or are you open minded and adapt tactics to meet the circumstances you find yourself in as you attempt to solve tactical dilemma’s?  Is your chosen method wrapped up in a sole technique you learned or, have you learned to artfully apply tactics based on the foundational principles in realization the the foundation or checklist alone may not help you in reaching sound decisions and the outcomes you seek?  The foundational principles are important but we all to often this is, where we in law enforcement stop learning and hence we get locked into doing things the same way. We lose sight of,  its people and ideas blended with policy and procedure that solve the problems we face and this takes adapting tactics in a way that offers safe and effective solutions. 

A simple example:

Approaching the front door of a home or business you respond to. Why are we approaching there on calls? Do we realize it is normally the most fortified entry point and that people expect you to approach from there? If so, why not approach from another location lets say, the back or side door? This simple adaptation of your response just may give you some time to make important observations and improve your orientation as to what's going on and it gets inside the minds and the observation, orientation, decision and action cycles of those inside disrupting their plans, if only for a few seconds. If they meant you no harm you get simply a strange look as to why are you at the back or side door. If something more sinister was in play this simple thinking outside the box (destroying your normal approach and creating a new approach) creates the mismatches to what they expected and gives you an advantage.

To reverse this simple example:

Lets say we approach the front door as you normally do and the normal response we are used to 99% of the time is you knock and someone answers and lets you in but instead today shots ring out as you knock. Where are the mismatches now and how do you respond? Whose plans are disrupted and whose Boyd cycle is thrown out of whack? Who now has the advantage? Closed minded and habitual approaches to solving problems can lead to dangerous outcomes. It is time we go beyond policy and procedure, checklists, yes use them as foundational principles but also realize that some thinking and adapting is needed to be consistently successful. Decision making and understanding why we are taking a certain approach is as least as important as to the action we take and why getting lock in to a certain way of doing things can be detrimental to our success, and the reason we need to get a better grip on how we decide.  

I use the term simple example but “the front door” is, as well ,a common place where bad things happen for cops, be it a raid, warrant service or a disturbance of some kind! What you decide and how you respond depends much on your ability to realize when what you started to do needs to be changed. When what you anticipate is not what you get, your ability to destroy the original plan and adapt or create plan B-Z becomes crucial to the outcomes you seek. This holds true in high risk calls and in those countless unknown risk calls we respond to. You must anticipate changes to the situation BUT never anticipate outcomes. Anticipating changes has your prepared to adapt while participating outcomes has you locked into a certain way of thinking and unprepared. This is why Boyd's work on destruction and creation and Chet Richards analysis is so important to understand and then apply to our way of thinking and then translate to the streets.

Chet Richards the purveyor of Fast Transients and the author of Certain to Win: The Strategy of John Boyd Applied to Business has been digging deeper into Col John Boyd's theories, expanding on the lessons Boyd had to offer, we in law enforcement can lean from.

In this post “Godel, Destruction and Creation” he expands of the need for decisions and the meaning behind Destruction and Creation the bedrock of of Boyd’s ideas and quite frankly important for every cop who works the streets to understand.

“Decisions must be rendered to monitor and determine the precise nature of the actions needed that will be compatible with the goal. To make these timely decisions implies that we must be able to form mental concepts of observed reality, as we perceive it, and be able to change these concepts as reality itself appears to change.”

This quote speaks to the importance of being able to make intuitive decisions and actions in real time as things are happening, not trying to force a tactic or technique into the situation because we were told it how to do it. Its more important that we know how to think and solve tactical problems verses doing what someone told us to do.

“At some point, we’re spending so much energy trying to fix our set of concepts to better represent reality (we’re “intruding into the system”) that we can’t keep up with what’s going on outside and we become confused and our thinking becomes disordered. Note that such energy is not available for doing useful work. It’s entropy, in other words.

Accordingly, whenever we attempt to do work or take action inside such a system—a concept and its match-up with reality—we should anticipate an increase in entropy hence an increase in confusion and disorder.”

Be sure to check out Chet’s post and learn more about this important work. Learning about this will help you open your minds to adapting tactics and most definitely help you improve your safety and effectiveness on the street. The ability to Learn, unlearn and relearn takes hard work and dedication. the information is out there and available all you have to to do is make the time!

Stay Oriented!

Fred