Outcomes Based Training & Education/Adaptive Leadership Workshop...Lessons I Learned by Fred Leland

The 4 days I spent this past week at the United States Military Academy participating in a 3 day workshop which focused on Outcomes Based Training and Education (OBT&E) and the Adaptive Leadership Methodology (ALM) which were simply stated, outstanding.

The 3 days of training were hosted by COL Casey Haskins, Director of the Department of Military Instruction (DMI) at the US Military Academy West Point NY,  the father of OBT&E, and  by Majors Chad Foster, Joe Katz, and CPT Al Vigilante of DMI.

I learned so much over the 3 days it will be hard for me to put it all down here in this post but I will do my best to give you the lessons I learned while there. The dialog brought about by the multiple fields of military, science psychology and law enforcement opened the mind to new innovative ways of  training reminded me of the insight set forth in the book, The Medici Effect. 

MEDICI “Intersectional ideas are those resulting from combining concepts from multiple fields - areas of specialization gained through education and experience - as compared to those created traditionally by combing concepts within a field - noted as directional ideas. Success in intersectional idea generation is dependent upon breaking down barriers of association that would more than likely indicate a “non relationship” or at best limited context between or among fields.  

… where different cultures, domains, and disciplines stream together toward a single point.  They connect, allowing for established concepts to clash and combine, ultimately forming a multitude of new ground breaking ideas.  This place, where the different fields meet, is what I call the Intersection. And the explosion of remarkable innovation that you find there  is what I call the Medici Effect… (stemming from the) remarkable burst of creativity in fifteenth-century Italy.”

I do not mean to get to philosophical here but I experienced this effect during this training session. The open-mindedness, and open and honest, candid dialog that took place ensured the proper environment  for effective learning to take place. There were no egos in the room just folks looking to make themselves better, so they can make those they train and lead better. Powerful stuff!

Keep in mind what is written here are thoughts I had based on the training put here for you and for me to think about, explore and utilize in professional development. So any comments are more than welcome, just click on the comments section at the bottom of the page and have at it.

“Effectiveness over Efficiency”

The Boyd Cycle is how we process information and make decisions in our daily lives. We utilize this process of observation-orientation-decision and action to see the world around us, orient to what we perceive is going on and then based on this observation and orientation we make decisions and take actions to accomplish certain objectives based on what our goals or intent is. As law enforcement and security professionals we need to not only understand the Boyd cycle but we need to condition it through training so that we become more effective at applying it on the street, security post, campus environment etc. In short the training comes down to making the individual and organizational BOYD CYCLE more effective.

Effectiveness is the key word in my mind. The words of COL Casey Haskins  that rang in my ears were, “When setting organizational goals related to training, focus on outcomes.” What is it we expect and officer to do?  “Once those outcomes are identified develop training programs that focus on effectiveness over efficiency.”

Let ponder effectiveness over efficiency and how it relates to what we do. The outcome we are looking for in our professions is to Protect and Serve. Now in the our strategy to Protect and Serve we must keep in mind all aspects of the conflicts and problems we face, in there many forms. For a law enforcement officer or a safety and security professional this takes numerous critical tasks working in synergistic way. So knowledge of conflict and violence and problem solving are critical components to this equation. 

We talked some about marksmanship training at the conference and how we teach. With the current standards surrounding marksmanship we focus on task, conditions and standards. The task is to be able to safely and effectively hit a target. The conditions in most locations is still in 2009 to this in a static range environment, using silhouette targets… The sole standard is to qualify with an 80% score. All our training and this includes recruit and in-service training for veteran officers our sole focus is to qualify officer and we do this efficiently. But is efficiency enough? is it enough at preparing young and veteran officer for the threats and problems they may face on the streets, campuses and buildings they are to protect that require them to use their firearms? I think and I believe you all would think based on your experiences on the range and an honest, candid assessment of that training that this type of training, although we have completed the tasks of putting bullet son a target 80% of the time and meeting qualification standards, does not meet the requirements of the jobs we must do.

So what is the outcome of the current way we train? We have pushed folks through training with a qualifying score in an efficient way hundreds of guys a year in Massachusetts alone and thousands across the country.  The question then comes to mind does this training make them effective on the street? Can they walk-talk and communicate with an adversary and assess threats appropriately? can they if need be shoot accurately when being shot at themselves, statistics prove otherwise. 14-20% hit rates are common according to FBI statistics in real life gun fights that take place the vast majority of times 7 yards and closer. There have been some fine trainers in our profession who have realized this and have change the training methodology to incorporate the attributes of problem solving and threat assessment, adaptability, fitness etc. But the agencies across this country getting this type of training on a consistent basis is few and far between.  This must change.

My thoughts are if a large bureaucratic top/down agency such as the Untied States Army can make changes to better prepare their men and woman, make them more effective at the tasks they must perform, then it is a given us smaller agencies can do so as well. Training must not only focus on tasks, conditions and standards, it must also include the attributes that are required in individuals and teams, organizations to carry out the mission. these attributes require some deep thought, yet I would be willing to bet they are in most agencies mission statement and policies and procedure manuals as only words!

The attributes that need to be in each professional and included in their training are things such as insight, imagination, creativity, adaptability, strength of character, a constant learner and teacher. Initiative, fitness, integrity, selflessness and ACCOUNTABILITY. These attributes can be implemented. The Army at West Point and several other location using OBT&E have the outcomes documented over the last year to prove the effectiveness of including these in attributes in a synergistic way with various task conditions and standards and the results are quite frankly outstanding.

We need to stop isolation training to push students through training. Although this may be efficient it is indeed putting ineffective protection professionals on the streets.

Problem Solving verses Procedures

Another issue that relates to OBT&E and adaptability that I learned is critical and I have been thinking and ranting about for quite some time is that we need to develop problem solvers and those willing and able to take initiative. This means removing policies and procedures that prevent initiative and we have way too many of those hindering professionals from doing their jobs.

This can be done by some serious work and thought about how our responsibilities have change and what is required of the frontline in performing their jobs. we need to consider what are the outcomes we are looking for in our agencies and then set those conditions as part of our ethos. Then develop and nurture the attributes and skills necessary as they will be applied on the street. Policies and procedures that hinder initiative create major problems in dynamic situations. Yes I know it goes against the grain of what we are use to and that we have all been taught checklists, in the form of policies and procedures and have utilized them for years, but please for a moment think about them and think about how many times you as a leader have  stated to a person on the frontline “why didn’t you do this or that, only to have  a blank stare looking back at you with a statement such as we were waiting on you sir?” There needs to be some serious discussion on this topic in our professions. Yes its hard work and yes you will have more freedom as leaders and more freedom on the frontline. But freedom does not breed infectiveness, what it does breed in my view is both EFFECTIVENESS and EFFICIENCY.. You get both!

The freedom I am talking about is not free-reign, it is actually more work because we are constantly learning-unlearning and re-learning, taking advantage of every opportunity to evolve. Everyone takes ownership of the mission, goals and strategies set by the organization and that buy in, creates and nurtures accountability both individually and organizationally. This accountability improves effectiveness at  all levels including we are more free to maneuver utilizing operational art and the appropriate tactics based on the current conditions and any changes to those conditions in timely manner. In short I learned they makes us better professionals and safer at doing what it is we do.

I will write more on the how too do this in the upcoming days and weeks.

in the end it was a pleasure and honor to participate in this training and the back and forth sharing of information we all had during the training, breaks and night out to dinner where the learning unlearning and re-learning continued. Unbelievable group of folks we have serving us. they are serious about getting it right.

Stay Oriented!

Fred