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There is supporting theory in Homophily and Ethnocentricity for further reading in this area. I realise that this is tradition and that it pays to have established career pathways, but more complicated questions around these traditional routes must be considered. If we are constantly recruiting from our comms room, what is the knock on impact on resilience in there?

How do we pay for the constantly rotating training and development? How do we develop deep skills and consistency? Moreover, on the above point, they are very different jobs. Does this really lend itself to problem solving and long-term relationship building? Why on earth would anyone want more? Having spent a lot of time in this area of research, what can we actually do to make a real difference? The first is to take note of Einstein:.

We really need to step away from numbers as an outcome, and treat them as a measure. We need to address underlying issues with our recruitment strategies, such as the fact that the majority of applicants find out about constabulary jobs via word of mouth or by religiously checking the website.

The answer to this question lies in focused community engagement; the building of relationships in communities where we have little to no representation. Our staff and officers are role models, they are just often sucked into the system, with little time to invest in doing the more traditional police work of building relationships and cultivating trust.


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In many ways, this is actually a part of the evidence for the existence of neighbourhood policing. Building relationships in the community will create social connections, and these may lead to new lines of recruitment and new flows of information. How do we look to address the value of information passed between our existing employees and potential candidates? This innocent practice has great influence on who becomes a police officer, and whilst changes here may be culturally painful, it may be time to totally rethink how we approach recruitment. The more we propagate existing recruitment strategies, the more value there is in knowing someone who has been through it.

And finally, we have to look beyond the numbers and look instead at why the numbers are there. The original problems identified in the Scarman and Macpherson reports centred around legitimacy; they were about fair treatment and mutual respect. They were about procedural justice, improved connection and communications between the police and our diverse communities, and they were about dialogue — making sure that forces actually listen. We see departments up and down the country chasing increased percentages, whilst underlying causes like unconscious bias are left relatively unaddressed.

And finally, we fail to consider what success looks like. The issues above are being addressed by the College of Policing and HMIC, and despite being told on many occasions that they speak a different language, they are persisting with issues such as unconscious bias and valuing difference. Diversity is about percentages? It is what it was about when the conversation started, and despite being rudely hijacked by New Public Management techniques, it is still about that today.

This is difficult for me to write. I know that many officers will read this and feel angry. If you mention direct entry DE from here on in , there is an automatic and visceral dislike that shows itself, even when some try to conceal it. Not everyone feels like this, but I would say that this is a majority opinion — and one that I held myself several years ago. It takes courage, resilience, and an ounce of critical thinking that allows judgement to be suspended whilst a level of support is provided.

What I can see though, is a desire for the rationale behind the changes that are happening, and I think that desire is justified, rational and deserved. Maybe officers and staff would be more accepting of these changes, if the rationale for them was shared and discussed in an open way? So, why do we have Direct Entry? Maybe this will help with the rationale part.

The Beauty of Blue Sky Thinking (And why we find it so hard) - Chemical R&D | Chemical R&D

The police have a very strange employment arrangement. When I speak to people outside the police, this is the strangest thing to them. Short of gross misconduct, illness or injury, or committing crime, police officers are set for their career, which is now up to and over 38 years long. This employment arrangement makes for organisations that have very static work forces backed up by official turnover rates.

Officers in turn often filled staff positions, as the function that was performed by those staff members was still essential. Officers are often a lot more expensive than staff, so this made for quite nasty efficiency figures in some positions. Now, movement between forces is also quite rare. Transferee programs are often in short supply and carry low numbers. Freeze recruitment through austerity and this means even less movement. You are left with relatively large organisations that carry the same staff, for many, many years, up the same linear rank progression, who rarely leave their constabularies, and rarely receive perspective from other forces.

To compound this, outsiders who transfer in are often returned to uniform constable and their prior experience disregarded — ultimately having to start again. Relationships are very, very important in this environment, you are working with the same people in the same surroundings for decades. What does the above tell us about the physical structure of police forces?

It tells us that they are insular. And when you look at how officers learn to lead within these structures, this insularity is further reinforced. Within the UK policing landscape, there is an under-developed leadership infrastructure. The MOD, the NHS, and Education all have leadership programs that are decades old, with bespoke academies, programs and career pathways. Despite the odd course, and a singular fast track, or high potential track that used to carry around 50 officers nationally per year, police leaders by and large learn to be leaders from current police leaders.

And until you hit senior level NPCC , the leaders you learn from are usually within your own constabulary. If you also look at the custom and practice around police promotion, you will see that current leaders always hold the keys to the promotion of future leaders. You need personal backing to apply for this too.

In private industry, tight groupthink leads to organisational failure. Competition keeps organisations innovating and changing, or they are quickly left behind and become forgotten. There is a constant pressure to learn. In public service the operating model is very different, but the pressure to push to change is absent, there are no boards of shareholders eager for profit.

There is a complex accountability system, and it does have the power to drive reform, but events that are playing out now show how difficult this system is to navigate. My research blog here illustrates that there is a lot more chance of success in the police recruitment system, if you already have police connections.

I am currently studying social isolation in policing for my PhD, looking specifically at the range and number of external connections that officers keep following joining the police. I lost many of my external friends when I joined the police. A small number happened quickly, but the majority were lost over time to the shifts, and the cancelled rest days, and the tiredness, and ultimately the values that I had to uphold. The camaraderie, the support networks and the friendships made because of this are — I would think — unique, and very, very strong.

If you put the above two paragraphs together, the end conclusion is that recruits often know police officers, and police officers often have quite tight social circles. This can lead to a tight recruitment pool, that we may struggle to break due to the passing of information between tight social circles that sustain themselves passed the point of police recruitment. When people ask for an evidence base for direct entry, one only has to look at the systems that maintain the profession.

We have special employment conditions that ensure the longevity and stability of our workforce. And our recruitment is sustained by the tight social circles that we maintain through the nature of the work that we do. Direct Entry directly challenges the above structure, ultimately breaking the insularity by injecting new experience into the leadership structure.

People can re-train and apply for any job they want, at any level of experience that they want.

The Beauty of Blue Sky Thinking (And why we find it so hard)

Police rank is a structure peculiar to the police, and the way that we see the world is filtered through the epaulettes that people wear. Direct Entry challenges this construct, and linear progression, and time served, and those are 3 incredibly established pillars of our culture.

The challenge to these structures challenges the way we see the world, and that results in that pit of the stomach unease when schemes like these are discussed. There are some fundamental philosophies behind direct entry that bother me. I also understand that bringing in new experience, world views and skills can benefit policing. There is a fundamental assumption however, that the employment market is one of the silver bullets for culture change — and I think this under-estimates the efforts needed to bring about impactful reform.

I think Direct Entry challenges the police world view, I think it exposes the police to elements of competition and challenge that have been present in almost every other labour market for decades. With significant resilience and internal support, candidates can do great things, and I personally hope that they do. There is something distinctly neoliberal about direct entry: It presumes that external candidates will have the influence to really break that insularity. I would point out at this point, that insularity does not equal poor performance. But, there are some ideological discussions to have here.

Not I, but I would open my mind to having it tested — which is essentially what DE is. I wrote this blog because I understand that people will want simple answers to why direct entry is here. There are reports into senior officer misconduct, several notable policing scandals, poor diversity, and an employment and leadership system that develops very tight views of the world. Well, this is a good question, but the answer is a resounding no. There is no test constabulary, where we can drop external candidates in and see how they perform in comparison to control groups.

There is also an abundance of evidence that it works elsewhere, with forces across Europe and the world using their version of direct entry over many years. The question should not be, where is the evidence that this will work, it should be what was the evidence that led to this becoming an option. This in turn leads to questions about whether DE will go some way to solving, or contributing to wider solutions that work towards mitigating them.

Only time will tell, but I do know that the louder the service protests the changes, the more it evidences the insularity. I have had the chance to take several training sessions over the previous weeks, and I asked the attendees:. There were some more, but these formed the general themes across most of the sessions. Now, the interesting thing to me, was the level of consistency that these answers seemed to generate.

It suggests that we all may have a very strong image of what a police leader is in our heads. Discussions of big public order incidents, or frightening confrontation and fighting feature regularly, as do discussions of how particular incidents containing conflict shape the way that we view the world. It is also worth thinking about how the work that officers do has shaped their idea of leadership over the last few decades. This type of work lends itself to command based leadership. Operational decisions are made in the short term, to short term spikes in crime.

Long term decision making takes a back burner, as do strategic infrastructure things like IT and our estates. Across the Western world, crime types are changing. Traditional property based crime is falling, and we are seeing the way we view and deal with vulnerability revolutionised. These changes are causing huge pressure on the frontline, and in the context of austerity, they are compounded to the point of making officers feel almost left behind.

We will still face public disorder, burglary and assaults as a matter of course, but these will be inter-mixed with child protection, mental health and social deprivation. The problems facing police are complicated, and they require fundamental changes in infrastructure of forces and re-investment in areas previously left untouched. Basically, ignoring hidden demand will only bite you in places like officer wellbeing and the ability to respond to calls within a few years — ignore it and the short term benefit will be greatly outweighed by the long term cost — especially in terms of looking after our officers.

Whilst we may still need our police leaders to protect the ability to respond to public disorder and traditional crime, we also need leaders who will look to the future and make difficult decisions about what a force actually looks like and how it responds to varying calls demanding lots of differing levels of service. Demanding omni-competence of our officers may mean that we create a perfect storm of pressure, where every officer has to be everything, to everyone. This is not sustainable, and we have to recognise that our people have strengths in particular areas, where they may serve the public at their best.

This is the start of acknowledging that we need to be more sophisticated in the way that we send our officers to jobs, and ensure that we have high levels of skill in particular people, rather than average levels of skill across the board. We need a selection of leaders with different strengths, some of whom can manage difficult partnerships with IT companies over time, developing tools that mix operational need with managing public value. We need leaders who can work in long term collaborations, developing approaches to vulnerability that concentrate on prevention and protection, not just catch and convict.

We need leaders who can spot the changes on the horizon and put in places long term plans to transform police organisations into something that roll with the times, rather than respond in atrophy to demand that we saw coming a long time ago. And, we need leaders who can confidently lead large incidents of public disorder, and command critical incidents with skill and care.

If you can find me a leader that can do all that with equal skill and ability, I shall eat my hat at 2am refs… So if we bear the difference that we need in mind, it makes sense that we consider how we select and develop our leaders now? We still need command based leadership. We still need levels of process and management. We still need leaders who can work with others and plan for the long term, chipping away at entrenched societal problems. The trick — and not just for constabularies — is to recognise that the stories that we tell, and the stories that we hear, may not be the stories that we need.

She was small, not imposing, there was no… gravitas.. That idea had caused a judgement to be made in a moment of interaction — something that we cops are very good at. Each constabulary will have its own idea of what a leader is. This is fine, as long as that idea is sufficiently wide enough to meet the service that we propose to provide. We have moved on from that, and the service we offer is wider and more complicated than ever envisioned even a decade ago.

They are more powerful than you think. The feedback has been extremely negative on social media despite this being out in the public realm for many months; it seems that some will hate the change that is coming, and see it as an attempt to impose barriers on an open profession that has stayed in some families for generations. As an officer with a degree, people ask me if it has ever been of use regularly.

It just happens in my head, and this is a point at the crux of many arguments. To be fair, no one has said that anyone is bad at their job. This has never been part of the reason for the EQF and it never will be. Some of the best courses in policing change the way that people operate in their jobs forever, and these are only a few weeks long. What may happen with knowledge gained over several years? Just to make it very clear, it will not be compulsory for serving officers.

Experience is the cornerstone of learning, and common sense is indeed needed in vast quantities. The decision making in policing contains significant risk, and it has to be communicated in a way that the public interacting with us understand. Could it mean that our decisions become more informed? Personally, I think we can — and should — be better than this. You may have seen that all of these factors are currently being developed by the College of Policing. A Profession is therefore a different thing to being professional, which I think of as doing your job well and having pride in your work — both of which are present in policing in abundance.

I think the communication in this area has been lacking in parts, not just centrally, but within individual forces too. I would feel aggrieved too if I believed I was being called unprofessional…. No one is calling anyone unprofessional. Again, in fairness, there is a lot of truth in this statement. A lot of good learning has been proven to be context specific, so you learn whilst you do.

The training consisted of learning legislation by rote and applying it to written down scenarios, along with lifesaving and defensive tactics. I found this method of training very painful and still do — which is why the College is designing the courses with Higher Education institutions to incorporate large sections of learning whilst doing. A vocational degree like nursing has a large percentage of its course situated in the wards where they will eventually work.

The old fashioned idea of a degree gained by sitting in a dusty library discussing obscure theory is not applicable in this context in any way, and suggesting that it is is nothing but hyperbole. This is a valid opinion, it is possible that this change may affect diversity.

It is important however, to realise where we are critiquing from. We have a a very unrepresentative workforce, and we have some way to go before the service reflects our communities whether we should be aiming for that is a whole other blog. The diversity profile of higher education is far better than that of policing, and we must remember that a good proportion of officers will still enter through the apprenticeship route. People looking for answers in this area may be disappointed, it will be a complicated issue that will need a lot of unpicking.

This has been much discussed and it needs to stop. Apprenticeships will be available that allow those without qualifications to join the service, just as the paramedic career pathways allow. In truth, this will mean that those without qualifications will leave the service as a graduate.

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I think this is entirely appropriate for the actual work that an officer undertakes and think it is a hugely positive step. This means our officers will receive higher levels of training and education, that prepare them for not just taking action, but also understanding the wider context that the service sits within. The truth is that decision making at the sharp end is getting more difficult as we start to interact with risk and vulnerability more and more. Training is currently also variable, and this means that probationers in Constabulary 1, have less training than Constabulary 2.

Not only does this put practitioners at some risk, it also provides a differing level of service depending on where you live the use of Restorative Justice is a classic example. The EQF stops this in its tracks and establishes national standards that uniformly equip our officers. It establishes a common language and framework of understanding, a base level of knowledge, and introduces all officers to continuing professional development before even joining the service. It will have its challenges and it will have its speed bumps. It does however form a huge part of any Profession.

This Wednesday we held a discussion on leadership in policing. The questions that were posed were as follows:. The debate was well attended and we had 59 people tweet using the hashtag and several more who participated without. It was a busy chat, with tweets and a reach of almost , These numbers are all well and good, but what do they mean? Where is the learning? WeCops chats are an opportunity for people to talk, share and comment about a subject proposed by the person leading the chat.

Before there was a WeCops, discussing police leadership on Twitter was impossible without vitriol and negativity that persisted despite the best of intentions. There are however dangers in the development of this space. If the pendulum swings too far, WeCops becomes exclusive and seen as a niche group of people who run within a bubble. This criticism has already been levelled, and we as a team are working on bringing different hosts and subjects to the forum as often as we can. This is especially true of participants and lurkers: Q1 was an interesting mix of those people who were either for or against rank removal.

The first largely fell as a set of questions, largely asking why we were removing ranks at all? Leave people in the dark, and the space around this change will be filled with the culture, and the cop culture can be cynical and unforgiving. If ranks are going, what happens to the work we have currently?

Is there a distribution upwards or downwards, or is it going altogether in some cases? Tweets discussing whether the removal of ranks would change behaviour were repeated, and this is a very good point. Removing a silver pip from a shoulder may not change behaviour for the better, so what is the reason for the change? But again, this conversation is absent and this space needs filling with the right information. There were some good contributions from leaders about how they speak with staff currently, and also about some examples where they have listened and acted on feedback.

There was little discussion of true innovation in this area though; very few discussed using new technology, or involving the frontline in making the decisions that affect them it was mentioned, but not by many. Register now who we are. Our registration process is simple, yet comprehensive and is designed for the convenience of our teachers.

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Being a city slacker. It's normal in these areas of blue-sky thinking for there to be documents put forward by a number of people - we encourage it, we're not parochial about the development of thought around these new areas. RCA reviews plan to stage 2, annual fixtures. Warwick Conferences, the training and conference centre at Warwick University in Coventry, indulged in some blue-sky thinking and decided to hold the meeting up on a roof during National Meetings Week.

Sky high meeting of minds. We want hands-on people with their feet in the mud, but with blue-sky thinking and lateral capabilities," Bucaille explains. L'Oreal offers an international ladder to success for inspired individuals who embrace change. Do you know your blue-sky thinking from your idea showers? With a bit of blue-sky thinking , a super-economical three cylinder cc engine was developed which is also light and compact enough to make the most of every precious inch.

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As a solution, the much-publicised home zone concept aims to eliminate the conflict between road users which our control systems nurture, but again where is the blue-sky thinking promised by our highway designers? Pedestrian crossings 'total waste of time' Mailbag letters also appear online at www.