Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Police and protocols

Recently, by accident I was listening to the radio when a quite good show was on. The program gave an insight in the workings of the police. The story was about the arrest of three criminals, and as the reports was "embedded", one could follow all the activities.
It turns out that during arrests, three teams are involved:
- the "AT" - the arrest team
- the "OT" - the observation team
- the "RT" - the research team

The observation team was simply responsible for providing observation on all relevent information on the criminal's behaviour: where were they, what were they doing, how many other people where there, what where the properties of the location (rooms, setup, access points, etc), possibility of weapons. They provided the arrestteam with a constant stream of updates of relevant information.

The researchteam would have its role after the arrest, carefully researching the premises (including cars, computers, etc) on signs (fingerprints, drugs, administration, etc).

The arrestteam had a large responsibility: to arrest the criminals, in such a way that minimal risk was created for the police, citizens and the criminals.
A number of people were interviewed, being asked to comment on the succes of specific arrestteams. Two key succesfactors that came up were "protocols" and "local intelligence".

A protocol is a set of specific steps, triggered when a specific situation needed to be created and solved. It turned out that AT's had about 3 key protocols: make an arrest in a house, stopping a moving car (and arrest the people inside it) and arrest someone on the street. And it turned out that these protocols were practiced many many times, to the point that people would automatically be able to perform them.
Local intelligence is the ability to succesfully improvise when during execution of a protocol, the circuimstances required this.

Hm, protocol and local intelligence?
It triggered the following thoughts:

We are talking about helping a (interchangable) group of people to deliver optimal results when faced with a certain triggering situation. That's what I would call a business process.
They recognized that the better these people were able to perform the protocol the less risks and the more success the groups had. We tend to forget this in BPM, or leave it to "change management".
They practice these protocols many many times. This is something in business processes is not done often. We might get a bit of training, read the process instructions or get training on the job. Not a bad idea: process practice training.

As a side though: I see many (BPM/IT))projects struggle for a related reason: lack of protocol and lack of protocol practice.....

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