How do we enact change ?

Oftentimes, when talking to officer’s about the state of affairs within their agencies, I hear the same refrain over and over: “Things need to change.” Now, considering the fact that cops are often adverse to change, the fact that they express a desire to change things within their own departments is a bold statement indeed. It’s when they try to identify what to change and how to change it, that
things get a little murkier.

Law Enforcement organizations and their members have long been culturally resistant to change and often only resort to change when absolutely necessary. There are many reasons for this cultural adversity to change, but chief among them is that the fact status quo, “business as usual” approach is considered the safest route and, with few external forces requiring change, there seldom is built the motivation for change. As such, change comes slowly and often painfully.

Whether the goal of change is to increase morale, improve the working environment, or address lingering conflicts within the organization, the result of any efforts towards change should be to improve upon the current condition for the benefit of all. The process of organizational change has been called “the attempt to get people to think, perform, or behave differently”. A key component of successful organizational change is instilling the motivation required to get the organizations members to adapt to change and be willing accept the consequences of change, both intentional and unintentional. Without the motivation to change, the process of successfully implementing change and having people think, perform, or behave differently becomes infinitely more difficult.

The key to a successful change is understanding that all change is not the same in how it affects people and how it should be managed, even within organizations that have might appear to have an overwhelming need to change. Often, the key to enacting meaningful and lasting change is not only to establish a “vision” of successful change, but also to understand the role that “purpose” plays in enacting change.

Identifying the vision of change, or the desired state that the result of change will take the members of an organization is only half the battle. The other half is to build a sense of purpose towards the achievement of change. Purpose, or building the drive within others to accept and promote the change that is needed, is what builds the motivation that is needed to successfully achieve the necessary change for the organization.

If vision is what things will look like to the members of an organization when change is achieved, purpose tells them why they should go there. To create change, show the people of your organization where they need to go and why they need to go there. If they agree with you, change will happen.