5 Keys to Police Strategy Development & Execution

Coming up with a good idea is useless without plans for something to do with the idea. Ideas are just thoughts without a vision of where they will take you.  A vision will need objectives and strategies to achieve them.  Executing the strategy may end up being a waste of time if no one is watching how it performs and is prepared to make adjustments along the way.  Thompson, Peteraf, Gamble and Strickland (2012) suggest five stages of strategy making and execution in Crafting and Executing Strategy that are fundamental to giving strategy its best shot at success.

These are easily adaptable to the business of policing.

1.  Develop the agency’s strategic vision

Create the agency’s strategic vision looking down the road in terms of years, several years, instead of months or the next year. Thoughtfully craft the agency mission and articulate it simply and clearly in writing.  The broad mission for all police departments does not vary too much, however, the agency can differentiate itself from the others by detailing how the department delivers services, interacts with with the community and sees itself in relationship to the community can be expressed by establishing a set of values.  These values will guide the journey through the vision and mission.  Above all when this is done: say what you mean and mean what you saw, then, walk the talk. Always.

2.  Set objectives

Don’t just set any objectives, set S.M.A.R.T. objectives, stretch a little now and then to make sure the agency is actively pursuing the vision and mission by invigorating the agency.  The objectives will be the source of measuring efforts, so make them worthwhile.  Most importantly, the objectives have to have a direct nexus to the agency mission.  No degrees of separation are allowed here.

3.  Craft the strategy

Craft is the operative word for this key.  A little science, a little standing principle, a little art, a little intuition, a heavy commitment and a lot of finesse.  These are the details that provide the how the objectives will be met.  Like the objectives themselves, the strategy has to be very focused in order to achieve the objectives effectively and efficiently.

4. Execute the strategy

Put the plan to work, and work it like it was planned to be worked.  Stay focused and make sure all of the efforts are effective.  Make sure everyone is on board from the top down and move those that are not on board out of the way.  Verify that notes are being taken and data (only what is needed) is being retained; that will be more than handy soon.

5.  Monitor developments

Intervene if the train is derailing and have a plan to disembark altogether if parts of the strategy are leading to a wasteful escalating commitment.  Nothing is wrong with adjusting the strategy on the fly as long as there is a good reason.  Anything can challenge the execution of the best-made plans.  For policing, anything from budget changes to social, economic or political change or some combination of any and all of the above can create a need to fine tune the strategy at the drop of a hat.

Sound strategy starts with having the right goal.
Michael Porter


© 2014 David A. Lyons

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