Difference and Different thinking – guest blog from Steve Lenney Chief Inspector Devon and Cornwall Police..

I recently had a lovely email from a Chief Inspector from Devon and Cornwall Police about my most recent blog and article in Policing Insight. As a result Steve Lenney, the officer involved, sent me this blog which he wrote himself on related issues. It is great and he kindly agreed that I could share it with you on here.

Thanks Steve – really grateful

Today’s blog is aimed at being different, to what has gone before, it is about “difference” and its ability to change the world. Why? Because, I was asked to write a blog for a different audience and that to me, is just not efficient, as Brett Mitchel, would say “Steve, you bring LEAN into everything”, well it is just not efficient or effective, to do two, so:
“You will never feel the world, the same way as someone, with impaired vision” what an obvious statement, thought exactly the same principle as “they will never see the world as you, do without the impairment” But “what if” the actual issue is not as simple as a sense? If there are five senses of touch, taste, sight, smell and hearing, what if the difference is not a sensing issue or a physical issue? What if the actual, thinking…. is different?
In the “old days” interviews had guidance that read like this “a good candidate will or may say X” and then extra marks were awarded for ‘trotting out’ the corporate line! Surely, it follows that the candidates are all likely to be thinking and probably be acting the same way? So, would it follow that the actual outcome of their productivity, their reason for being recruited, would be the same or very similar? I have read, that people recruit in the mirror image of how they see themselves? I cannot comment on the validity of that but the 12 lessons that Steve Jobbs taught Joe Kawasaki puts an interesting perspective on “A” players recruiting A+ players but B Players recruit C players and so on! It is just, a perspective.
If you look at the work of Matthew Syedd in Black box thinking or Margaret Heffernan in super chickens and the book “Wilful Blindness” they both comment on the cognitive dissonance of turning a blind eye or interpretation of data, for your own benefit. People feel confident and appear happy when they all “ring the same bell” they all act and think in a similar way and all see the world from a single perspective. It may act as a very comfortable environment but does it actually cause the friction which is needed to light the fire, with causes a step change in how we work, tackle problems or see the world?
Now, what if you do not fit into the mould? What if you cannot be part of that team? Susan Cain’s brilliant Ted talk “the power of introverts”, sheds light on her experience which mirrors that of many introverts but they are not alone.
So, what is the combined outcome in a business? The thinking, acting and perspective, is all likely to be in a similar vein, great, when things are all going well and business is doing well but what about when things are not? What happens then? More of the same solutions, with more gusto? Bring in consultants? What? Remember, “You” recruited a similar approach!
Now to add some “icing on the cake” the business is hierarchical, with a predisposition to a view the world from a perspective, that with rank comes knowledge and just for good measure add in the research that the world’s complex problems, of the 21st century, cannot be addressed by hierarchical, heroic leadership of the past, it needs teams, to address the problems. So are you left with a recruitment process which unintentionally keeps feeding, a similar way of thinking? Which in turn, generates a similar solution to a problem, which should have already been solved by the people who think and act in a similar way to the process, which are already there?
How do those people in the system who “do not feel the world, as many see it” fit in?
An “empathy walk” is the ability to “Put on someone else’s shoes” and see the world how they see it? How does that work when it is the “Hard wired” thinking, which is different? I do not know.
I loved “top trumps” as kid, People who work with me, know I love data, I recite whole films and can watch the same film back to back over and over again, if something “prickles” my interest, I become obsessed in subject, I love cars…so much so, that I have owned 119 of them, I take everything apart to fix things when they are broken (exciting when it’s the boiler!) but you may not do, what I do, YOU have your own way of doing things, which works for YOU.
Now, imagine a world, where huge groups of people, all play together, they all get on, they all communicate with a similar etiquette and rules of correspondence and engagement are followed to the “T” and ‘teeth are sucked’ when anything or anyone, acts outside of the agreed “club” framework. What are you going to do? How are you going to feel, when you do not fit in? Are you working even harder to fit? Is it more or less tiring? At what point will you sit down, shut up and comply or worse still leave?
So, time travel is now required “ We are on the bridge of a ship its 2330 hrs , April the 14th the year, 1912  Captain Smith is speaking with Bruce Issmay” the ship is holed and going to flounder, there are not enough life boats and people are going to die. What if? They did not “take to the life boats”? What if they put the ship into reverse, at full speed? Would a the hole , which was circa 280 feet in length, at its widest part 6cm, actually drain by the water passing 600 feet of undamaged hull, would it actually creating a vortex, which actually stops the ship sinking? Would you say something? Would you pop your head up and say, a single word? And would they listen? Would they see the problem from a different view point? I do not know and I am not sure that it would have worked but conventional thinking says, “Take to the boats, women and children first”. The outcome was not great!
Todays and tomorrows problems will not be solved by heroic leadership, people who believe that “command and Control” will save the day, are likely to disappointed, teams of people with a clear vision and the ability to embrace “difference”, put, around a table or a  problem, people who think and act differently, who can find, common ground, amongst themselves, to “rub and annoy” each other to find a solution, for the greater good, while learning to live with each other and accept each other’s “difference” are the teams, which will genuinely make a difference in the world.
If we do not embrace “difference” internally, how are we ever going to do it externally? We use independent advisory groups to comment on our decisions and process because they think and act differently, yet we have difference, inside as well.  The recruitment of direct access officers at Inspector and Superintendent is based on bringing in new ideas and a fresh perspective before they “go native” and are so influenced by the culture that they do not see it with the same “fresh eyes” perspective but what about the difference within the organisations, we work in? And what are you doing to harness the power of difference, in the things which are in “your gift”?
I am a complete introvert with Asperger’s and dyslexia, I sure as hell, do not spell things in the world, as you do and sure as hell, do not see things as you do. We are just different and that is a really good thing. Try seeing it like this:  You may feel uncomfortable in my ‘pants’ because they are mine, People with a difference can feel uncomfortable in a process which does not accommodate them, comfortably, like “you” wearing my pants! (If you want to try? Please message me!!!) You will never get the best out of people when they are uncomfortable and when you are crying out for things to be different, do not make things  “one size fits all” it is just not effective!
In ‘LEAN’ process terms, the eighth waste is “TEAM knowledge”, we need more difference in the teams, with different knowledge and perspective and the flexibility to allow them in, on their own merit, not just compliance, of the norm!
Till next time…be different or least let people be different, it gives a different view…
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1 Response to Difference and Different thinking – guest blog from Steve Lenney Chief Inspector Devon and Cornwall Police..

  1. Mr Nima Movassagh says:

    Yes by embracing difference you can make a difference in the police force. Unique research is produced in this manner and new perspectives are brought forward especially with the current threat of cybercrime and cyberattacks against government websites and breaches of commercial data and so on.


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