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May 17, 2017

When Is Good, Good Enough? How Leaders Should Talk About Standards of Excellence

The question, “When is good, good enough?” was recently posed to readers in Brian Willis’ law enforcement and training related newsletter What’s Important Now?, which focuses on ways to prioritize decisions in our lives. The question came from one of his readers who is training foreign police officers but is having trouble getting them to meet the standards of the training he is tasked with developing. Conversations about standards and the level of training needed for operators in any protector related profession are essential to have, yet they can often be frustrating. Without an objectively defined goal and end state for each person in your team or organization, it can be easy to be fooled into thinking that the progress you’ve made to get to the level of good, is actually good enough, when it truly isn’t. In this article, I’ll take a look at a few different aspects of what goes into a conversation about standards so that leaders can continue to advance their organizations in the face of constant change.

Avoiding Predictable Pitfalls While Talking About Standards

Before we begin to talk about what should go into a discussion about performance standards, the first thing a leader needs to decide is who will be involved in the conversation. In our work with our clients in the military, law enforcement and security industries, the number one pre-event indicator to an ineffective meeting about ways to elevate an organization through training is when the person leading the meeting has not given deliberate consideration to who will be taking part in the process. While the desire to want to cast a wide net and include many different people in a conversation about performance standards is natural and can be seen as a safer option than only including a few people, the decision to do that is far riskier than it may initially appear.

When evaluating and working to improve an organization through training, there will be two groups or people involved in the process. There will be the people involved in the defining of performance standards and there will be the people responsible for doing the planning to make that a reality. While the planners and support personnel (administrators and trainers) can be in the meeting where standards are defined, it is important that they understand they play a supporting role to the person who is in the room to talk about the operational requirements of the men and women in the organization. The involvement of administrators and trainers should only begin once the standard has been defined and set by the leader of the organization.

The reason why failing to distinguish between these two groups of stakeholders is such a problem is because support personnel have different professional responsibilities, priorities and concerns than the operationally focused person does. As a result, the planners and administrators can have a tendency to bring a conversation to the specifics of what it will take to do something before the end-state is clearly defined, leading to distractions and frustrations from everyone involved. To keep a meeting on track and focused on the essential parts of establishing the standards, the next section will highlight the four key components of a performance related standard.

Establishing Standards: The Four Operation Focused Factors

To talk about the standards of excellence that members of a team should meet in order to be successful in an operational setting in a rational and objective way, there are four distinct factors that should be considered.

The first is:

May 12, 2017

The Importance of Mindset In Policing

Here is a great TEDx talk given by our friend Chip Huth in 2015 that we share as a reminder to protectors, warriors and guardians in our society.  As “us vs. them” mindsets continually bombard us in our media, in our politics and in our community, stepping back to remember that we hold ourselves to a higher standard when we sign up to be a public servant can help ensure we focus on what is important and what it will take to get to successful outcomes in each encounter we have.  Take 10 minutes to watch the video below.


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Lisa Van Horne

April 25, 2017

The Furry Anchor Point: Behavioral Analysis Through a Canine Lens

Let me start by saying that the puppy magnet is real. I get it. You see a dog, you want to pet it. It’s natural. You see a puppy, you want to run up to it, pick it up, talk to it, snuggle it, name it, take it home with you and raise it as your own….

Time to get a grip. The truth is that, just like any environment or situation you might find yourself in on a day-to-day basis, interacting with someone else’s dog is a scenario in which any number of circumstances could be at play that you have to identify and decipher before taking any action.

Think of each dog you may encounter as its own anchor point, a furry, moving, wiggling, wagging anchor point. In theory, there are a limited number of select people who are “allowed” to approach that dog and enter into its personal space on any given day. The criteria for entering that space differs with the personality, temperament, and history of each dog. In my dog’s case, all you have to be is a human with hands that could be scratching him and he’ll let you approach him (if he doesn’t approach you first) with zero hesitancy. However, this is not always the case. Think of service dogs and police dogs on duty who are not to be approached, touched, or pet by anyone other than their owner or handler. Every dog you encounter should be treated as if they have that spatial boundary around them until you’ve gotten a read on the situation and made contact with the owner.

Let’s take the act of dog walking as an example, as it’s the behavior of a dog’s owner that is often the best indicator of whether you will be allowed into the space of the anchor point that is their dog. It’s no different than the scenario of approaching a group of people and using behavioral analysis to determine group relationships and dynamics. Dog walking is a situation that dog owners find themselves in likely multiple times a day, and it’s a scenario where you can use multiple principles of situational awareness to read universal signs of human behavior to be conscious, respectful, and ensure you have a good experience while avoiding potentially dangerous encounters for you and your pet.

Interactions with other dog walkers and their canine companions is perhaps one of the biggest wildcards that can come up during a walk. When a dog and their owner is approaching, think about the four clusters of human behavior

April 17, 2017

Three Situations That Should Cause Protection Specialists to Transition to the Deliberate Search

Threat recognition is a game of speed. For executive protection specialists, delays or hesitations in decision-making upon recognizing a threat can be the difference between success and failure while working on protection detail. Because there are some behavioral observations that need to be made immediately upon entering an area and some assessments that can wait until an initial level of safety has been established before being turned to, it is important for a protector (especially one just entering the field) to know which assessment needs to be made and in what order. Improving the method for establishing a baseline in operational settings has been one of our greatest focuses over the last few years. The recent release of our flow charts for how to conduct a hasty search and a deliberate search represents the most current techniques that we use to ensure both speed and accuracy in establishing baselines and searching for anomalies, but what the diagrams don’t show is when a person should begin the deliberate search.

The primary reason why we divide the establishment of a baseline into two phases (hasty and deliberate) is because a full and complete baseline (the result of the deliberate search) is not always needed. There might be situations where you aren’t in the area long enough to even complete both searches. There might be times when you are walking or driving and to try and complete both searches would completely overwhelm you mentally. There might be times when your brain has to be focused on things besides your safety, so you might not be able to dedicate all of your cognitive resources to establishing baselines and looking for anomalies with 100% of your attention. The division between the hasty search and deliberate search exists so that you know the minimum you should be doing (the hasty search) and you know how to conduct the deliberate search when that level of depth in the baseline is needed. But that distinction also creates the question of when a protection specialist should make the transition from the hasty search and begin to conduct the deliberate search.

This question became apparent to me during a recent conversation with Chris Pendas. Chris is a security professional, the owner of the Staying Safe – Self Defense website and a graduate of our Tactical Analysis program. Chris recently recorded a video of himself conducting a hasty search while walking from his apartment building to the subway station, a task that many people can relate to as they commute to work each day. To set the stage for our discussion about transitioning from the hasty search into the deliberate search, start by watching the video he made and think about the steps that go into each search.

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As you watched the video, you may have noticed that he begins to make some assessments about the environment as he identifies habitual areas and anchor points (a deliberate search task), even though he is intentionally trying to limit himself to the hasty search. During our conversation, Chris asked about the times when he should make the transition into the deliberate search. Because answering questions in a way that implies you will “know it when you see it,” or that it is “situationally dependent” is a lazy form of instruction, I provided Chris with three situations when we advise our students and clients to make the transition from the hasty search and begin the deliberate search to heighten their level of situational awareness. Since Chris’ video is of him walking, each of these situations is focused on

March 29, 2017

Making the Deli Experience Deliberate

At The CP Journal we teach the process of determining the baseline for any given area and situation to improve people’s situational awareness. The process involves two primary steps for any area that you operate in – the hasty search and the deliberate search. Last month, in various blog posts, we outlined the hasty search and used some scenarios that occur in daily life to explain how to best to practice it and make it your own.   As a reminder, the hasty search is the first step that anyone can take to set his or her baseline for the area. It involves assessing the collective mood as positive or negative and then confirming that assessment by observing the individual people in the area. This month we are continuing to expand on the baselining process by highlighting the deliberate search. The purpose of this post is to describe the deliberate search process using an environment that many people are accustomed to, the grocery store deli counter.

Before we begin, it is worth noting that the deliberate search is more detailed than the hasty search. The goal of the deliberate search is to identify the underlying patterns that present themselves in any given situation that you find yourself in, which makes it easier to identify anomalies. Because pattern recognition takes patience, the deliberate search requires time and practice.   Once you build your deliberate search skills, they can be repeated over and over again everywhere you go.

The grocery store or supermarket is familiar territory for most people. They are familiar with how the store operates and understand the layout of the deli area in relation to the rest of the store. The process at the deli counter is pretty cut and dry. People approach the area to order meats, cheeses, cold cuts, and salads. People form a queue and wait for attention from someone behind the counter to take their order. Customers then add those items to their carts and continue shopping in other areas of the store. The deli area within the grocery store is usually uniform and offers a repeatable setting that exists in most areas of the country, which makes it a great place to practice the deliberate search because you can consistently see the same interaction over and over again.

The steps to the deliberate search that I will outline here are as follows:

March 22, 2017

Just Tell Me What To Do: The Instructor’s Dilemma

 

“What would you do in this situation?

This seemingly simple question coming from a student is one of the most challenging and difficult questions for an instructor to answer. Especially when considering the consequences of failing to recognize a threat left of bang, it is understandable why someone would want to know what cues and what behaviors would reveal a potential threat for every single scenario they might face. There is, of course, the drive to answer the question in the best way possible too. It’s the people who truly want to learn how to protect themselves, protect their family or be better at their job that ask this question. They are looking for a way to get the process started. But for any instructor who has ever been asked what they would do in a particular situation, you are probably well aware of the challenge it poses because it often forces the instructor to choose from two equally unattractive options when deciding how to respond.

Option #1: The Decisive Answer

The first option for the instructor when asked, “What would you do?” is to simply answer the question and explain what you would do in the specific situation being discussed. Your first response to this option might be, “How is answering the question a bad thing?” On its own, providing clear and decisive answers that students can take with them from the classroom to the job is a great thing and, whenever possible, should be the standard.

The problem, however, with answering the question and stating what you would do, and in turn telling someone what they should do, is that it

March 17, 2017

The Deliberate Search: A Visual Guide

Once an observer has completed their Hasty Search of the area, they are able to turn their attention to completing an in-depth look at the processes, patterns and behaviors that make up the baseline for the area they are in.  That comprehensive baseline is the result of the Deliberate Search.

The Deliberate Search Flowchart was initially created at the request of one of our online students who was looking for some clarification on the steps and, we’ve refined our initial design using feedback from students and advisors as well as through use in the field during our one-on-one practical application sessions with students.

While the process outlined in the flowchart was designed to be a standalone guide, these concepts can be best implemented by also completing our training programs here at The CP Journal to develop a deeper understanding of each piece of the process.

You can download the Deliberate Search Flowchart in our library by clicking here.


 

March 3, 2017

Choosing Your Conversational Style

 

Since getting to present at the 2015 WINx Conference, I’ve really come to appreciate the amount of time and effort that Roy Bethge and Brian Willis put into creating this excellent event each year in Lisle, Illinois. With the goal of helping police officers continually elevate their performance and achieve excellence in their field, the 18-minute long videos on the WINx site are certainly worth the time and attention of law enforcement professionals looking to be inspired. While the 2017 conference is just over a month away, I was recently re-watching the talk above by Chelly Seibert that she gave at the 2016 conference.

In this talk, Seibert highlights the need for police officers to adopt different conversational styles while responding to calls depending on the type of situation they find themselves in. Referring to the different conversational styles as characters to be played, she showed how officers might find themselves portraying one of three characters in any given situation. They might take on the behaviors of “The Enforcer,” “The Compassionate Consoler” or “The Composed Stabilizer” in order to get to a successful outcome in the encounter. By taking the time to consider and develop the ability to display the type of body language, tone of voice, facial expression and other non-verbal and verbal styles of communication to fit your character’s behavior and the situation, you can begin to take control over the way that other people see you.

Before I talk about how these three main characters listed above tie in with our approach to situational awareness, threat recognition and behavior-based conversations, here is how

February 14, 2017

The Hasty Search: A Visual Guide

In our video Stop Looking For Threats that we posted last week, I outlined the process that goes into the way we conduct a hasty search. I wanted to share this information in an alternative format to visually show the sequence of observations that go into this process.

The Hasty Search Flowchart was initially created at the request of one of our online students who was looking for some clarification on the steps and, in the last few weeks, we’ve refined our initial design using feedback from students and advisors as well as through use in the field during our one-on-one practical application sessions with students.

While the process outlined in the flowchart was designed to be a standalone guide, these concepts can be best implemented by also completing our training programs here at The CP Journal to develop a deeper understanding of each piece of the process.

You can download the Hasty Search Flowchart in our company library by clicking here.


 

February 8, 2017

Everyone Can Search Hastily

While chatting with my mother-in-law recently, we got to talking about The CP Journal and the work that we do.  She is a great supporter of us and is always interested in what we are working on. In our conversation, she said that our content is very interesting but she sometimes has trouble taking our writing and using it herself because she is a civilian and doesn’t work in security or law enforcement.  Because we spend a significant amount of time training professionals that are already well versed in the basics of observation and threat recognition, we tend to gloss over how everyday people can put these same skills to work for themselves.  Based on themes we’ve noticed in student questions through our online training platform, we are spending the month of February digging into a particular step in our observational process called the “hasty search”.  The purpose of this post will be to frame what the hasty search is for civilians and put some simple steps into your hands to be able to conduct a hasty search everywhere you go.

The hasty search does not have to be complicated.  In plain English, the hasty search is the first thing people do when they walk into any environment. Everyone already does it, they just might not realize it. Everyday civilians probably spend about one to two seconds subconsciously conducting their own hasty search when they step foot into a new environment. The first step is to ask yourself when you walk in to a place, in terms of your personal safety and security, are you

February 2, 2017

3 Reasons Why Assessing Individuals Is Taught First, But Observed Last

The first observable behaviors that we teach in our Tactical Analysis program are those needed to make assessments about individual people. Yet when you observe an area, establish a baseline, and hunt for anomalies, individual people get observed last. Why we have structured our class this way is a question that we often get from our students. If alert observers should start the observation process by looking at the fourth pillar of behavior (how we assess the collective mood), why don’t we teach the observable behaviors in the order they are going to be observed and used when we operate? There are three reasons why we made the decision to teach the class with the last observations taught first.

1. Assessing individuals is the most important pillar of behavior.

Even though a parent shouldn’t show preference to one of their children over the others, the reality is, not all of the pillars that we teach are equal. While each of the pillars (you can view them all here) provides value in its own unique way, it is the learning of the first pillar, how we assess individual people, that should be nurtured and developed more than its three siblings. It is this first pillar that you want to spend more time with because it will provide

January 30, 2017

Stop Looking For “Threats”

When it comes to being able to recognize violent people or criminals, saying that you are looking for “threats” isn’t a good enough definition.  Being able to explain, very specifically, what will make someone stand out from the baseline and being able to recognize those behaviors is the mark of a true professional and someone on the path to mastery.

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Additions to the video:

  • Download the cluster cards mentioned in the video to see a list of the indicators that make up each assessment.  You can find them here.
  • Take a look at the book Mastery, by Robert Greene in Amazon by clicking here.
  • One note: One question that we often receive is why are we looking for only high intensity cues during the hasty search when it comes to recognizing the anomaly.  The answer to this question that areas will often have people displaying dominance, submissiveness, discomfort, and comfort in order to accomplish their goal and fulfill their need for being in the area.  As the goal of the hasty search is to simply identify if there is anyone who poses a risk before going into a more detailed search, we begin the process by searching for high intensity displays, and will focus on more subtle displays during the deliberate search.

Transcript Of Video: