Three Ways To Make Situational Awareness Second Nature

September 2, 2016 in Learning About Learning

This article was originally written for the Illinois Tactical Officer’s Association

We all know that person at work who can seemingly read every situation they find themselves in and turn it into something beneficial for them. It’s like watching action heroes like James Bond or Jason Bourne, people who can seemingly pick up on everything that is happening around them and then use that information to make better decisions than those with untrained eyes. We find ourselves in awe of those naturals who have learned how to dissect situations, find the patterns and seemingly predict the future.

Life might not be like the movies, but those same deliberate observation skills can be developed. While it certainly takes a lot of work to become skilled at recognizing pre-event indicators, for police officers looking to get and stay left of bang, here are three tips to make situational awareness second nature.

#1: Begin With The End In Mind

The way that these naturals so adeptly navigate complex and difficult situations is what often attracts our attention and carries an air of mystery. However, how they find the solution isn’t the first step, it is the last. Before you can Continue reading »

Applying the Pillars to Your Everyday Life

October 14, 2015 in Assessing Individuals

In the work that we do with our clients here at The CP Journal, we teach a process of observation that we categorize using the four pillars of observable behavior: individuals, groups, the environment, and the overall collective mood.  Much of the training work that we do is with clients in the security world, but we have also spent a good deal of time helping organizations in other sectors that aren’t focused specifically on security to grow their businesses, improve their customer service strategy, and increase their sales, using these same pillars. As we continue to work with non-security-related organizations, understanding these pillars in non-security terms and explaining how to recognize them is crucial. One of the easiest ways to begin thinking about this in your own life is to consider personal examples of how that information can help lead to more informed decisions in everyday circumstances. In this post, I will outline the first pillar that we teach, the individual, explain what exactly you should look for while observing, and offer some examples regarding how this information can improve your overall level of confidence in any interpersonal interaction.

Of the four pillars of observable behavior, the first pillar is the individual. Within the individual pillar we use four clusters to categorize any human being at any moment in time.  Each person you see out in the world can be categorized as being comfortable, uncomfortable, dominant or submissive. These four clusters are the universal results of Continue reading »

From The Horse’s Mouth – Cooper’s Color Code

December 10, 2014 in Background Information

I was recently sent this 30-minute presentation about mental awareness given by the late Marine Lt. Col. Jeff Cooper.  We reference the conditions of awareness that he created (that were later expanded upon by Col Dave Grossman) in all of our courses as an overarching framework for the benefits that behavioral analysis offer an observer.

Since we are standing on the shoulders of giants, we always embrace the opportunity to pass on to our readers and students direct access to the leaders who have shaped our approach.  It is certainly worth the watch.  Enjoy.


Cooper’s Color Code and The Corporate World

October 9, 2014 in Background Information

During my first year as a sales desk manager, I spent a large amount of my time listening to the recorded calls our sales people made with clients.  Internal wholesalers on my team were making these calls to brokers.  To those not in the financial world this sales process can be compared to that of a pharmaceutical rep.  The pharmaceutical rep sells to the doctor and the doctor prescribes to the clients.  In the financial sales world, the wholesaler sells to the advisor and the advisor then presents to the clients.  The typical day for someone on my team consisted of around 75 phone calls in the hopes that fifteen people would be live on the line and speaking.  As you can imagine, some conversations went great, with the client getting all of the information they were hoping for and even some they didn’t know they needed. On the other hand, some calls weren’t so great, with clients getting poor service and no information that would help them or their business. It wasn’t until recently that I realized how relevant the concepts of behavioral analysis apply to environments other than safety and security.

While working with corporate clients of The CP Journal I have noticed moments during our work together when people really start to engage in the content of our training programs.   That first moment is typically when we walk them through Cooper’s Color Code.  Having not served in the military myself, I wasn’t familiar with the code until I started working with the Journal.  Retired Marine Lt. Col. Jeff Cooper developed a system of awareness that he called Cooper’s Color Code that describes the psychological conditions of awareness that people are operating in at any given time.  While you can learn more about Cooper’s Color Code by clicking this link, this particular post is meant to explain the applications of Cooper’s Color Code to those not in the military, outline how you can use the code personally to asses your current state of awareness and for leaders so they may use the code to establish frameworks for their team.

For those that have my attention span and didn’t click the link to get an in depth look at the code, it is broken down into different colors that each provide a template for the conditions of awareness that people go through during the day.  Check out this graph for a visual:

In a customer service or sales environment people on your team can be assessed in one of the following states of awareness to help you build a framework for Continue reading »

Information Hunting vs. Information Hoping

April 7, 2014 in Background Information

Possessing situational awareness is a step in the pursuit of proactively identifying threats. But awareness, in and of itself, isn’t good enough.  The goal of the Tactical Analysis training program is to create informed awareness.  To know that you should be looking for something doesn’t mean that you intuitively know what you should be looking for.  Last week I was giving a course to a team from 1st Marine Special Operations Battalion in Camp Pendleton and a comment I made about the need for informed awareness prompted one of the most engaging conversations of the week. One of the students, a school-trained sniper who has conducted countless observation exercises and related training throughout his career, led the conversation off with a couple statements to me during a break in the class. He said that when he first heard that he was going to attend the class he was skeptical because he had always been observing the people on his numerous deployments. After more than a decade of fighting a counter insurgency, focusing on the people was not a new concept.  At the end of the first day, he pulled me aside before we went out in Oceanside to practice these observations to say that he was wrong, that he already realized there were things he had been missing on his previous deployments. He was looking, but not seeing.

Chris Bausch, a good friend and one of the owners of Sensemakers, LLC, refers to this as the difference between information hunting and information hoping. Continue reading »

The Danger Of Condition White

December 23, 2013 in Assessing Groups, Background Information

A couple of weeks ago I posted a video (we have heard that this video is no longer available, but that the text below is still relevant) where I talked about the different conditions within Cooper’s Color Code and how that relates to informed awareness, but I recently found a video on Twitter that illustrates the need to be aware of your surroundings in ways that can’t be covered in a white board talk.  Take a look at this news report from Seattle, WA where a man is robbing bus riders at gunpoint.

The initial response when you watch this news segment is that technology will be our downfall and that it is dangerous to be so consumed by your phone that you are completely unaware of your surroundings.  That is the easy answer though and is a no brainer.   But it is something that happens to all of us and doesn’t explain why it is so dangerous.  Being in Condition White means that you have no awareness of your surroundings and that you have no advance warning about any potential danger because you are not looking for threats in the first place. Without that initial level of alertness displayed by those in Condition Yellow, you won’t have the opportunity to create a plan for how you are going to deal with the threat on your terms.  You will be reacting to whatever the criminal is doing.  He has the upper hand and you are 100% right of bang.

The real consequence of being in Condition White relates to another concept that we talk about in our classes, that close proximity negates skill.  What close proximity negates skill means is that the closer an attacker is to you, there are fewer options available to you and less time to react.  The passenger in this video fights off the attacker not because he wanted to or planned to, but because he had no other choice.  Continue reading »

Creating Informed Awareness

December 12, 2013 in Applying The Observations

How can we prevent violence? It starts by creating informed awareness.

Transcript provided by SpeechPad, please ignore any errors that are inevitable when transcribing a talk.

One of the questions that I have been getting asked a lot recently relates to some of the goals of the program and where students should be once they come through the course. Our obvious end state as we talk about quite frequently, here on the site is to prevent violent acts from occurring, to be proactive and identify criminals, and identify attackers before they commit their crime, so that we can create a greater sense of safety, and security, and confidence among the people that we are out there tasked with protecting.

We use behavioral analysis, but behavior analysis is simply a method. It’s a technique that we are going to use to get there, but there is some intermediary steps in there that are very important for us to talk about. If we are going to be proactive, if we are going to use behavioral analysis to prevent crimes from occurring, the goal of the program is really to create a sense of informed awareness. And it’s not just a higher level of awareness, we don’t want people just to be hyper-alert but not know what they should be looking for. The goal is to teach people what indicators that they can use, they can rely on that are accurate, that are validated, and truly let them make decisions that improve their observation and decision making ability, while they are on the ground.

So I just want to talk a little bit about what informed awareness really mean, Continue reading »