California Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training
James L. Morrison, Workshop Facilitator
Anticipating the Future
We are being bombarded by tumultuous forces for change as we go into the 21st Century: global communications, global economies, increased competition among social agencies for scarce resources, increasing pressure for accountability and so on. In order to plan effectively in this environment, we must be able to anticipate new developments that will affect California law enforcement in the coming decade.
This workshop is designed to assist participants to anticipate the future more effectively. The specific objectives are to:
When we address these objectives, we will gain experience in relating potential developments in the external environment to internal decision-making.
The publications below provide information on methods and approaches to anticipating the future. You may want to refer to them as you proceed through your POST training.
Monday, August 11, 2003
1:00 - 1:30 Introduction/Orientation
1:30 - 2:45 Anticipating the Future
Video: Discovering the Future: The Business of Paradigms
2:45 - 3:00 Break
3:00 - 3:50 Identifying critical trends
3:50 - 4:15 Prioritizing critical trends
4:15 - 5:00 Reportbacks
Tuesday, August 12, 2003
8:30 - 9:30 Identifying potential events
9:30 - 9:45 Prioritizing potential events
9:45 - 10:10 Defining signals of most critical event
10:10 - 10:30 Deriving implications of most critical event
10:30 - 11:00 Recommend actions
11:00 - 11:15 Break
11:15 - 11:45 Reportbacks
11:45 - 12:00 Next Steps
Exercise: Trends Defining the Context for California Law Enforcement
Trends are estimations/measurements of social, technological, economic, environmental, and political characteristics over time. They are gradual and long-term. Trend information may be used to describe the future, identify emerging issues, and project future events. Trend statements should be clearly stated, concise, and contain only one idea. Examples of trend statements are:
Note that the first five trends require quantitative data. The last trend, level of support for California law enforcement, requires qualitative data. Both types of trends are needed to define the context within which California law enforcement functions. Our task is to identify critical trends, particularly those that are emerging, derive their implications for effective planning, and construct plans to take advantage of the opportunities they offer or ameliorate their consequences if they may negatively impact law enforcement. In trend identification, it is important to look widely in the social, technological, economic, environmental, and political (STEEP) sectors, locally, regionally, nationally, and internationally. Developments in one sector may directly affect law enforcement or they may affect developments in another sector, which, in turn, will directly affect law enforcement.
We will begin the exercise by forming into 6-8 person groups and selecting leadership roles in each group. The roles are facilitator, flip chart scribe, reporter, and paper hanger. We will change roles for exercises as described below so that you may expect to have at least one role during the workshop. No one is allowed to serve in the same role twice.
The first task in this exercise is to identify critical trends and prioritize them. You will use the Nominal Group Process (see below) for this exercise. That is, the facilitator will pose the question: What are the critical trends that define the context within which California law enforcement functions? Take five minutes to think about the question. Think broadly through the social, technological, economic, environmental, and political sectors, locally and globally. Then begin the round robin process to post nominations from individual group members to the flip chart. When the facilitator calls time, you will go to the discussion/clarification phase, where the facilitator will ensure that group members understand and agree with the trend statements (prepare for some rewriting!).
We will then prioritize the trend statements by each person in each group voting the four "dots" you will be given. The criteria for voting is for you to select the four most critical trends. Put a dot on the left hand side of each trend statement (so that we can see the frequency distribution easily). Remember: one dot per trend.
Next, select one trend and derive the implications of that trend if it were to develop like you expect it to. Then derive your recommendations for action given those implications.
Prepare your reportback to include the five most critical trends that you identified, the implications of one of those trends, and the recommendations you recommend for action.
Exercise: Potential Events That Can Change the Future of California Law Enforcement
The next exercise is to identify potential events that could affect the future of California law enforcement if they occurred. We will change group leadership roles for this exercise.
Events are unambiguous and confirmable. When they occur, the future is different. Event identification and analysis is critical in anticipatory planning.
It is important that an event statement be unambiguous; otherwise, it is not helpful in the planning process because (a) it is unclear what may be meant by the statement (i.e., different people may understand the statement differently) and (b) we have no clear target that allows us to derive implications and action steps. For example, consider the following event statement: There will be significant changes in political, social, and economic systems in the U.S. Each person on a planning team may agree with this statement, but may also interpret it differently. It would be far more useful in analysis for a statement like: In the next election, the political right gains control of Congress. Or Minorities become the majority in 20 states. Or NAFTA incorporates South America in a free trade zone. The latter statements are concrete, unambiguous, and signal significant change that could impact California law enforcement. They could be stated as headlines that could appear in your local newspaper if they occurred.
Another point. We should not include an impact statement in the event statement. Consider the following event statement: Passage of welfare and immigration reform will negatively impact California law enforcement. First, we need to specify each welfare reform idea and each immigration reform idea as an event. Second, it may well be that an event can have both a positive and a negative impact. For example, there are signals that within five years the U.S. will abolish the death penalty. There are signals that the three strike law in California may be repealed. Either event if it occurred could have both positive and negative consequences on California law enforcement.
You will use the Nominal Group Process for this exercise. The group facilitator will pose the question: What are the potential events that would change the future of California law enforcement if they occurred? Take five minutes to think about the question, remembering to think broadly through the STEEP sectors, locally through globally. Then begin the round robin process to post nominations from individual group members to the flip chart. Do not spend more than 25 minutes for this part of the exercise. When the facilitator calls time, go to the discussion/clarification phase, where the facilitator will ensure that group members understand and agree with the event statements (prepare for some rewriting!). We will have a total of 60 minutes for this part of the exercise (including the 25 minutes in the identification process)..
The next part of this exercise is to select those events that may have the most impact on California law enforcement in the next decade. We will use the paste-on dots for this exercise. Group members will be given four dots to indicate their selection. Voting criteria are as follows:
You have 15 minutes for this phase.
The next part of the exercise is to identify the signals that your top event (as indicated by the frequency distribution of votes from exercise two above) could occur. Use the Nominal Group Process. We only have 20 minutes for this part of the exercise.
The next phase of the exercise is to derive the implications of that event for California law enforcement. In other words, assume that this event occurs. What would happen to California law enforcement as a result of its occurrence? For this phase we will again change roles (except for the laptop scribe and the reporter). Use the Nominal Group Process. We have 25 minutes for this and the following phase.
The final phase of this exercise is to develop recommendations as to what law enforcement leaders should do now in anticipation of this event occurring. Again, do not be concerned about the probability of occurrence of the event. Let's see what recommendations you invent, and then examine the recommendations to see if they make sense to implement regardless of whether the event occurs or not. One outcome is the creation of plans that we could not have conceived without going through the process, but, when we examine the plans, make sense to begin implementing now.
Prepare your reportback to include the five most critical events that could affect California law enforcement and, for one event, the signals that indicate that event could occur, the implications for California law enforcement if it did occur, and recommended actions derived from those implications.
The Nominal Group Process
The Nominal Group Process is an efficient tool that ensures balanced participation. It requires participants to first think about the question (i.e., what potential events can affect the future?) and write down their thoughts on a sheet of paper. After a suitable time, the facilitator uses a round robin approach where each participant in turn is asked to nominate an event. Only one nomination is given by each participant. Participants are asked to nominate those events that could be most critical to their organization. Each statement is written on the flip chart so that all can see the nominations. The next person is asked to submit his or her "best" candidate. During this time the only person talking is the person nominating a statement; all others are requested to think about the statement to see if it stimulates an idea that they had not had before.
Under normal circumstances this process goes on until there are no more nominations, at which time the facilitator guides the group in a discussion of each nomination to clarify, discuss, edit, and remove redundancies. Of course the discussion may uncover more events, which will then be posted on the flip chart. (Given time limitations, we may have to curtail the discussion.)
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