This paper seeks to review and update the NPS strategic aim of harmonizing the police service as indicated in the National Police Service (NPS) Strategic Plan (2014-2018). To achieve this, the writer will use idea generating tools to develop a range of alternative strategic options. Filtering tools will then be employed to identify the most appropriate options from which a preferred option will be selected. Lastly, the writer will demonstrate how the filtering tools can be applied in the workplace.
When generating options, one has several tools at his/her disposal to choose from to gather a wide range of information. Such tools include brainstorming, focus groups, mind mapping, six thinking hats and scamper. In this paper, I will describe two of these tools; brainstorming and mind mapping.
Osborn, (1963) describes brainstorming as a group creativity technique by which efforts are made to find a conclusion for a specific problem by gathering a list of ideas spontaneously contributed by members. Osborn further notes that the group meets to generate innovative ideas and solutions around a specific domain of interest. By removing inhibitions, people can think more freely, and they suggest many spontaneous innovative ideas as possible, all the ideas are noted down and are not criticized and after the brainstorming session the ideas are evaluated. The team creates and discusses potential solutions to a problem and ways to improve each alternative. By using the diverse views of a group, brainstorming incorporates the knowledge of many people and therefore creates a superior, shared idea (Osborn, 1963)
.Hopper, (2012) describes a mind map as a diagram used to visually organize information. A mind map is hierarchical and shows relationships among pieces of the whole. It is often created around a single concept, drawn as an image in the center of a blank page, to which associated representations of ideas such as images, words and parts of words are added. Major ideas are connected directly to the central concept, and other ideas branch out from those. Developed by the UK researcher Tony Buzan in his 1972 book ‘Use Your Head,’ mind mapping is used in note taking, brainstorming, problem-solving, and project planning. Its purpose is to focus attention and to capture and frame knowledge to facilitate sharing of ideas and concepts.
To demonstrate how the tools work, I will use mind mapping to generate ideas about harmonization of the NPS. To start with, I will call for a meeting of the key stakeholders who are going to be affected by the strategy. In this case, I will invite a representative from Kenya Police Service, a representative from the Administration Police Service and a representative from the Directorate of Criminal Investigations. As a facilitator, I will adopt the transformational leadership style and allow them to participate fully, I will need a flip chart and stand. I will then write the main topic which is “Harmonization of the police services” in the middle of the flip chart and encourage them to shout out ideas about the topic. I will then draw branches connecting the ideas to the center. I will then explore further the idea and break it down into leaves.
Some of the options that are likely to be generated are; merging of the training institutions into one, having one uniform , having inter-service transfers, having one commander for all the services at all levels, dropping of the current names and remaining with only one name, abolishing the individual Service Colors and adopting the NPS Service Colors, establishing an exit plan for those officers that are resistant to the idea of harmonization, having trainers from the police colleges being transferred around training in all the three colleges.
There is a range of filtering tools that can be used to identify the most appropriate option from many options that are generated. Such tools include
- Decision Matrix Analysis,
- Quantitative Pros and Cons,
- Paired Comparison Analysis,
- Force Field Analysis,
- the Cost-Benefit Analysis, or the value, suitable, acceptable, feasible and enduring model (V-SAFE).
One could alternatively theme the ideas or use a flip chart to map the feelings of the team members. I will describe two of these models; The quantitative Pros and Cons and the Cost-Benefit Analysis tool.
The Quantitative Pros and Cons Tool
This is a method of weighing up advantages (pros) and disadvantages (cons) of selecting one option out of the many available to choose from. Lipshitz and Strauss, (1997) observe that this tool can speed up the decision-making process, improve the understanding of the situation, and help one avoid decision-making paralysis. Lipshitz and Strauss further stress that Using a simple “pros” and “cons” list encourages one to approach the decision objectively, without letting your “gut feeling” impact your choice. This method is useful in group decision making when team members favor a certain idea, point of view, or plan. It encourages each person to consider other perspectives, and it can help the team reach a balanced, informed decision.
Using the tool I would start by writing the decision I have to make at the top of a sheet of paper. Then, divide it in half, and label one side “Pros” and the other “Cons.” I would then write down all possible benefits of following the course of action, and all the possible negative outcomes, under each heading. I would then score the pros and cons to show the importance of each. The total will help me to decide whether it is worthwhile going ahead with the decision. I will select the side with the highest score.
The value, suitable, acceptable, feasible and enduring model (V-SAFE)
Langdon, (2012) argues that the V-SAFE filtering model is a tool that is used in the screening process to quickly and efficiently weed out those ideas and innovations that do not meet basic selection criteria. A valuable decision is one that delivers tangible benefits to the organization, a suitable decision is one that will meet the needs of each participant where the decision is involved and should meet the best interest of all parties involved. In the example of NPS, I will have to consider whether the option presented is able to deliver tangible benefits to the NPS and Kenyan community at large. A suitable decision is one that is consistent with the aims and objectives of the organization and addresses the problem identified. In my case, I will evaluate whether the option presented is consistent with NPS vision, mission, strategy and objectives and the extent to which it addresses the current NPS needs.
As much as not all the people involved will be happy to accept the decision made, there are ways to make sure that any decision I will make will be acceptable. Each of the decisions, therefore, needs to be considered acceptable by business standards. In my case, I need to find out whether all NPS stakeholders will support the option and for those who will not support it, I need to put in place a communication strategy to reach out to them.
A feasible decision is one that makes sense. It is a decision that is capable of being done. For a decision to be feasible, it is necessary to make sure that all the people involved understand it, and the steps of the decision can be followed through with. The decisions made needs to be enduring. They need to endure confrontation, questions, and concerns. The reason is that even though you may have the empowerment to make the decisions, those decisions usually affect someone else. Therefore, each party involved with that decision will likely ask questions, have concerns and even may show some confrontation. In case of NPS, I need to be ready to defend my decision and to ensure that there are sufficient resources and time to implement it. I should be clear about whether the option presented can be managed within existing budgets or it will require additional funding. An enduring option is one that delivers value in both the long and short-term. In the case of NPS, I need to evaluate whether the option will be able to survive the rigors of time.
From the options presented in 3.1, I am going to use the V-SAFE model to filter and select one option out of the two options available. The two options available for selection are; having only one commander responsible for all the services at all command levels and establishing an exit plan for those officers that are resistant to the idea of harmonization.
Valuable: The idea of having only one commander at all command levels is likely to deliver tangible benefits to the NPS because unlike now where we have three commanders at all command levels we will only have one and the other two will be deployed to other important duties, this will not only reduce conflicts arising out of lack of unified command but also ensure maximum utilization of human capital. On the other hand, forcing those against harmonization to exit might further aggravate the problem of insufficient number of police officers. Suitable: The idea of having only one commander at all command levels is consistent with the NPS vision, mission, strategy and objectives. It also addresses the current NPS needs. It is also likely to contribute to the NPS mission of “providing professional police service through community partnership and upholding rule of law for a safe and secure society”. The second idea though consistent with this mission seems too radical.
Acceptable: Having one commander for all the services will be more acceptable to members of the public who are our key stakeholders. However, it is likely to face some resistance from within and I will address this by proper communication to the officers about the need for the idea. Even though members of the public might support the idea of retiring officers who are perceived to be anti-reform, the government might not accept it due to the financial implication involved in paying for the officer’s benefits. Feasible: Having only one commander for all the services is feasible because it does not have any negative financial implications but instead will lead to savings on the part of the government. However, the issue of removing officers comes with financial implications.
Enduring: The first option can be defended easily and can be managed within the existing budgets. It is also likely to deliver value in both the long and short-term. The second option, however, is only likely to deliver value short-term but long term it might have far-reaching financial implications. From the ensuing discussion, therefore, I will select the option of having one commander at all levels for all NPS commands. This is because it fits well into the V-SAFE model as it has passed the test. As for the second option, I would shelve it as it has failed most of the tests. I would instead design a communication strategy to reach out to the officers and engage them with a view of getting their buy-in.
When I go back to the workplace I will employ mind mapping as a tool for generating ideas because I have found it to be quite effective in developing innovative ideas. It also helps the team to discusses potential solutions to a problem and ways of improving each alternative. Further, the tool can incorporate the knowledge of many people and therefore creates a superior, shared idea. For the selection of an option from a variety of options, I will be using the V-SAFE model because it examines both the qualitative and quantitative aspects of an option and takes into consideration both the long term and short-term implications of selecting an option.