What is Your Organization’s Direction?


  • A short, striking, and memorable phrase.

What characterizes your organization? How would you express it? A byword, mantra, slogan or exemplar is an important part of organizational excellence and continuous improvement. It is the target or goal of an organization’s efforts — it is the wagon we seek to pull!

During the years of organizational change in the Madison Police Department (Wisc.) we had three primary slogans which were important to our progress and they came along at various stages in our transformation from good to great — they became an operating vision; a quest.
Example: Apple is speaking not only to its customers, but also its employees and future workers.

It became clear to us if we were really going to do Community-Oriented Policing it had to be a department-wide effort; no special unit. In fact, C.O.P. became N.O.P. for us — Neighborhood-Oriented Policing; turf policing, one area, one officer. But to really “DO” this kind of policing we all had to align along one burning, pressing objective — to get closer to those whom we serve. This moved us first from how we responded to protest and pubic demonstrations, then into neighborhood listening sessions, collaborative work with citizens and true Problem-Oriented Policing.

Subway tells it straight out in terms of meeting the needs of its customers.

In order to raise our level of service to our “customers:” to listen to them, and treat them with dignity and respect, the same effort had to first begin inside the department between supervisors and the men and women they were privileged to lead. This was a major change that had to occur top-down. If a community expects their police to be good listeners and decision makers, and treat them with dignity and respect, the same kind of interaction needed to FIRST be a reality between police officers and their leaders. We started talking about quality and the fact that only a person receiving a product or serve can determine its quality (that means citizens determine the quality of their police interactions and police officers determine the quality of their bosses’ leadership). We found the teachings of Dr W. Edwards Deming extremely helpful and started looking at our work as a “system” that can be continuously improved. We needed to learn how to ask and listen — especially to those who were doing the work. We gathered data in order to answer the question, “How are we doing?” and along the way we changed a traditional, coercive style of leadership into one that was collaborative, respectful, and employee-oriented.

Nike has a strong, universal message for it athletic customers – just do it!

Along with getting closer to those we served and working to improve the quality of everything we did, we knew that we had to be smart, listen to one another, and recruit new voices and people to come and serve with us. We needed well-educated, smart, creative cops with college backgrounds. We needed women not only in the juvenile division but in uniform, on the street, and as supervisors. We needed to reflect the changing composition of our community and get ahead of it in terms of race, ethnicity, and sexual orientation. We came to see that diverse a police organization is stronger, more effective, able to solve problems, and safer.

Looking back, these three slogans, bywords, or mantras became a driving force that effected everything we did. For today’s police, they continue to be effective  “trust-builders,”

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