April 14, 2020

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Why Things Go Right and Why Things Go Wrong

Gordon Graham
Category: Public Safety

Gordon Graham here with today’s tip from Lexipol. And as you can see, I’m still in quarantine here in Orange County, California. I’m okay, I’m hoping things are going good for you. And again, thanks upfront for your great work.

You give me a good woman, a good man, and I believe we have them in public safety, put them in a high-frequency task, they’ll get it done right. 

Today I want to talk about why things go right and why things go wrong in public safety operations. I’ll give you the bottom line right upfront. The vast majority of things you do long before anybody ever heard of me, you’re doing them right. Why? There’s a chart for your consideration.

If you’ve been to my long programs or watched my stuff online, you’re familiar with the risk frequency matrix. Everything you do in public safety operations, everything you do, goes into one of these four boxes in terms of risk and frequency. Rarely do we make mistakes on high-frequency events, the right two boxes. Things we do a lot, we tend to do very well.

Dr. Gary Klein is on my recommended reading list with his great book Sources of Power. You give me a good woman, a good man, and I believe we have them in public safety, put them in a high-frequency task, they’ll get it done right. Good people, past experience, that’s a powerful combination.

When you start looking at things that don’t go right, occasionally they happen in the right two boxes. Even though they are high frequency, there are 5 considerations that I worry about: complacency, fatigue, hubris, distractions, and risk homeostasis.

Let’s take one at a time:

Complacency: I don’t care how many times you’ve done a high-risk task, recognize this: the level of risk never changes. Acclimation to risk does change. When high-risk tasks become routine, that’s a problem lying in wait.

Fatigue: I wonder how many tragedies are caused by grossly fatigued employees. If you haven’t been to one of my long programs, please, visit the webinar section on the Lexipol website. Take a look at the sleep deprivation webinar I did last year with Dr. and Dr. James out of Washington State University Spokane. I think it’ll be a valuable 45 minutes for you.

Hubris: Don’t get cocky. I love confident personnel, but cocky personnel are a problem lying in wait.

Distractions: Please don’t get distracted. The obvious stuff: in-car computers, cell phones. But today, in this complex environment you’re living in, there are a lot of distractions. Please focus on the task at hand.

And finally, risk homeostasis: Sometimes we do things with the goal of making people safer and in fact, we make them less safe. Never let all of your safety gear override your good thinking and tactical awareness.

And that is today’s tip from Lexipol. Gordon Graham signing off.

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