31/03/2011 Leave a comment
Following the demonstrations at the weekend about cuts in public spending the debate yesterday turned, amongst other things, to the implications of the cuts on the Police force and of the allocation of funds by The Arts Council.
At Prime Minister’s Question http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/9440883.stm the Opposition posed a simple (?) “yes or no” question – would the implementation of the cuts see a reduction in the numbers of ‘front-line’ staff i.e. policemen and policewomen?
It would appear that the reason this question is difficult to answer (apart from the obvious political elephant trap) is that there is no shared definition or understanding of what ‘front-line’, in the context of the Police forces, means. Is it the ‘bobby on the beat’? Does it include the others not on duty? It takes 4/5 policemen/policewomen (given the 24×7 and shift nature of the role) for there to always be a police presence. Does ‘front-line’ include other (phone operators, staff in controls centres, special investigators and crime specialists) staff? For without many of these, the bobby on the beat would not be able to operate.
Knowledge and information managers have a role in their organisations to help others establish shared definitions and create shared understanding – for without staff working from the same place or ‘on the same page’, informed decisions and action cannot be taken.
A useful approach for dealing with these difficult challenges, decisions, and potential actions is to use the parallel thinking approach developed by Edward de Bono in his Six Thinking Hats® http://www.debonothinkingsystems.com/tools/6hats.htm. The approach is very helpful in that it promotes separate thinking through six distinct categories, and likely to be very helpful to those making very difficult decisions about what to cut and what to keep.