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  • Crime Reduction and GTD

    Please forgive my initial post for its length and the rambling that is to follow.

    I'm interested in hearing everyone's thoughts on how I use GTD to reduce crime in my city in my capacity as a police chief.

    First, I think that GTD is essential for all public agencies. The inability to objectively measure the 'profit' of public agencies seems to create the perfect environment for waste, apathy, lack of meaningful results, and poor customer service. I'm of the opinion that my GTD system has allowed me to better organize the work and outcomes of my police department around the horizons of focus and it has helped me drive projects and performance through a combination of a relentless next action focus and an extensive waiting for list.

    Interestingly, the NYPD (I am not a member of that police department) is credited with a management innovation that has been revolutionary. It is called compstat and in a nutshell it is essentially an organizational GTD system that is sustained and solidified by a sort of weekly review with mandatory attendance for all command level personnel.

    During those meetings, commanders are questioned regarding;

    Their 'projects' (coordinated efforts to reduce crime and quality of life problems)

    The status of their next actions (the things that they intend to do to improve performance in their units) And-

    How closely they are aligned with the 30,40, and 50,000 ft horizons of the agency. This is indicated by crime statistics, the general satisfaction of the citizens and the presence or absence of internal affairs type complaints, among other things.

    When I became familiar with GTD approximately 5 years ago, I recognized the tremendous parallels between compstat and GTD. Some of the projects that I am currently working are; Reduce street robberies to 2007 levels, Reduce the visible evidence of street prostitution in the area of 5th and Franklin, and Develop and install a checklist for investigating shootings and homicides.

    It is difficult for me to see how any police chief could function without a GTD system. I track litterally hundreds of major case investigations, the individual efforts of police officers to reduce crime, and the collective efforts of our divisions (Detectives, Narcotics, Patrol, etc) as they complete their next actions that are intended to reduce crime in our City.

    I would greatly appreciate any comments on how you see GTD can be used in government agencies, my own use of GTD for crime reduction, or anything that you are inspired to share.

  • #2
    I hope criminals will not use GTD for their purposes.

    I hope criminals will not use GTD for their purposes. Unfortunately GTD can help both - good and bad people...

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    • #3
      Would you consider simply implementing the CompStat system in your department? I understand that several other cities have done so. Then you would not have to reinvent the wheel. You could always add additional elements of GTD if you wanted.

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      • #4
        We have implemented the compstat system. I was just pointing out how similar the two systems are. GTD also extends to individuals unlike compstat.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by metalbot View Post
          We have implemented the compstat system. I was just pointing out how similar the two systems are. GTD also extends to individuals unlike compstat.
          Great! Thanks for the clarification.

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          • #6
            WOW!! This is really interesting, that GTD is being used in government agencies, and for crime reduction!!

            I don't have any particular tips, just hope it's used to minimize bureaucracy (sp?) and enhance efficiency and good things!!

            I agree that lack of effectiveness (or effectiveness in the wrong direction!) can happen in a gov environment quickly, probably all over the world.. (I am not from USA.)

            I hope that for example 'ordinary citizens' are also consulted on a regular basis on how the procedures work for them, and then things can be tweaked and improved.. (Like Oogie said for farm work, some laws/bureaucracy make farmers' lives more miserable, and she hopes government officials will recognize that and change them for the better, to ease people's lives..)

            I also wonder how other, 'not so organized' people or departments look at this then? Any problems with people not wanting to be efficient? Or eg things like (possibly) any corruption etc? Do things generally become more transparent?

            I hope the criminals aren't using GTD too!!

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            • #7
              I ran across something in "Making It All Work" that reminded me of this thread. A general in the USAF gave copies of GTD to all his officers. Then he required them to give him a status report every Monday, which basically forced them each to do a weekly review of their own. That would be an alternative to the weekly meeting you described for compstat.

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              • #8
                Thank you! I caught that too. Our compstat meetings are essentially staff meetings. The rigorous focus on next actions and project status reports do seem to create a flurry of weekly reviews at the various ranks on the Fridays that precede the Monday meetings.

                Listening to General Fullhart at the GTD Summit was also very interesting. He essentially said that maybe the best way to bring GTD to an organization is to introduce the language and behaviors associated with it without initially calling it GTD. We've sort of stumbled onto that method and it has been effective for us.

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                • #9
                  Dear Metalbot, this is my first post, so hopefully it comes out OK.

                  I totally agree with your assessment of the utility of GTD in government. I have implemented GTD in my work both in the military and now as a government contractor. I think the most gains you can make with GTD are in several areas:

                  1) Processing email. In my last position in the military (a staff job in the Pentagon), my coworkers were amazed at my situational awareness. “How do you know that they are just testing the fire alarms?” I would tell them when you process all of your email, including the mundane messages the director’s secretary would forward, you know what’s going on. Most government workers just let their email get out of control, so that one cannot depend upon it as a reliable means of communication to implement department wide policies. I do think that somehow having an empty email inbox improves one’s productivity and attitude. I recently taught my mother over the phone how to create additional folders in her hotmail account to process her email. She was extremely happy not to have all the messages in one big folder, and seemed relieved to be more organized.

                  2) The tickler file. The tickler file was an invaluable tool to deal with the constant inflow of paperwork that I needed sometime in the future. Used in conjunction with a general reference file system, it enabled me to stay ahead of the all the paper government offices seem to generate.

                  3) The waiting for concept. The waiting for concept is another powerful GTD tool. In my last job a major meeting was postponed indefinitely. I had to notify another staff officer when the meeting was rescheduled. He was amazed that 9 months later I could email him to let him know the meeting was now scheduled. I had simply put a reminder in my waiting for email folder, and checked it each week during my weekly review.

                  I was most successful in implementing GTD when moving into a new position. When I first read GTD, I was in the middle of a demanding job and could never seem to get all the way through the collection phase. I would consider some training in GTD methods for new hires and those promoted to new positions as I think it gives them the best chance of successful implementation.

                  Thanks for sharing how you have made a major city safer thru the principles found in GTD.

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