Unit VI Reflection Paper
BSL 4080 Creative Thinking and Problem Solving
Columbia Southern University
This paper will present personal impressions and thoughts about how I would implement change to organizational culture to foster more innovative behavior and critical thinking. I will be identifying the elements of organizational culture that promote creative thinking and encourage innovative behavior within its ranks. I will discuss solid leadership practices gleaned from information contained within the textbook lesson (Boss, 2017) and will draw from my personal professional experience. Lastly, this paper will put into context, by bridging what occurs within a hypothetical company and the lesson, to how I can apply these ideas in my professional life going forward.
The culture of an organization is not something that can or perhaps even needs to be changed simply because of somebody’s recent promotion. Far too many people think that they are going to be that guy or that girl who, “Changes the way things are going to go around here” once they become promoted. Often, the result of this way of thinking is push-back from those within the organization to anything new this type of supervisor brings to the table; good or bad. Nothing changes and the same issues or concerns continue. Because organizational culture are the shared beliefs and values that lead to discernable patterns of behavior among members of the organization (Guzak, Crandall & Alavinejad, 2017), it takes much more than sudden changes in policy or strict enforcement of company rules by the newest leader to make long lasting adjustments. Rather, a courageous leader must empower those within the organization who think creatively and instill innovation to come up with new approaches to situations from within.
According to Bradford and Cohen’s Managing for Excellence (1983), one way of empowering others to create new approaches is to move to a shared responsibility team. In this model, the manager allocates resources to members of the team while allowing the members themselves to come up with innovative ways of tackling their portion of the issue. By evaluating the evidence in terms of what works and what does not fit with what the other teams have accomplished, all involved are part of the solution. This type of leadership ability and style mends with the four elements of transformational leadership elements that Bass (1985) discusses in Leadership and Performance beyond Expectations. The four elements being; individual consideration, idealized influence, inspirational motivation, and intellectual stimulation.
Within law enforcement organizations, the individual member is often minimized and this can be especially true to those members who are younger or new to the department or organization. There has long been a resistance to allowing newer members who have not “paid their dues” yet to speak up or offer differing ideas toward solving problems. While misperceptions and cognitive barriers can create errors in judgement and thinking processes, it is still important to allow and vet these new ideas by evaluating the evidence (Boss, 2017). Simply because someone is new or younger should not dictate if they should be involved in offering solution ideas. Because culture is more than acting like the older salty patrol dogs of the department, when we encourage and allow the younger members to share and incorporate their beliefs and ideas, the culture can advance. We must recognize the limitations to knowledge, be it with this young group or the senior members of the organization, without simply disregarding one for the other.
When promoting critical thinking among these groups, there are factors that can cause us to question the evidence presented. While direct experience is one of the most widely accepted types of evidence, and is often what tenured officers will claim is lacking in their newer counterparts, it is not full proof and must be evaluated. False memory syndrome, wherein someone does not accurately remember an event, can be passed from member to member possibly even with added elements (Boss, 2017). It is in these situations where a younger officer may actually have an advantage in that his/her suggestions or ideas will likely be less effected by false memories. This can be particularly valid when interviewing the victim or a witness to a crime. The tenured investigator, without realizing it, may be asking leading questions that illicit responses that could be subject (Boss, 2017). In our fictitious department example, the advanced supervisor might consider seeking out the younger officer for this type of interview to counteract this phenomenon. By including this officer in this type of scenario, he/she gains experience, assists with the investigation in a positive fashion, and has the ability to show other members that he/she can dutifully handle such an interview. This also moves toward advancing the culture forward via inclusion, trust, and ability.
Because others in the organization are not only watching how the newer officer is handling this situation, but also the actions of the supervisor who entrusted him/her, The Leadership Challenge, by Kouzes & Posner (2007) explains this modeling changes the values of the organization. Leadership decisions such as this, Kouzes & Posner point out, demonstrates consistency between word and deed; each member being a valued member with signals that can allow others to reinforce the behavior, confront future incidents, and tell stories how this situation was resolved. Through modeling, others within the organization learn how they can confront future situations in the same manner by including newer members of the department and their ways of going about them.
Going forward in my personal career, I can utilize these ideas in future decisions. By evaluating the evidence, recognizing the elements of positive leadership practices, and reflecting on past experiences, it will be beneficial to not only myself as a leader, but to those around me as well. Through courageous leadership, positive strides to cultural change can occur. Empowering others, to include younger officers and civilian staff, I will promote creative thinking and encourage innovative behavior within the organization. These actions compound on themselves and model positive behavior for all members throughout the department.
Bass, B. M. (1985). Leadership and performance beyond expectations. New York, NY: Free Press.
Boss, J. A. (2017). THiNK: Critical thinking and logic skills for everyday life (4th ed.). New York, NY: McGraw-Hill Education.
Bradford, D., & Cohen, A. R. (1983). Managing for Excellence. John Wiley & Sons: New York.
Guzak, J. R., Crandall, B., & Alavinejad, H. (2017). Compensation and culture: A
configurational fit between pay system and culture types. Journal of Organizational
Psychology, 17(5), 109–117. Retrieved from https://search-
Kouzes, J. M., & Posner, B. Z. (2007). The leadership challenge. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-