Fighting Crime the Agile Way
Lessons from the Dutch Police
Lessons from the Dutch Police
The Dutch Police is at a crossroads. Like most organizations, the Dutch National Police is well equipped to fight yesterday's issues. Today’s challenges require a police force that is tech-savvy, able to deal with increasingly complex crimes, and is very quick to respond to new developments. Criminal organizations are no longer the classic highly structured organizations of old, they have become true network organizations. A recent report has described them as a loose association of specialists: pick the number you require from the proverbial criminal yellow pages, and you are on your way.
Contrast this with an organization that tends to lag behind in adopting new ways of working. That struggles to make decisions and is slow to respond to new challenges. Historically, the National Police is a hierarchical, siloed, and at times political organization. The people are what keeps the organization afloat: it is through their passion, perseverance and will-power that the organization keeps functioning. This passion and perseverance comes at a cost, however. A high percentage of people suffer from burn-outs or leave the organization prematurely, other people simply become disengaged.
Increasingly, however, teams and the organization as a whole are finding ways to tackle crime more effectively, and make their work more enjoyable in the process. Experiments with Agile Police Teams in the Rotterdam and Arnhem areas of the Netherlands are paving the way of more widespread adoption of Agile throughout the organization.
This short description makes it sound like this was a simple process, in reality, it was anything but. Getting to this point required boldness, creating social safety, great personal leadership, radical transparency, inter-agency cooperation (with the prosecutor's office), great team spirit, and quite simply lots of hard work. And the story is far from over, the real work is just beginning. While these teams have provided a catalyst, truly re-energizing the National Police requires making hard choices and dealing with structural impediments embedded in the organization.
This story will explore what other organizations can learn from the journey the Dutch National Police is going through, but will also highlight the key strategic choices ahead that are required to create not just agile police teams, but an Agile Police Organization.
I would like to stress 5 key learnings.
Ultimately, this is a story of hope. For law enforcement everywhere, but more importantly if Agile can work in the Dutch Police it principles are truly universally applicable.
Agile Coach @ Organize Agile
Michiel van Gerven is an Agile Coach and Trainer at Organize Agile, based in the Netherlands. He has a penchant for Agile in unconventional environments and likes a puzzle. Currently he is the Lead Transformation Coach at an international insurance agency and coaches, trains and advises the Dutch National Police in adopting agile ways of working and thinking. And, most importantly, he facilitates them in embracing an agile culture and mindset.
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