|Perspective on Operations and Change|
|By Joe Bouchard|
There's nothing quite like a clear, starry night to make the most people feel small and insignificant. The overwhelming size and complexity of the universe can pull routine thinking into a different mode. In other words, it is all about perspective.
I remember something of this nature on a smaller scale. When my cousin and I were children, each of us thought that the full moon followed us. To test this, we stood back to back one night. As we walked in different directions, the moon appeared to follow each of the beholders. We both thought that the other was wrong and lying. Thus, an argument ensued.
Considering operations in the prison, it behooves us to maintain a broad perspective. It is often a matter of seeing how your work assignment fits into the larger picture. Here are some concepts that help achieve this:
Structure – Operations should flow with regularity. Schedules should be easy to remember. The rhythm of movement is like a heartbeat and circulation system. Almost all staff and prisoners like structure.
Flexibility – General operation should have a structure – but not a rigid one. There should be enough flex to accommodate deviations to the schedule. And aberrations are common enough. Some things that thwart activities starting on the dot are: fights and assaults, mistakes in meal preparation, equipment failure, weather events, and mobilizations.
Judicious corrections – Sometimes, circumstances call for radical rearrangements and rescheduling. However, as adjustments occur with staff and prisoners, we must be careful as we evaluate each new paradigm. Tweaking the schedules as necessary is important to do. But this should not be an exercise in wholesale reconstruction with many architects of varying opinion. Ideally, opinions can flow to a centralized location so unilateral modifications do not happen.
Interconnectedness – Usually, a new way of operating leaves us with a Rubik's cube. When one thing is move, there are visible ramifications that seem to further complicate the puzzle. Because of the interconnectedness of time and other resources and the intricacies of timing, one little change can derail what was originally conceived as a smooth running operation.
Safety – Our mission statements place high priority on safety for staff, offenders, and the public. All considerations of operation should have this as a cornerstone.
Patience – A change in operations can be a stressful event for both staff and prisoners. But, time is a great equalizer. Often, we simply need more time to absorb the new changes. This is particularly true if the change supplanted an old, long-term paradigm.
Contemplating the stars and moon relative to our own existence is one way to gain perspective. One more down to earth way, if you excuse the pun, is to consider the many complexities of all operations as compared to your own area of responsibility. Realistically, change is not always welcome and is not always easy. But, larger perspective helps to make it easier and a little more welcome.
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