Are You Working to Create a Better Organization?

If you want to succeed as a leader in your organization, you will apply yourself to writing a series of truly solid policies.

There are many roads to the land of success. It is my suggestion that you should not overlook the value to be gained by you and your fire department from membership in professional associations. By being active professionally, you can develop a network of personal and professional acquaintances. It may be that someone has already written your policy for you. So search far and wide for information. I know that I have used this very approach on a number of occasions through the years.

It is critical for you to read and review the professional literature that you receive. The effective leader is enthusiastic about learning and shares this motivation with their troops. While this might seem like an obvious next stage in your policy drafting process, many people gather reams of data, only to overlook most of it and write what pleases them and call it their policy.

It has long been my contention that the more that you know about any given topic, the better able will you be to handle yourself in any discussion on the merits of your proposed policy. It is easy to tell when you are speaking with someone who has only a superficial knowledge of a particular topic. They deal in surface generalities. They can speak about none of the necessary background facts and details. Do not become this type of person. Gather the necessary facts to set the stage for your efforts at writing policy. Become the knowledge expert.

I would suggest that you will eventually come to a point where you feel that you have enough information to proceed. At this time you must decide whether to go it alone and write the policy yourself; or build a team to study the information you have gathered, with an eye to brain storming for fresh ideas.   I would urge the use of many divergent opinions, if at all possible. People will have a better buy in on any thing that they have had a hand in creating. This is called the buy-in factor.

An important point that must be discussed here deals with the amount of specialized technical knowledge that might be needed to write the policy.   If you wish to write a policy handling the disposal of leaking drums of toxic material, it would be nice if you were able to gather a group of people who know something of how to handle leaking drums.

The same would hold true for firefighting operations, EMS and personnel or payroll matters. For most situations, it is better to have a task group work on a problem with the combined weight of a number of different minds and points of view. Occasionally there is a need for outside participation in areas involving other agencies of your own municipality or other surrounding municipalities in a mutual aid scenario.

There might also be a need for administrative approval of department-level policy decisions requiring municipal government approval. Be sure not to overlook any crucial player. Leaving certain people out of the loop will create ill will, slow down your operation and perhaps ultimately kill the policy.

In those cases where a large group is needed, the wise leader will set up task groups within the larger group to avoid duplication of effort. Be sure that everyone agrees on the time frames for task accomplishment and that every one is using common terminology and thought references. You can really get lost if everyone is working from a different script. It has been said that beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

In this case, the leader has to build consensus on just what beauty looks like. The vision must be shared and understood if the policy is to succeed. It has been my experience that the amount of time you will spend working on the policy document will vary from project to project, depending on the complexity of your policy study and the number of issues that must be considered.

Be sure to schedule sufficient meetings to coordinate the efforts of all task groups as they study existing information and uncover new data sources. It is also critical for you to be aware of time frame issues. In this way, people will not race ahead of the group or lag behind it. Coordination of time and effort should always be a major concern for policy development teams.

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