You want results? You want effective change? You just want to get the job done the right way? You want the master troubleshooter? I’ve got your guy. His name is Bill Bratton. Never heard of this management guru? Well, until today, he was LA’s top cop (he just announced his retirement). He has also been chief of police in Boston and New York.
What has he done that is so special? Crime rates in Los Angeles have declined consistently since 2003 under his leadership. A One Hit Wonder? Not even close. In NYC, as chief of police Bill Bratton reduced crime from 1993 to 2005 by a staggering 75%.
So what is his secret? He operates his department like a business. He gathers metrics and information needed to understand the situation, he develops strategies and action plans and he makes sure that everyone on his team executes the plans. Not so profound, you say? In New York City in 1990 there were 2,263 murders. In 2007, there were 494. How profound is that?
When Bratton came from Boston to New York, one of the things that he discovered is that the drug enforcement teams on the police department worked Monday through Friday, 8-5. Essentially, the exact opposite of when most drug crimes were taking place. He gathered the necessary information, understood the situation and made the appropriate changes. He also tracked the results by measuring things that matter. He didn’t measure how many police were on the street, he measured the reduction in crime. He measured what he was trying to achieve.
I admit that these techniques are not new and not surprising to anyone. But Bill Bratton uses them and executes the plans relentlessly. And it works. I think that is a pretty strong lesson for those of us trying to achieve things that in the long run are probably less daunting that reducing crime in New York or Los Angeles.