Archive for July, 2016

Cops Face Catch-22s

When Dallas Police Chief David Brown said recently that we’re asking too much of cops, he meant we’re demanding the impossible.

Not only are we asking the blue to salve a variety of societal ills, we have also put officers in a perpetual catch-22.

On the one hand, we expect them to sniff out horrors before they happen. On the other, we have restricted their instincts and their ability to use past experiences to predict future events.

Across the decades a few rogue officers have certainly committed atrocious injustice against civilians of all races. But most agents enter law enforcement because they believe in order and rightness. They want to give and serve.

Most are like Boerne Police Officer Jason Abbott. He and other local law enforcement faced a catch-22 in recent weeks.

Gun advocates are scattering the countryside to flex their Second Amendment rights. They are walking populated streets of various jurisdictions with arms overtly born. One carried a rifle through Boerne recently with his cell phone camera rolling.

The law allows open carrying so long as no alarm is caused. Unfortunately, defining alarm is about as subjective as choosing the best breakfast taco in San Antonio.

What I find alarming is different than what my six-year-old finds alarming. Yet, cops must decide what’s actually alarming.

The rifle-carrying activist posted his interactions with officers on YouTube. You could tell by his tone he wanted a tussle. “Am I being detained, officer?” he asked as Abbott approached him near the intersection of Main and Blanco.

“No, sir,” Abbott responded respectfully. “I just want to ask you some questions.”

“I feel like I’m being detained. My rights are being violated,” the visitor replied with profanity mixed in.

“If you’ll stay calm, I just want to have a dialogue. Is the gun loaded?” Abbott inquired.

The gentleman pleaded the Fifth Amendment for a moment, but then couldn’t help himself.

The remainder of the video consists of the activist lecturing Officer Abbott on how he should handle calls from concerned citizens about people like him.

It also shows Abbott explaining that he is not taking away anyone’s rights by approaching the subject of another citizen’s call to determine whether a safety concern exists.

Tactfully, Abbott kept the interaction subdued. He seemed to understand that simply allowing passionate voices to be heard usually defuses their intensity.

This situation represents the classic quandary cops face:

Intervene when a situation is safe and get accused of harassment and rights violations; fail to intervene when something is wrong and get accused of missing the chance to stop a tragedy.

I asked a good friend and San Antonio policeman how he’s changed as an officer in recent years.

“I’m less proactive. I’m still willing to lay down my life to protect innocent people like those guys in Dallas did, but I’m more cautious. We all are. That’s why violent crime is up nationwide, 17% in San Antonio this year.”

Along with Chief Brown in Dallas, my friend points to the absence of fathers as the primary driver of the disorder facing our nation. Officers know. They’re on the front lines everyday. They see the decay firsthand.

Meanwhile in ivory towers, distant leaders bark of background checks and gun control. They never mention the best form of gun control ever invented: fathers and sons going hunting together.

Follow Kevin Thompson at http://www.kwt.info.

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Columnist’s Headshot Gets Refresh

For the past 8 years, a headshot photograph taken in my twenties has graced the pages of my local newspaper. I am now in my thirties, late-thirties. It’s time to update my profile.

To spin two phrases from FBI Director James Comey regarding Hillary Clinton’s email habits, the old headshot is not “grossly negligent,” but it is “extremely careless” in its handling of reality.

This is not the only time I have been misrepresented in a widely-consumed publication. An August 2015 edition of Bankers Digest showed my face next to an article about a Kevin Thompson of the Centennial Bank headquartered in Jonesboro, Arkansas.

The Arkansan Thompson had been named an emerging leader of the Arkansas Bankers Association. He sounds like an impressive young man.

My “friends” back here in Texas ridiculed me incessantly for an honest editor’s honest mistake. They obviously don’t understand the frantic nature of the 24-hour community banking news cycle. They accused me of moonlighting and wondered if everything were okay at home.

I assured them I was fine, except for the emotional pain and suffering one endures from being taken advantage of because of his good looks. I’m still considering a lawsuit.

Back to Boerne and the great headshot update of 2016. A variety of factors has compelled this pictorial refresh. For one, autograph requests at the grocery have dipped.

In fact, the only time in the last year I have been recognized in public was at my kids’ school. According to one of their friends, I showed up in art class under a paper mache project.

That was almost as embarrassing as the time a local pharmacy tech flattered me about a recent article while handing me a less-than-flattering prescription. Small-town pharmacy tech would be a fascinating job.

I have also decided to update my headshot because of my fundamental commitment to under-promise and over-deliver. There’s enough baiting and switching going on out there.

Growing up in Nashville, I once barely recognized Tim McGraw and Faith Hill at a local meat-and-three. Things just aren’t the same without the makeup and styling. It’s worse when your headshot is almost ten years old. Perception-as-reality has its limits.

I understand the tension, though. As much as stars don’t want to get old, fans don’t want their stars to fade. It’s sad enough hearing about the Oak Ridge Boys playing second-tier casinos. I don’t want to see what forty years of tryin’ to love two women will do to you.

Hence, most celebrities believe an older photo of a newer subject trumps a newer photo of an older subject.

Not this celebrity. I’m all about authenticity. Therefore, I submit to you today a new headshot…that is almost four years old.

 

Kevin Thompson writes weekly for The Boerne Star in the Texas Hill Country. Follow him at http://www.kwt.info.

 

Strategic Thinking on Leadership

The most basic challenge of leadership is to get followers. The second most basic challenge is to keep them.

Whether it’s getting employees to stick with your vision or getting customers to stick with your brand, leadership is principally about getting and keeping followers.

San Antonio-based management consultant Keith Hughey led a strategic planning and leadership development course in Dallas last month. He offered some insights that are worth repeating.

The freshest and most intriguing concept was a descriptive juxtaposition of an organization’s vision versus the truth about that organization. Hughey’s model was built on the work of sales consulting firm Critical Path Strategies.

Two equilateral triangles sat side by side. One pointed down representing the vision, the other pointed up representing the truth. A listing down the side of the chart showed stakeholder levels, from owners and executives at the top to front line workers and customers at the bottom.

Here’s the crux: The board of directors and “C-suite” management know a lot about the organization’s vision, but only a little bit of the truth.

Conversely, customers know little of the vision but 100% of the truth about what it’s like to do business with that firm.

As you go up the stakeholder chain (front line staff, supervisors, middle management, etc.), stakeholders know progressively more about the vision, but less about the truth.

The instruction is two-fold: (1) Find ways to understand what customers actually experience about your organization; and (2) Find ways to display your company’s vision throughout all stakeholder levels, down to your customer base.

Hughey had a simple but meaningful definition of value: experience minus expectation.

If my experience of your company surpasses what I expected from it, I will assign it value. Otherwise, I will not pay for a product or service that leaves me with more expectation than satisfaction.

Addendum: Once you exceed a customer’s expectation, you just have to be consistent. You don’t necessarily have to keep raising the bar.

This principle applies to personnel, as well. Hughey says seventy per cent of voluntary turnover is caused by something a supervisor did or didn’t do. In other words, experience fell short of expectation.

“People don’t quit their job. They quit their boss,” Hughey states.

With help from the late management science guru, Peter Drucker, Hughey gives seven needs of workers: teamwork, training, communication, recognition, growth opportunities and fairness.

Lacking any of these leads to employee disengagement and turnover.

In evaluating existing staff performance, ask two questions: (1) Would you hire them today? and (2) If they told you they were leaving, would you try to keep them?

“The toughest decisions you will make have to do with people,” Hughey told us.

Finally, Hughey tossed out a twist on Einstein’s famous definition of insanity being doing the same thing and expecting different results.

“The new definition of insanity is doing the same things and expecting the same results. The world is changing too much and too fast,” Hughey believes.

Old methods of gaining and keeping followers (e.g., command and control) are quickly losing effectiveness. People have too many options.

Leadership today must be aware, intentional, convincing and value-producing.

 

Follow Kevin Thompson at http://www.kwt.info.

 

Rules of the Roost

The better half and I had discussed getting chickens at some point in the hypothetical future. Such as when the kids were older, and the house was restored to order.

So, I was slightly surprised when a box of chicks showed up the week before Easter. Slightly more surprising: two ducklings appeared in the box of fowl.

Boerne, Texas, is actually a hotbed for the “chicken-as-pet” movement. Randall Burkey Company on Industrial Drive produces the Happy Hen Chicken Treats sold in Tractor Supply across the country.

Several friends of ours have entered the backyard chicken craze with varying results. The more rural their properties, the less success they seem to have. Evidently, it’s still the Wild West for white meat out there.

I was unaware. Unlike most men in the hill country, I have no motion-activated, Internet-accessed hunting camera in the woods.

So, hearing of hawks, foxes and coons, I planned for the worst as I planned my coop. Its walls would extend twelve inches into the earth. Its frame would consist of commercial grade pressure-treated two by fours.

And despite its name, chicken wire simply wouldn’t do. We would use half-inch steel-welded wire. I stopped just short of a reinforced concrete safe room.

As coop construction commenced, the chicks and ducklings roamed half a refrigerator box in our garage. We quickly realized ducks grow faster than chickens and that ducks have only one kind of stool: loose.

If anyone knows of a company that removes duck movement stains from a garage floor, I could use a recommendation.

After the first week or so, we began to let the youngsters get some fresh air around the yard. Of all the predators I had contemplated, “family dog” was not one of them.

But to a half-Labrador retriever, a chick is basically a ball that throws itself.

For a time, we fended off friendly fire from Hank, as well as from his partner in crime, the family cat, who seemed quite intrigued by the yellow mice that had taken up residence in the garage.

Then, having momentarily let down both our guard and the walls of the barricade the birds occupied, disaster struck.

In three days, Hank eliminated four chickens. The attacks weren’t mutilating bloodbaths. He’s too friendly for that. He basically just played them to death. He literally wrung their necks.

We buried the fallen chickens just days before they were to move into their poultry palace.

About this time, the ducks began sleeping in the yard. After a couple of weeks of safety, one fell prey to a more traditional predator. We’re not sure what it was, but it was at least kind enough to cover funeral expenses.

So, a quick recap of the fowl count: Seven chicks are now 3 chickens, including a rooster; two ducklings are now 1 duck.

Rather than the remaining duck soiling my pristine poultry palace, we released it into the wild at Cibolo Creek. There, we watched her face a predator of another type: a male eager to start a family.

Back at the coop, the young rooster has started to crow. It sounds more like a fog horn than the perky “cock-a-doodle-doo” I remember as a child. Accordingly, I have added an entry to the potential predator list: neighbor with gun.

 

Kevin Thompson can be reached at kevin@kwt.info.

 


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