12 Reads for ’12

None of these books was published in the last 6 weeks, but they would in my opinion be worth looking at in ’12.
1.  How Doctors Think, Dr. Jerome Groopman.  An insightful consideration of the ways that cognitive biases and our mental shortcuts also known as heuristics left unexamined, can lead doctors to misdiagnoses.  The same phenomena that affect doctors’ decision-making affect officers, often in the same ways and with the same gravity of consequences.
2. How We Decide, Jonah Lehrer.  Another great read about how our brains make decisions with and without our conscious involvement; how better understanding these realities will help us make better decisions.
 .     3.  Thinking, Fast and Slow, Daniel Kahneman.  An in-depth summary for the general reader of current knowledge about what our brains actually do without our permission while we think we are in complete control.  By the guy who won the Nobel for identifying cognitive biases.
       4.  The Checklist Manifesto, Dr, Atul Gawande.  Gordon Graham likes this book.  Gawande writes in the introduction, “the volume and complexity of what we know has exceeded our individual ability to deliver its benefits correctly, safely or reliably.  Knowledge has both saved us and burdened us.”  Gawande’s ideas complement the movement among thoughtful police executives to establish guidelines to guide the exercise of direction, rather than paper over the reality of discretion with forest-killing rulebooks.  Checklists are complexity distilled into simple – but not simplistic — steps and reminders.  They prevent airline disasters and operating room tragedies.

5.  The Wisdom of Crowds, James Surowiecki. The properly-organized group is always smarter than its smartest member.  In an entertaining book the author synthesizes knowledge from dozens of studies to show the value of relying on groups of our peers, subordinates and partners to solve important problems.  Private sector employs this idea successfully as “crowd-sourcing.”  See another take on this in Ideas Are Free.

Strategy and Leadership
      6. Don’t Shoot, David Kennedy, The story of the evolution of the best idea in deterring youth violence in our cities and the story of David’s efforts to develop and spread the message.
7.     Collaborate or Perish!: Reaching Across Boundaries in a Networked World, William Bratton and Zachary Tumin, Reflections and insights on collaboration from the most visionary police executive of the last 100 years and his brilliant Harvard co-author.
      8. But They All Come Back, Jeremy Travis.  The basic text for understanding the cycles of the criminal justice process in the US and the blueprint for developing prisoner re-entry strategies. We have only scratched the surface of the potential to which Travis points us in this book.
      9.   Ideas Are Free, Alan G. Robinson and Dean M. Schroeder  Two leadership experts demonstrate how the simple act of ASKING subordinates can improve performance dramatically.
10.  Building Our Way Out of Crime: The Promise of Police-Community Developer Partnerships, Bill Geller and Lisa Belsky.  This is one of the best expressions of the Broken Windows hypothesis, i.e. as I understand it, disorder, broadly defined, flourishes where the environment signals that it may, and that disorder is the Petri dish for many kinds of crimes.
11.  The Given Day, A Dennis Lehane tour de force. Great blending of the history of Boston, the Police Strike of 1919, and the terroristic nature of Southern “justice” in the first 2 decades of the 20th century.
12.  The Trials of Anthony Burns, J. Albert Von Frank.  The first “call” the Boston PD answered, within one hour of its founding on May 26, 1854, was to quell a riot on Court St. sparked by abolitionists trying to free a black man, Anthony Burns, captured in Boston under color of the Fugitive Slave Act.  Great historical treatment of police trying to balance competing interests with grave consequences, as a subtext to the larger story of the execrable Congressional cave-ins to the Slave Power in the 1850’s.

About stephenomeara

My name is Jim Jordan. I have had the privilege of working with the Boston Police Department and hundreds more departments over my nearly 30-year career in police administration and city government. I am now teaching and consulting independently at www.sergeantsleadership.org. I have learned the best of what I know from the thousands of smart, dedicated and ethical police personnel and scholars who have guided me along the way. My address is named for the great Reform commissioner of the Boston Police at the turn of the 20th century. Commissioner O'Meara died just a short while before the Strike in 1919. He was replaced by a vicious puppet (of Gov. Coolidge) named Edwin U. Curtis. Had O'Meara lived events may have turned out quite differently.
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2 Responses to 12 Reads for ’12

  1. policeideas says:

    Testing the function

  2. Nancy Snyder says:

    I would recommend the Personal Memoirs of Ulysses S. Grant for his assessment of the leadership skills of his generals.

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