IdeaScale Nation

Queensland Police: Innovating in a Hierarchical Environment

April 18, 2019 IdeaScale Season 1 Episode 1
IdeaScale Nation
Queensland Police: Innovating in a Hierarchical Environment
Chapters
IdeaScale Nation
Queensland Police: Innovating in a Hierarchical Environment
Apr 18, 2019 Season 1 Episode 1
IdeaScale

In the first episode of IdeaScale Nation, we interview Kelly McAuliffe and Charmaine Meiklejohn of the Queensland Police who are running an innovation program that connects their workforce of 15,000 frontline officers to the department's leadership and their strategic initiatives. The ideas from the frontline are informing solutions, but also changing culture. Find out the best practices associated with innovating in a hierarchical environment and how employee engagement can be transformational.

Show Notes Transcript

In the first episode of IdeaScale Nation, we interview Kelly McAuliffe and Charmaine Meiklejohn of the Queensland Police who are running an innovation program that connects their workforce of 15,000 frontline officers to the department's leadership and their strategic initiatives. The ideas from the frontline are informing solutions, but also changing culture. Find out the best practices associated with innovating in a hierarchical environment and how employee engagement can be transformational.

Speaker 1:

[inaudible]

Speaker 2:

I would like to welcome all of you to ideas scales . First innovation podcast. It's a podcast where we're interviewing innovators, change makers , social connectors, and hearing how they're empowering employees or their customers to use their voice, to create positive change in the world. And our first guests on our new podcast are , uh, they traveled across an ocean to be here today. We're speaking to the Queensland police. Welcome Kelly. Welcome Charmaine. Thanks very much, Jessica. Uh, could you , uh, tell me a little bit about , uh, each of yourselves.

Speaker 3:

Yes, I'll go first. Thank you. So I'm Kelly. Um, I am a Queensland police officer's sworn officer. So I've been in the police for 22 years. And part of that role, I was frontline operational policing , uh, our community of Queensland. Uh , but in recent years it's taken me into a, more of a project space working in our innovation unit. And my name is Charmaine. I'm also from the innovation unit at Queensland police. Um, my title is principal advisor innovation , uh, and I've been with the police service only a couple of years. So I'm a newbie in comparison to a lot of the other officers that work there. Um, my background I've got private industry. Um, I've done work in transport in rail and water and , um , banking. So I've got a bit of a varied background.

Speaker 2:

Interesting and interesting that you guys have an innovation department at Queensland police. It's definitely an emerging field. I think it's about 30% of our customers now do have a dedicated innovation discipline, but it's not so so many other of our customers are working out of their product team or working out of their customer team . So tell me about , uh, w how, why , when did you guys get an innovation department and why?

Speaker 3:

So we commenced about two years ago. U h, at that time there was a change in the vision for the organization and it put a lot more emphasis on innovation and collaborations. So perfect time. We c ouldn't thank the stars for aligning enough for us because to have that front and center for the vision for an organization is amazing. U h, we feel really fortunate. There's a lot of other agencies that don't actually have units, as you've said. U m, and w e h ave we're growing so hopefully, u m, a nd we'll continue to grow. So we're a dedicated unit of six now. Okay. U m, which is, u m, a fully funded unit for that. And it's interesting because we've always been an innovative organization, but it's happened in pockets around the state and we weren't actually capitalizing on the benefits of the great work being done. So part of our role is to really get out there and see what's happening and make sure, u h, u h, something that's going so well for someone can actually b e picked up and

Speaker 4:

Moved across another part of our state. Interesting. And that's what we've been able to do. And, and the whole organization is seeking better benefits from that.

Speaker 2:

So innovation can be just about knowledge transfer to and distributing that knowledge.

Speaker 3:

Absolutely. Yeah. Looking at, cause I'm new to police. I see it . It is definitely an innovative organization for us . It is scaling the work because it's quite a large state and to connect people right across such a large state , um, can be difficult. It's it's gives complexity and the type of work that they do and the environment they work in can be quite different, but you can always learn from another perspective.

Speaker 2:

Interesting. How big is, how much territory do you guys take in?

Speaker 4:

Yeah , state is 663,000 square miles. So it's four times the size of California. Wow. Uh, and in , in our organization we have 15,000 people in our state. We have 5 million people. So in comparison to here, obviously a lot smaller, but very widespread and , and working across a vast range of environments as Charmaine said. So from regional to Outback policing, through to coastal and metropolitan city policing. Interesting. So very, very different environments.

Speaker 2:

And so you have an innovation department. What does the word innovation mean to you? Is it a buzz word or how does it apply to your jobs?

Speaker 4:

For me, it's simply doing things differently and better to add value. Um, and it might be the case that it's not a brand new concept. It's just tailoring the way in which we've been doing something in the past to make sure it's more efficient and effective and achieving better and quicker results.

Speaker 3:

So for me, I'd like to add to that. I agree. It depends on the organization you're from, and the context can be very different. Um, so for some they'll want to go for big wins, long, higher risk . Um, for us, we really wanted to engage our workforce. Uh, so for me, it's people as well, and , and this is close to Kelly's heart, as well as mine . This is about connecting people. It's about connecting information, knowledge, hopefully funding as well. Um , so that you can do the good things that you need to do. Um, but yeah, it's people, most things, I think even AI aside it's, it's about people.

Speaker 2:

Interesting. One, you bring up AI, one of the questions I wanted to ask you about wh ere, what are some of the emerging trends when it comes to policing and maybe government work, I guess, too, but to you guys specifically,

Speaker 4:

Well, I think for us policing and particularly in the last couple of years and moving forward into the future is we've gone from very much a static state to a mobile state , um , where we're able to do a lot more out and about in the field, which is keeping our officer's front line front and center and in the presence of the public more often. But with that, we're bringing in capability of body-worn cameras , um, where they're actually , um , being able to record their interactions with the public. Uh, I'd like to think moving forward for us and with the biometrics coming into play facial recognition, we'll get to a point where our officers will be able to receive a feed directly from the camera into a , uh , an audio feed into their ear, letting them know who it they're actually engaging with before they've had to run or ask for a manual check to be done on a person. Wow,

Speaker 2:

That's very future forward

Speaker 4:

And look very powerful for our people, but for the safety of the community as well. Um, and safety of officers and our communities is paramount for us. So any technology or capability that provides that quicker is a great thing. Interesting.

Speaker 3:

So for me, it's a closer connection with the community I can see, and this is as an unsworn member, not a police officer. I can see our officers in the field doing fantastic work and connecting with the community. I think that has to increase. I think that's the best way to build trust, to understand what's happening in your environment. So you can really connect with your community to police and support the community and what they need. And I think the Queensland police service is probably going to go even more down that path than where we are .

Speaker 2:

Yeah. That's really interesting because you mentioned a new technology, which is, I think what a lot of people think of when they're thinking about trends, but like human connection connection is a powerful trend to support and adopt.

Speaker 3:

Absolutely. And that's with any industry really understanding your customer or understanding the people that you work with, what they need to do, how you can help them. Um, and if you can get at the magic, you know, that magic thing that can, can give you the answers that you need to help them. Then we all we're all after it. That's for sure.

Speaker 2:

Interesting. So that, that could be transformative for you guys. Definitely. Um, because we we've been talking to some libraries actually and how their role in communities is changing because , you know, books don't necessarily need to be on paper anymore, but they're finding their , have they have the strong role to play in the community. That's sort of even separate from the old service that they were providing. So there's more that you guys do in some ways now than you did before.

Speaker 4:

Yes. In varying ways. I think that's, what's most noticeable for our organization is historically to connect with the community. It was out physical contact. Right. Whereas Charmaine's talking to so many other opportunities now for us to have contact with the members of the community in so many different ways, but it's how they want it as well. Yes. And I think the challenge, sorry, the challenges there is in Queensland, we've got very much an aging population, but we've got a very young workforce coming through. So to balance that , um, that want, and the desire for technology or social connection fire, potentially an app or a device versus the want and need for face-to-face connection, we really have to , it's a real fine line to balance.

Speaker 2:

That's , that's an interesting thing to , to that interesting challenge. Um, so tell me about your program. How are you trying to create positive change at your organization? What are you doing? Um, well

Speaker 4:

Talk primarily from our platform perspective, with respect to ID scale and our platforms called ICOP, which is IDs connecting our people. So for us, that was , um, it was a real game changer. Uh , essentially we have gone from an organization that was very strict chain of command hierarchy. And you had to go through every level of the rank structure before a decision could be made potentially five levels higher. And it was unheard of for a younger junior officer to talk to a senior officer. There was , um, not so much a disconnect, but the there's the processes in place prohibited that. So what our organization, our executive members came on board and said, we want to hear from all of our people, no matter where they are around the state, we need to connect that. So essentially they were giving them permission to speak outside of the chain of command. And that was huge for us. That was a really big game changer. And it basically said to our youngest, most junior people, your important to this organization, you have value to add, and we want you to be a part of the future decision-making. So that has been a fantastic change for us. And as an officer myself of 22 years , uh, I can vouch for the fact that you were never asked ordinarily, it was, you went out , you knew what you had to do, and you did your job. Now. We're actually being a part of the future decisions. And that's fantastic.

Speaker 3:

There's a good reason for that. So , um, as a member of the public, I want to know that that someone's in control, who's in charge. There's really good processes. These officers know exactly what they're doing. So there's a time and a place for that. And it's not to say, you throw a baby out with the bath water in that kind of scenario. You need that kind of control , um, when it's needed. But , uh , in the times that we're in and the amount of capability that we have within the service , there's people that have been there for a very long time or some experienced people that have been there for a short time, with different experience. We really need to make sure that we give a different way for the different people within our organization to contribute. So, yeah.

Speaker 2:

Was, was there friction when you, when you sort of took some, took the chain of command and tweaked it,

Speaker 4:

There was a little , uh, it was a very big cultural change for people. So there was, our narrative was very important that we went out there. It was critical that we said, what is in it for them. And it wasn't to disrespect the chain of command. It was to make sure we weren't missing valuable opportunities. And in fact, that making sure that the chain of command , uh , wasn't stifling innovation, not necessarily deliberately, but because of the complexities of their work.

Speaker 3:

And it's about honoring the past that, that the organization has worked well for a very long time. That's not about saying it hasn't. Yeah . It's simply about saying, well, we're moving the , the world is moving, society's moving. So let's start to, to be ahead of the change , uh, adapt what we need to evolve, what we need to create, what we need to in order to get there.

Speaker 2:

And , uh , so do you have , uh, campaigns around specific initiatives or how do you choose what you collect our ideas around?

Speaker 4:

Well, that's interesting for us, we chose to deliberately design our system in two ways. So we wanted a space full, open innovation, where they could submit any idea. They could ask a question or they could share knowledge with anyone else around the state. We also had a separate space, which we term challenges similar t o, to campaigns. And that gave us the opportunity to really focus attention on one particular topic and do more of a deeper dive into that topic. So what we would find with the open space, the data themed itself very quickly. Interesting. We generally came up with five key areas that our people would really talk about all the time. So what that allowed me to do initially was to identify th at t he business owners or t he content experts in that space, bring them on b o ard v ery quickly, build that relationship to say, they're talking about your product here, or your work package. Would you like to connect closer? And let's dive deeper into that. And they came on board very quickly with that. So we found that very valuable for us. Once we identified where's the energy of our people, then we focus the attention on that energy and to get some really good results.

Speaker 2:

That's a really interesting way to approach rolling out a program like this is using it to map trends first and then solutions after that.

Speaker 3:

And I mean, it was, we did speak to other organizations and to their approaches locally , um , and just to learn exactly what they were up to because there's, there is some , um, it's a challenge to deal with scale when you're looking at broad based bottom up innovation and using a model that's slightly decentralized can help your team if you're small in order to, to have , uh, cope with that scale. So , um, and, and we're not the content experts in everything. We don't know everything. We've got these fantastic business owners in the field that understand their product or the service they provide internally really well. Well imagine connecting those people together and that's what the platform helped us do.

Speaker 2:

And what's an example of one campaign. If you can say, I think a r eal challenge,

Speaker 4:

Probably the best one would be the cue light one. So cue lights are our iPads, which our of fices u se out on the street to do their checks and to do some entries. So they're completely mobile. They don't have to go back to the station like they used to have to do so there's a ti me-saving, which is a cost saving for our people. Our QL ife t eam we 're a lready funded to do. They had 16 packages of work to do over the next 12 months. Now the team themselves had prioritize that work in what they thought it should, the order it should be done in. They use the system to go out, to run a challenge, to go to our fr ontline a nd say, this is the work that will be happening in the next 12 months. This is how we've themed it up. We want you to vote five times to tell us your top five. So they only had open for two weeks in two weeks, they got two and a half thousand votes from our people, Oh my goodness. And completely reprioritize their top five order. Wow. And what was great about that was one of the items that the project team had in the top five, they actually got negative 67 votes. Wow. The frontline didn't feel there was a need or an i mp ortance in that topic at all. So that pushed it right back down the end of the line. Interesting. So we were completely able to reprioritize what was important to our people. What gave the project team value on, in something that was going to have the best benefit and nee d for, for the people that we'r e ser ving,

Speaker 3:

No extra funding needed. This is the other killer. So , um, no extra funding needed. Uh, we're connecting the content experts directly with their customer. If you like internally , um, creating that relationship online , um, uh , amazing from an outcome point of view, to make sure that we're there , they're being listened to and heard from a frontline point of view, but also our people developing these products in the back end . If you like understand their customer a lot better and want to, they really want to engage with them as well.

Speaker 2:

Do you have an example of a story , um , where a good idea couldn't make it through? Was there a barrier to , to that or,

Speaker 4:

Well, I think one that comes to mind a nd it comes through regularly, u m, and it's it's to do with legislation and legislation change for our people and where the barrier comes into play. There, it's not the w ant to do it, but in with our legislation, the Queensland police o wn certain components and other departments own other d epart, u h, other parts of legislation, which we have very little control over. So the value on that whilst we weren't able to get, u m, an actual result in the first instance for them, we're able to better educate our people, to let them know the b ackend process of legislative change that is not owned by the QPS. U m, and what that brought about was it took away the frustration of them thinking that they're not listening, they're not doing anything. U m, so by us being able to give them a look at it w ill be a n o at this point for this reason, u m, that was well received. Oh, it's a no don't realize that that's a no, but I now understand why it's a no, and there was a lot of value in that for,

Speaker 2:

And then it stays up there. So then next time somebody has that it's transparent and persistent.

Speaker 3:

And the beauty of the platform is you put in a particular content area, then it prompts you and gives you all this other information. So the lovely thing on the platform for me is the knowledge management I'm linking an idea with. And there's other things that , that are on the tool around major programs that are launching or have launched answers to questions that people have placed up there. They've got this real opportunity to see all of that content and go, Oh, actually, Oh, there's already something that's on there. I can vote on that. That's something that's important to me. Or I didn't know about that particular program that's up and coming so very valuable from that point of view as well.

Speaker 4:

I think , well, it's good as well as w we're now seeing commentary from our people saying, this is a great idea. I've been asking or trying to get this through for three to four years, and they're now seeing results. And that's mainly because it was given the right attention and it was handed to the right people.

Speaker 3:

Cool . And it's also the connection, the energy out there. So, you know, the number of votes, the other things that are happening can basically say there's, there's a need. So understanding and finding that energy within your organization and giving it that attention is very important.

Speaker 2:

So somebody has a great idea. One of your frontline police officers has a great idea. They go to ICAP and they put it in what happens next.

Speaker 4:

Okay. This is an interesting space for us. And just the general, what will happen. It will go in , um, one of our moderators will, u m, u h, make a comment of some sort. And that's generally just a, Hey great idea. U m, thanks for commenting. We're interested to hear what others have to say about this. Our main rule with the system was to keep it conversational. We didn't want an automatic thank you for your submission. You will have a response in 24 hours. So we were very much the personal voice on the system. We w ould then sit and watch it generally percolate probably five to seven days. And you'd see very quickly whether there was energy around it from other members. U m, what we would also see is at times, peers would jump on either value, a dd, or t hey would actually solve the solution together because somewhere else in the state had already contended with this issue, this topic, and w ere able to give a resolution what our role would then be. If our business owner, the expert had an already seen the idea and jumped on in their own time and commented on it, we would poke the bear a little bit, either make a phone call or email them initially to say, Hey, look, there's some conversation about your work package here. Um, can you provide some advice for us dependent on the level of engagement would depend on whether we would move it through the funnel? Okay . We didn't have a voting threshold and we still don't have a threshold. We generally disengaged and determine that by the interest of our business owner, but also more , most importantly, the interest of our field through votes or comments, and we would move it through the funnel as it would, where it would be sitting at, if it was under investigation initially, then we'd gradually take it through. What was important for us was to keep regular updates to our people to say, it's gone here. It's been accepted. It's going to for a proof of concept or it's, Hey, look, it's had to skip all of those. It's gone straight to a great wind cause we've been able to achieve a result without undue delay.

Speaker 3:

And so you guys are matchmakers in your organization , essentially. Yeah, yeah , yeah. This need matches this business unit and this is what they're already doing or you're not,

Speaker 4:

But the great thing is 12 months on. We're not having to match make really they're creating connections themselves. Wow. Which is really , um, you know, very rewarding to sit back as a moderator of 12 months and see these romances blossoming on their own. Um, but that's, that's something that we've been very fortunate there. We've had some great owners on board

Speaker 3:

And that's a Testament to the moderators. It's also a Testament to those people that are really, again, like our executive . They want to engage with their customers. They want to be doing the right thing for these people. So the intent and the organization is really positive. Can you tell me a story about a , um, another idea that's made an impact at Queensland? So we , we had one of our offices place an idea about connecting with our community a little bit better. U m, and it was just technology that is already available. It's, u m, a way of you can use your email to provide an SMS to the, to our, our community members. So from one point of view, it doesn't sound very innovative, but from a point of view of what's happening in the, out in the world, how many of us pick up our phone? As soon as that little thing comes up, where we're already socially engineered to have a bit of a look at these, these things that are attached to us now. So it's a better way. Our community actually liked that as a way of us connecting with them, giving them an update on what was occurring, asking them to pop into a station and say, look, we've got some paperwork for you or to give them an update on it, on something. So, and people are busy, they're in a meeting or they've got their kids, or so it's about giving them the information when they're ready for it, rather than when we're ready for it. So a lot of our , our stations have private numbers. People generally don't answer private numbers. So we, if you can imagine we're keeping and calling the community on a regular basis. When , when we do a text, it's a much quicker process. We'll get a quick text back potentially from a community member to say, yes, I'm coming in will 12. O'clock be fine. Bell . The meeting's already set. Um, we're saving time. We're not popping out. And sometimes we'd leave calling cards in, in people's mailboxes. So that's, you know, fuel costs and officer costs when they could be doing something else in the field. So this one was awesome because there's productivity gains t hat it's better. It's simpler for our o ffices. They're loving the fact that it's happening. U m, it's better for our customers. We had some rural customers say I'm out of range. U m, I didn't know you were after me. U h, so from their point of view, they've come back in range and got these messages and are aware of what's going on. So we're providing a better service to our community. U m, and it might seem like a little small thing, something that already is out there, it's just about us adapting, u m, our processes and some of the technology that we have. U m, yeah. So

Speaker 4:

The really good thing that I liked so much with this one is two of ficers r aised this, u m , i dea within a day of each other, very similar ideas fo r t he SMS. Yes. And then a third person came on and said, Hey, look, I've just come across from corrections. We used to use this. So you've had three young officers from Gl adstone, the North of the state Brisbane and another one in the middle of the state or co llaborating on this one idea, which allowed us to bring it out into a small proof of concept. So to, to reward those officers, we did the two trials in their area. So them and their colleagues got to feel the immediate benefits from it. They got support that. Hey , great idea. Did you think of this? This was really good. So it gave that fostering of that and it basically said jump on our c ock p it work s. Right ? Giv e us some more ideas.

Speaker 2:

That's a great idea. Cause yeah , you're engaging them and mentoring them so that there's visibility to the efficacy of the program. The ruse , yeah.

Speaker 3:

It's trust. They've actually put something on. They can tell their peers. No, actually this is a worthy platform. It's worthy of your attention to put something in here. If it's something that's important to you and the proof's in the pudding, when you need to deliver, it's not simply about the votes or , uh , necessarily providing the content. Um, it's, it's delivering for the people that, that have proposed that idea.

Speaker 2:

Um, so are you going to change or modify your program going forward now that you've got some experience?

Speaker 4:

It's an interesting space. Um, I'm very happy 12 months on where we are. I can see that there's certainly opportunity to do things differently and potentially better, really looking forward to , um , tomorrow's , uh, conference to meet with other customers to find out, well, how are you working? What's working for you that would adapt and be able to be applied to us. So I certainly think there's scope to expand what we're doing. Uh, I think we've really set it up with very good foundation. We've got , um, definitely got buy-in from our people. Um, so over 40% of our organization has opted in on their own six and a half thousand members signed up and regularly engaging on the platform.

Speaker 2:

That's a great adoption rate and especially re-engaging

Speaker 4:

Oh, yes, yes. And that's the point and far and wide. So every level and every location is represented in one way or another. So that's really good, but l ove to look at other opportunities to see how others are doing it differently. Y eah,

Speaker 3:

Absolutely. We'll never say never. And the program's adapted along the way. It's you learn lessons on a daily basis. So , um, and , and for us, it's, it's again with the conference and meeting other, other organizations using the platform tomorrow, I think we'll learn a lot. Uh, and then we'll probably take some of that back and put that into what we do.

Speaker 2:

Um, so if you were going to give advice to other community policing organizations like yourselves, what would the advice be

Speaker 4:

For me? It's um, that true, real, raw connection with your people , um, selling to them, what's in it for them, the why you're doing it for them. And really , uh, for , for me, it was that flipping of the model for many years, you've been told what to do. We're now asking you what you would like done, but you need to be a part of that. So that strong , um , credibility, listen to what they're saying. Don't be afraid to say, no, it's not possible, but it gives them explanations as to why, but show them how good the journey can be. If they're on board and the results you can get for them. Cause it's there that the takings there find the energy, give it the attention. You will get the results.

Speaker 3:

And for me, it's about outcomes. Be clear about what you want to achieve design some measures. So, you know, you're actually on the right path in terms of a journey and I can't stress that enough. And we did that initially with our program , uh, and what you can do depending upon what outcome you're interested in is build your team and your tools around this. Because the type of program that you may have, maybe a little bit different to ours , um, it's horses for courses. There's a lot of material out there that they can actually, and there's some really good blog posts that Jessica has done from a point of view of innovation that I'd recommend. I have a look around, understand what's happening in the world and you can learn from other people,

Speaker 2:

Right? Yeah. I mean, I think it's one of the, one of the things that's really great and interesting about your program is that the way you had those of ficers b e the test cases and prototype, they, a lot of people think that their communications plan is about email or, but, but it's the people in your member network are your strongest advocates and channels. So

Speaker 3:

Kelly was laid for engagement. Kelly spent most of her time, not behind a computer, she was out there talking to people. So she was engaging with people in order to explain the why about the platform, what we wanted to achieve , um, ask them questions around what they could see around opportunity and having that two w ay conversation it's in the platform. Absolutely. But when you're starting off and I really think along the way, you need to re reconnect with your people, right? B ecause you can reorient your program based upon content from your audience. So it's one of the things that we're very big on is around that as much as we can. Um , a nd Paul Kelly flying across all those miles to connect with the community. We have,

Speaker 4:

We actually went back out to them twice on the platform, asking for feedback on how it was working for them to reach the ones that we couldn't get out to see face-to-face . And we would ask them. And a classic example is , is the leaderboard . We had that to start with. And we were hearing outside of the platform, I'm not sure about the leaderboard . So we put it out there for a poll and we said, majority will rule. So we no longer have it visible. We can still report on it, but it's not. So again, that was demonstrating to then we are really listening to what you want. It's about you, the platform, it's not about us. So it worked in our favor. In that regard, we are not afraid to go back and say to them, is this the working for you?

Speaker 2:

Well, is there anything else that you would like to add before we wrap up for today ?

Speaker 4:

You'll be amazed at what you can get out of it. Your people are full of energy.

Speaker 2:

Awesome. Well, thank you very much for flying out here to do this in person. It's been a really great conversation. I think people are going to have a lot to learn from your program. Um, thanks again.