Blue Line

Features Editor’s Commentary Opinion
Rethinking change

After reading this issue’s cover story, The passion to serve, a profile about the Service de police de la Ville de Montréal (SPVM), I immediately remembered the time I attended a change management workshop delivered by Peter de Jager.

June 27, 2017  By Paul Grossinger

De Jager, a world-renowned change management expert, speaker, and consultant, “changed” the way I looked at change.

In his workshop and throughout his musings, de Jager talks about the fact that although nobody likes change, nobody actually could live without change. Imagine doing the exact same job for five, 10, 15 years. Imagine performing the same routine day in and day out for years upon years. How about drinking the same wine or eating at the same restaurant for a prolonged period of time. Most, if not all, people would display the behaviour — boredom, frustration, anger — Bill Murray so cleverly illustrated during his portrayal of Phil in the 1993 movie Groundhog Day.

But this is where de Jager’s change management theory really hits home with me. As a graduate of Ryerson University’s School of Journalism, I was taught the typical reporter’s line of questioning: Who, What, Where, When, How and Why? Great queries that often illicit the necessary answers to write an article or to track down a story. However, when it comes time to implement real, ef- fective change, these questions often won’t move the needle to experience change with staying power.

Instead, de Jager suggests asking these questions when change is desired: 1) Why? 2) What’s In It For Me – the question others will ask when noticed about the change? 3) Monday – what is different come the first day change is implemented? 4) Won’t – what won’t change? 5) Might – what might go wrong during this change? 6) Will – what’s going to hurt? 7) Signposts – how to measure progress towards a goal?

For me, change begins with the realization that something might not be working like it should. For the SPVM, the host city of this year’s Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police Conference, change is upon its more than 6,000 employees. I was so impressed to see the honesty of its police chief, Phillippe Pichet, when he says, “A police organization of the scope of the SPVM needs to adapt to the society that surrounds it…. The work of Montreal police officers is increasingly complex. They must content with a constantly evolving environment.”

And nothing could be closer to the truth. The world around us is changing, and with that comes different threats, different problems, different realities that need new solutions, new approaches and new lines of thinking. Front-line officers are still dealing with the more traditional crimes, such as robberies, assaults and even murders, but they are also con- fronted with new-age crimes like identity theft, human tracking and cyber crime, which require new approaches, new expertise and new sensitivities.

Add to the mix the opioid epidemic in Canada, as well as the growing number of people suffering from mental illness, and what you have is a policing environment that requires a different level of communication, partnership and openness amongst its different agencies and stakeholders in order to deal with the ev- er-changing public safety landscape.

Change is never easy and it is never without repercussions, but for Canada’s police community, including the SPVM, change is upon us, and it might be the only constant it faces for the next little while.

Paul Grossinger is the publisher of Blue Line magazine, and a group publisher at Annex Business Media. He can be contacted at:

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