I generally like Ericka Smith’s columns–indeed, she and Matt Tully generally write the only things worth reading in what used to be a real newspaper. But she got this one really, really wrong.
I know a fair number of police officers, and a significantly larger number of politicians. I also have several colleagues who work closely with IMPD as consultants and researchers. I have not heard any of them criticize Frank Straub’s ideas for change. What I have heard–frequently–is criticism of Straub himself.
I have never personally met the man, but the picture painted by those who do is consistent: he came to Indianapolis with an “attitude.” He gave orders but never listened. He let everyone know that he was from a real city, and knew lots more than the “rubes” here in India-no-place. As willing as he was to dish out criticism, he was incredibly thin-skinned and defensive if anyone dared question or criticize him.
Think about your own job: how likely would you be to accept changes initiated by a boss who acted like that?
We teach public and nonprofit management at the School of Public and Environmental Affairs. One of the central points we make is the importance of “owning” change. Most people–not just in Indianapolis–are uncomfortable with change; in order to effectively shift an organization, a manager must create an atmosphere of trust, must obtain not just the acquiescence, but the understanding and “buy in” of the employees who must implement that change.
If a manager doesn’t do that, it doesn’t matter how great the ideas are. (Remember Steve Goldsmith?)
Indianapolis isn’t rejecting Straub’s changes, Ericka. It’s rejecting Straub.