On the third of July 1987, I am sworn in a police officer in the Queensland Police Force. On the very same day, the Queensland government announces that it is launching the biggest royal commission into police and government corruption in Queensland and perhaps Australia’s history. As a result, as far as business and supporter profiles go, the Queensland Police Force basically has none. Confidence in and support for police in Queensland is virtually non-existent.
To the point where one day I am performing radar duty and I intercept a vehicle travelling at 81 kilometres an hour in a 60-kilometre zone. As I walk up to the vehicle, the driver gets out of her car and strides up to me in her habit. Yes, I am being berated by a nun. She doesn’t even take a breath. ‘How dare you pull me over for doing 1 kilometre over the speed limit!! Is your radar gun accurate? I can’t believe this. No wonder we all think you are corrupt!’ She exclaimed!
I had to cop it from a nun! Over her shoulder, I could see the three other nuns in her car glaring at me with disdain. After the nun calms down and I am able to explain to her that she was actually travelling 21 kilometres over the speed limit, she begrudgingly takes the ticket from me, turns about and storms back to her car and drives away.
It is that bad, even the clergy has no faith in the police. Even though I am the butt of the jokes back at the station, the reality of the situation doesn’t hit me until senior members of our organisation several years later are charged and convicted of corrupt behaviour. For a new guy in the police, the organisation’s culture had not affected my own values and beliefs so I was pretty taken aback to be abused by a nun! I hadn’t done anything wrong but, the organisation I belonged to had. Guilt by association.
So what does this have to do with culture and value proposition? Nobody wants to be associated with a product with a market value that is virtually nil. In fact, the Queensland Police had no market value. If police were bananas on the shelf in Woolies, no one would buy them. They would stay on the shelf until they became spotted, soft and very unattractive until they were eventually thrown out. Absolutely no appeal at all. In short, no value proposition. No reason for being.
Police have always had a very strong culture. But it was a culture of exclusion and insularity. Tony Fitzgerald, the judge responsible for the Fitzgerald INquiry said that ‘police and police work define their self-image, their attitude to society and the place within it. Peer pressure is overwhelming.’ If you were a member of the organisation you were one of the ‘brotherhood’ and you would be protected no matter what. The police culture’s ultimate strength is also it’s Achilles heel.
There are ingredients that are vital for a successful culture and a culture that not only improves an organisation’s or individual’s value proposition internally but more importantly, makes you or the organisation one to whom people will turn.
My future blogs will explain these ingredients.