We set goals, lofty ideals we wish to achieve.  Then, we have to identify all the tasks needed to achieve those goals.  Sometimes, those tasks can take over and become our focus.

This is a problem when we mistake the tasks for actual goals.  We can even lose our ability to achieve the goals because of this confusion.

As we start to focus on the executing the tasks we can lose sight of whatever the original goal was and perhaps even prevent the goal from being achieved.  It is the old adage: “hard to remember, when you are up to your ass in alligators, that you came to drain the swamp.”

We have seen this happen many times.  The goal of a business is to make a profit.  No profit, no business (unless you are Amazon).  Managers have to always be aware that processes have to evolve or change totally to match changing business conditions to achieve the goal of profitability.

We have seen this same problem come up in the news of late with police practices.  Police are commissioned to keep peace and order.  But they have exhaustive processes to follow, processes that are constantly changing because of legal precedents and technology changes.

Police forces can forget that they are there to get traffic moving rather than write tickets; or, keep the peace instead of stopping people who fit their criminal profile.  Or creating statistics to support their budgets.

While they mainly do an excellent job maintaining the peace, we have recently seen some egregious cases in the US, thanks to cell phone video.  Like the case of Errol Garner who died while being apprehended by at least four policemen.

Police interpretation was that Garner was resisting because he did not, or perhaps could not, comply with their orders.  Those orders are tasks the police follow.  Unfortunately, the public does not watch these incidents with a mind on police compliance with their tasks or procedures.  The public looks at the overall goal of keeping the peace.  In this case, a man is doing something moderately illegal but not disrupting the peace.  He is taken down in the same manner as a dangerous offender.

It is the lack of judgment in defining the context when applying the tasks that disturbs the public.  And creates public unrest and suspicion of the police.

Public opinion is not always in line with what the laws are.  To keep the peace, the police must walk a thin line between the law and public support for their actions.

In many communities in the US, the police have not taken this into account and now do not have public support.  That can undermine their overall goal and make each of their tasks a much tougher job to do.

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