What is the most important and first task that must be completed when planning a new police for firefighter training center? It may not guarantee success, but without it will guarantee failure?
- Establishing objectives, identifying and understanding what a successful public safety, police, firefighter training center project will mean for you, your department and public you serve.
Before the training center project team can take any step forward it must be able, without hesitation, to answer the following question:
“What Will Success Look Like?”
Let me explain how to best answer this question by applying a couple of popular quotes.
“Plans are nothing; planning is everything”~ Dwight D. Eisenhower
“Strategic planning is worthless – unless there is first a strategic vision” ~ John Naisbitt
“Planning is bringing the future into the present so that you can do something about it now” ~ Alan Lakein
One of the primary reasons that projects struggle to become successful is because there is no clear vision of what is to be accomplished. Over the past twenty years I have seen time and time again training center projects that have vague ideas of the benefits they would like to enjoy, but they lack a solid strategy for getting there.
- “If we don’t know exactly where we want to go, how can we possibly design a good training center strategy for getting there?”
- The reliability of the strategy is directly related to the clarity of the vision!
A good starting point for your training center project is to develop a “Training Center Vision Statement.” A vision statement defines what your department will do and why it will do it and (most important) it has defined goals to be accomplished by a set date.
A vision statement takes into account the current status of the department, and serves to point the direction of where the department wishes to go.
As a side note; a Vision Statement should not be confused with a Mission Statement. Here is the definition of a Mission Statement:
- A mission statement explains the department’s reason for existence. It describes the department, what it does and its overall intention.
What will success look like?
Planning a police or firefighter training center is a process that must begin with a long term strategy and the detailed tasks it will need to succeed. It is important to focus not only on what you need today, but also on your future needs 5, 10, 20 or even 30 years down the road.
A good place to begin when asking the question “What will success look like?” is taking the following ten steps:
- Create a Vision Statement for the Training Center. Here are some examples:
- “We must provide fast, flexible, and focused training to secure and protect America.”~ Federal Law Enforcements Training Center (FLETC)
- “Providing comprehensive, progressive, quality training and support for Kansas law enforcement.” ~ Kansas Law Missouri Enforcement Academy
- “The vision of the Detroit Fire Regional Training Center is to deliver world class emergency response training and preparation.” ~ Detroit Fire Regional Training Center
- What are the three most important objectives the training center must achieve?
- Why are the three most important objectives (above) the most important?
- What is the order of priority to achieve the objectives and why?
- Are the tasks realistic and achievable?
- What are the first steps (start with small steps) that must be started to achieve the objectives?
- What is the timeline to achieve the objectives and how will the progress be tracked?
- What other departments (or staff) need to be involved?
- What do the other department’s (or staff) gain by helping?
- What is the measurement when an objective has been achieved?
In the fast-changing and economically challenged world of public safety, more and more public safety departments are finding that their current training facilities are outdated and sorely lacking in the equipment and props to adequately train their growing numbers of personnel.
As I have stated many times, planning is essential. Any new business venture is enhanced by a straightforward, well-researched plan, and training centers are no exception. To begin a training center project (in most cases it will be a once in a career undertaking), it is imperative to fully assess the need and look into the future to visualize where your department must be relative to accomplishing its training needs.
Start the project with a strong foundation on which to build for the future. Create a Vision Statement with clear, attainable and measurable objectives. Then you will be able to answer the question:
“What will success look like?”
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