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INFLUENCE DIAGRAMS

The purpose of influence diagrams is to identify graphically those forces that could help or hinder a particular initiative, or where there is a need to understand the ability of a community to influence a particular problem. There are two general approaches to this technique: issues based and personality based. The technique will work equally well for either approach; however, it is important when trying to identify key personality influencers that this is done with a degree of discretion and with a clear understanding of how effective an individual's influence really is on the other people involved.

Influence Diagram for Rising Community Crime Levels

Exhibit 21.9 Influence Diagram for Rising Community Crime Levels

To demonstrate the technique, it is perhaps most useful to take an issues-based approach. The first step is developing a coherent statement of the problem to be addressed, which should then be recorded where it can be readily referenced by the analytical team. Once this is done, the issues (or forces) that impact the problem should be brainstormed, and placed in boxes laid out in a circular pattern. Once these are arranged, the group should consider each force in turn, and determine what other forces the force influences or impacts. This is shown by simply drawing a pointed line from the force to those other forces it may impact. Once this is completed for each force, the total number of lines in and out of each box should be tallied. The force with the most "out" lines (i.e., it impacts the greatest number of other forces) is likely to be the key driver or influencer on the problem. The force with the most "in" lines (i.e., it is impacted by the greatest number of other forces) is likely to be the key outcome that needs to be changed.

Using the same example from the force field analysis description, we could develop the influence diagram shown in Exhibit 21.9.

However, police agencies, like all other members of the public service, are impacted by issues of budget, finance, stewardship, and governance. With the 30 largest municipal police agencies in Canada now collectively employing nearly 32,000 officers (and approximately a further 12,000 civilian staff), policing can easily become a big business for many communities to manage.

As scrutiny of public spending has increased, policing has not been immune from criticism; in fact, its large budgets are often seen as an easy target, especially as crime rates continue to fall.

Under these pressures, many police agencies have begun to adopt those business processes now common in the private sector, including enterprise risk management (ERM).

 
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