1.      How would you describe Bill Bratton's change strategy? How does he decrease the size of the forces resisting change?


According to many researchers, Bratton’s turnaround was an example of tipping point leadership. The theory of tipping point, which has its roots in epidemiology, hinges on the insight that in any organization, once the beliefs and energies of a critical mass of people are engaged, conversion to a new idea will spread like an epidemic, bringing about fundamental change very quickly (Gottschalk, 2006). Mr. Bratton concentrated his effort in four areas:

• Confront managers with the need to change. Put them face-to-face with operational problems (abstract messages do not work). Message has to be tailored for each segment (visionary, pragmatist). Have leadership team experience the organization’s problems.

• Manage around limited resources. Concentrate resources on areas most in need of              change and with the biggest possible payoffs (80/20 rule). Use data-driven decision processes, intuition in some cases, but in conjunction with data. Refocus resources where already have to match mission goals. Focused resources in 3 to 5 dimensions of diversity areas that they are critical to the organization’s success. Developed a simple scorecard based on the areas of most importance.

• Narrow the motivation problem. Motivate key influencers & make their success                  visible. For change to be successful people must recognize the need for change and yearn to do it themselves. Found and motivated the key influencers and made their successes visible and public. Made change achievable and measureable.

• Close off resistance from powerful opponents. Identified and silenced key naysayers by including a trusted and respected member on your team, constrain there impact, or remove them. Silenced the opposition with key indisputable facts. Had the courage to not be liked for a period of time.


He alerted employees to the need for change and identified how it can be achieved with limited resources. The strategy pursued the goal that each employee must not only recognize what needs to be done, they must also want to do it. This process takes a long time to be implemented and usually is very expensive, but Bratton’s strategy fractioned and divided the challenges in small pieces that they could be manageable. Each head level at the police workforce had a specific goal to reach. Once that this critical mass of people was engaged, they could lead the challenge and spread the idea to their teams.

The NYPD had a strong resistance to changes characterized by the four individual resistance (self-interest, low tolerance for change, different assessments and misunderstanding and lack of trust) and the six organizational resistance (Group inertia, threat to expertise, threat to established power relationships, limited focus of change, structural inertia, and threat to established resource allocations).  The NYPD, with a $ 2 billion budget and a workforce of 35,000 police officers, was notoriously difficult to manage, and it could be expected to find a lot of resistance under the introduction of significant changes.

Bratton used different tactics based on education and communication, anticipation, participation and involvement, building support and commitment, giving clear direction, manipulating, and selecting people who accepted, understood and executed the changes. Bratton anticipated the danger of both forces and the menace that they represented for the reform process. Face on that, the rumor and cynicism were very important factors that he early identified and silenced. Bratton style was direct, leading by example, indisputable facts, and collaborative. He trusted in key people that help him to spread the change process. John Timoney, the number two behind Bratton, carried out a report to Bratton on the likely attitudes of the top staff toward Bratton’s concept of zero tolerance policing, identifying those who would fight or silently sabotage the new initiatives. For example, when Bratton first asked to compile detailed crime maps and information packages for the strategy review meetings, most precinct commanders complained that the task would take too long and waste valuable police time that could be better spent fighting crime. Anticipating this argument, deputy commissioner Jack Maple set up a reporting system that covered the city’s most crime-ridden areas. Operating the system required no more than 18 minutes a day, which worked out, as he told the precinct commanders, to less than 1% of the average precinct’s workload.



2.      While his change strategy communicates, he does not engage in much talking about the he wants to see and why it is good or necessary or required. Why do you think he avoids these discussions?


To engage in much public talking about the strategy it is food for resisters of changes. To communicate with details the goals that he pursued is a strong source for speculation and cynicism. Bratton knew that he needed to avoid both of them and anticipate any potential resistance to changes. Bratton found many people inside or outside the organization with disproportionate power due to their connections with the organization, their ability to persuade, or their ability to block access to resources. Bratton recognizes that these influencers act like kingpins in bowling: When you hit them just right, all the pins topple over. To give strategic information to these people represented a tactic mistakes that Bratton didn’t want to make.

For example, often the most serious opposition to reform came from outside, specifically for politics of change. Bratton’s strategy for dealing with such opponents is to isolate them by building a broad coalition with the other independent powers in his realm. In New York, one of the most serious threats to his reforms came from the city’s courts, which were concerned that zero-tolerance policing would result in an enormous number of small-crimes cases clogging the court schedule. To get past the opposition of the courts, Bratton solicited the support of Rudolph Giuliani, who had considerable influence over the district attorneys, the courts, and the city jail. Bratton’s team demonstrated to the mayor that the court system had the capacity to handle minor “quality of life” crimes, even though doing so would presumably not be palatable for them.



3.      In terms of conflict management strategy, is Bratton's style high or low on assertiveness and cooperativeness?


I think Bratton had the ability to be assertive or cooperative when he needed it. He used a combination of both attending the particular case.

For unfreezing the status quo situation at the NYPD he needed to be first of all very assertive. He used several assertive tactics for achieving this change by using elements that reflect their superior power and legitimize authority in the relationship (see previous examples). For example he need to be very assertive dealing with resisters to change, but cooperative with those people that were engaged with the new vision.

Once in the moving stage, he needed to move for a more cooperative relationship basically with those people engaged to the needed changes, but remaining still assertive to those people that they resisted the changes. Similar for the refreezing stage.

In the case of the small car, Bratton had a high cooperative style; instead of fighting the decision, Bratton invited the MBTA’s general manager for a tour of the district showing the disadvantages of a small police car.

As conclusion, Bratton should vary the degree of assertiveness and cooperativeness that he had according to the stage and people to who he needed to deal with. This sensibility and malleability allowed Mr. Bratton to answer with different degree of stimulus according the specific necessity in place.



4.      Does Bratton gain commitment/compliance or resistance to change in these examples? Explain your answer.


I think both examples (the small cop car and the subway) are different. In the small car problem Bratton stop the change process more that to lead it. The change come from the MBTA and Bratton offered resistance to this change with a particular and efficient methodology.

For the subway example, Bratton found resistance to change at the beginning, but commitment later when senior staff started to see and understand the results. When Bratton wanted to introduce the change to commute the work for riding the subway to work, to meetings and at night, senior managers resisted this decision arguing that according to the statistic, only 3% of the city’s major crimes were committed in the subway; to spend resources for this small percentage it will be a waste of them. For Bratton it was clear that even though few major crimes took place in the subway, the whole place was filled with fear and disorder. Bratton tried to carry on the policy of zero tolerance and the subway was an important source of disorder and fear for citizens. With that ugly reality staring them in the face, the transit force’s senior managers could no longer deny the need for a change in their policing methods. Finally, Bratton reached the support from senior managers who spread it to their teams. Perhaps his most significant reform of the NYPD’s operating practices was instituting semiweekly strategy review meeting that brought the top brass together with the city’s 76 precinct commanders. Bratton had identified the commanders as key influential people in the NYPD, because each one directly managed 200 to 400 officers.



Works consulted


Army National Guard Information. Executive Leadership. Retrieved November 24, 2010 from http://arng.info/files/executive_leadership.ppt


Garicano, L. (2010) Policemen, managers, lawyers: New results on complementarities between organization and information and communication technology. International Journal of Industrial Organization Vol. 28. pp  355–358


Gottschalk, P. (2006) Expert systems at stage IV of the knowledge management technology stage model: The case of police investigations. Expert Systems with Applications Vol. 31. pp 617–628


Langton, N., Robbins, S. & Judge, T. (2010). Organizational Behaviour: Concepts, Controversies, Applications (Vth Canadian ed.). Toronto, Ontario: Pearson Education Canada.