NTOA Forums Strategic Leadership SWAT Command Decision-Making And Leadership II: Problem Solving, Analytical Thinking & Decision Making Take 5 minutes and write down some good and bad mental short cuts based on your past experiences.

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    • #4617
    • #6912
      mmWayne Griffin

      I believe a Commander or even an operator may take mental shortcuts when dealing with an incident or situation. A good mental short cut that a Commander or an operator may take when presented with a situation that he is familiar with is referring to a similar incident from the past. They may use those same strategies, lesson learned, and techniques to accomplish the mission or bring the incident to a peaceful resolution just relying on their experience from a previous similar incident. With that being said, a Commander or operator can bypass protocol, procedures, and warning signs of an incident that he is familiar with. This bad mental short cut could result in an end state that is not favorable. One has to stay away from bad mental shortcuts regardless if the situation is familiar to that individual, and regardless of their knowledge and experience.

    • #6973
      Anthony Kies

      Good mental shortcuts tend to drive the development of our SWAT operations due to our training and experience. This pushes toward the cognative thinking process which speeds up the our process due to the learning development and experience which we have gained over time. These shortcuts at times do disregard policies, go against the grain but have a means to a very effective end.

      The bad mental shortcuts is where I would say the assumptions come into play. This is where you haven’t taken the the time to break down the methodology in which you want to advance in and have just made a knee jerk reaction that will haunt you in the end. Yes at times there is still a successful outcome, but that type of outcome is referred to as an outcome based incident. These incidents need to be learned from as to not happen again and know that you have just put more effort into Good mental shortcuts due to a bad decision. This happens, but we need to limit this as much as possible.

    • #7721
      Jeffrey Brown

      Through training experience and education, we can develop mental shortcuts that, many times, make our thought process, planning of operations and reactions to stimuli quicker and more efficient. Battle drills, repetitive training mental rehearsals, and recognition primed decision making will cause our mind to take natural shortcuts because it generally works in our favor. If we have the time, it is proven that even though we may have mental shortcuts to get to the root of the problem we should look at alternative courses of conduct to our shortcuts. Many times the comparison of several alternatives by using divergent thinking will make the best option clear. Based on some of my experiences with mental shortcuts I have had come down to rapidly evolving situations that end with the use of force. Many times these quick reactions to stimuli result in officers successfully defeating an attack and surviving a high-risk situation. As we have all seen in the news, sometimes the mental shortcut results in a less than favorable outcome with an unreasonable use of force application.

    • #7977
      mmJacob Taylor

      In my experience bad mental shortcuts are usually based on bias or assumption. Any time I have run into problems it has been due to my lack of obtaining all the appropriate information and then assuming I had an answer to the problem I didn’t fully understand. Good mental shortcuts have almost always been based on experience and more than one person having educated input. Slowing down and assessing the problem fully instead of trying to fix it right away is generally the way to stay on track and avoid coming up short.

    • #8379
      Jon Thompson

      Negative mental shortcuts are typically those based on our own stereotypes or assumptions (“this guy is just some drunk”) but also on our lack of knowledge…although those shortcuts seem to be more easily fixed. Positive mental shortcuts can also be based on past experiences but in a broader sense, using what has worked in the past to look at current issues through a particular lens and to hopefully arrive at a solution.

    • #8391
      mmChris Eklund

      Bad mental shortcuts would consist of making assumptions based on what we see directly and immediately use a mental shortcut to lead us to a conclusion that may in and of itself be false. Positive mental shortcuts lead to decisions drawn from previous experiences that may lead to a successful conclusion drawn from a positive prior event.

    • #8629
      Thomas Carroll

      In my experience bad mental short cuts were caused by a deviation from fundamentals such as failing to confirm intelligence and relying on the assumptions of others. The good mental shortcuts were definitely influenced by both positive and negative experience.

    • #8651
      Jesse Laintz

      Take 5 minutes and write down some good and bad mental short cuts based on your past experiences.

      Mental shortcuts are processes that help operators solve problems and learn new concepts. The processes make problems less complex by ignoring some of the information that’s coming into the brain, either consciously or unconsciously.

      Some good mental shortcuts allow the operator to make a judgment on the probability of events based on past experiences, common memory links, or items with a similar appearance.

      Some bad mental shortcuts can be relying too much on the first piece of information that is offered, bias, or escalation of commitment to past experiences despite new evidence suggesting something different.

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