NEEDED:  Technology Innovation for Leadership Training

I personally interviewed numerous officials across the US (over 70 interviews with personnel in FEMA, local law enforcement, fire and rescue, and corporate security…just to name a few).  All those discussions pointed back to one growing awareness by leaders within our communities.

Current training methods DO NOT work for preparing our leaders for the immediate decision-making process that coincides with a multi-agency crisis response.  There will be an increasing demand signal by leaders at various levels that require a new training approach. 

Increasing Violence and Leader Preparedness:  There is no doubt that active shooter incidents are on the rise.  Whether they occur in the school (20% of the time) or the workplace (40%), the increasing effectiveness of deranged killers in creating chaos, sowing fear, and causing an alarming number of victims is demoralizing our communities.  The graph shows that there is a significant upward trend in both the number of annual events, as well as the number of victims created.  The number of violent incidents at schools and workplaces is on the rise:  violent incidents in schools increased by 113% in 2018 (279 incidents in the 2017-2018 school year compared to 131 the previous year).


Information obtained through the FBI indicates that 2019 was an even worse year in comparison to 2018:  34 more people were injured, more shooters wore body armor, more officers were wounded, and in an alarming shift…more shooters surrendered (indicating a shift in motivations and tactics that many leaders are not prepared for).  However, there has been little measurable shift in leadership training methodologies to address the changing environment.  CRLT refers to this paradigm as the “Adaptation Flatline.” 


Current methods for training our First Responders, especially our leaders, do NOT work!  Additionally, the training management/tracking system used by most organizations is inefficient, confusing, and not tied to the critical training requirements that First Responders are expected to execute.


When most organizations train for a crisis, they conduct individual and team drills while the leaders are resourcing and supervising the training event (the leaders are usually not actually performing their required tasks). 


Old School Approaches:  Most leadership training focuses on either a boring seminar approach (where the learning curve is low), or the department focuses a lot of time, effort, and money on a high-end training exercise (that can only be conducted infrequently).  The Learning Curve is now too steep to make the effort seem worth the significant amount of time put into it.  When these traditional training methods are applied, First Responders and their leaders often miss out on significant training lessons learned, become frustrated with their learning curve, and waste significant money.  They are also much less prepared for the negative impacts on a community that occur from a crisis.

Training Management Issues:  The top four issues surrounding training management are:

  • The disconnect between Individual and Team Skills to Leader Skills for a coordinated response.
  • The training focus is on internal department requirements and NOT on multiple agency responses; the approach is NOT holistic.
  • The training modules are often boring and do not use a Complex Adaptive System to maximize learning.
  • Major training events are costly and significant lessons learned are often not realized.

We must prepare our leaders to handle real-world crisis.  Why isn’t there an intermediary training methodology that focuses on leadership skills and requirements for responding to a crisis?  Why is there no affordable simulation that allows our leaders to train all year long on these incidents, so that when large-scale training events occur, they are better prepared and get more out of their involvement?

Current Approaches:  Most vendor offerings that use innovative technology predominantly focus on individual and team skills:  operator/driver training and certification, tactics, and team battle drills, or individual judgement-based scenarios.  Current vendor offerings for leaders are still predominantly focused on boring seminars or massive culmination events with skyrocketing costs!  Some solutions only focus on real-time tactical decision-making requirements (which is usually the lowest level of leadership training).  They will use Virtual Reality hardware and a simulation that focuses on a small team’s response to an incident.  That type of training requires a significant allocation of money and resources for the warehouse training site, the computer hardware, the consultant fees, and any associated travel costs.

Other solutions only focus on web-based platforms that offer numerous webinars…extremely boring webinars…that do not focus on the friction points, stressors of real-world cases, and demonstrate a lower rate of knowledge retention.

Higher-end consultants offer the best quality within a realistic training environment imaginable.  The problem is that no one can afford to do it with enough frequency to make an impact.  If communities or cities conduct such training events, the likelihood of leaders not being prepared to take full advantage of this opportunity is high.  (Note:  I passionately believe that hands-on experience is the best training you can get, but it is obvious that there are too many demands on our personnel…too many scheduling conflicts…and too much cost associated with that approach to make it a viable solution 100% of the time.

The Solution:  What is needed is an engaging and unique simulation that automates the standard map-oriented, turn-based mechanics of wargames while providing statistical relevance for the participants.  This type of training tool would help reinforce the basics of doctrine while also providing enough variation in outcomes to force participants to discuss adaptations to their planning.  Tie this technology to training and simulation, along with a learning management system, and you have a leader tool that augments their standard certifications and helps hone their leadership skills prior to a major training exercise, or a real-world incident.  THAT would be game-changing!

CRLT intends to lead the way in revolutionizing leadership training.  To find out more about what we are producing continue to our products and services page or visit us on Facebook



By Tod Langley
Apr 21, 2021


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