After the Webinar: Organizational Culture – What it is, How to Identify it, and How to Change it. Q&A with Obed Magny

Webinar presenter Dr. Obed Magny answered a number of your questions after his presentation, A Deeper Dive into Organizational Culture: What it Is, How to Identify It, and How to Change It for the Better. Here are just a few of his responses.


Audience Question: What advice do you have when the chief of police is unwilling to work with their local juvenile probation department due to juvenile reforms? There is zero collaboration between juvenile probation and the police department. Often, the chief will call out probation officers for not doing their job, and at times undermines the policies and procedures of juvenile probation, it has been very extremely difficult to build a relationship with the chief. What do we do? 

Obed Magny: OK, so I’m going to answer this this way. Miranda, make sure you send me an e-mail, reach out to me, because I will do, you know, just is giving you a short answer, because I know we’ve got other people with different questions too. First and foremost, that’s actually very, very common. Unfortunately, you cannot be a prophet in your own organization. The good news about that is, you’re probably not the only one thinking about that. If you remember a few slides back, and I’d mentioned it more than once, one of the things you can do is collaborate. So, you across your peers, and then you with the other stakeholders. So, if we know that this chief is not supportive, and you know he’s a tyrant, we’ll just say that much, right? Instead of going after him or her, it sounds like him, straight ahead.

You, one of your peer stakeholders, from whether it’s the courts or whoever, all of you guys getting together, and ask yourself, “Okay, what are our options? What can we do? Is there anything that we can do legally? Through our unions, that’s one avenue? Is there another option where, do we just have to quit and go work somewhere else? Because the way the system is set up, we can’t do anything internally here. Or three, and this really more than three. But, you know, you’ve got to look at all of your options and find out what’s the best for you. That unfortunately doesn’t have a simple answer, but I can tell you, one of the reasons why the American Society of Evidence Based Policing exists is because, people like you, Miranda, people who like me, said, “Enough of this. We’re going to go out and create something that’s going to have not just influence over that one organization, but have influence over the United States,” because we knew in our organizations and I know it’s not just you, other organizations are going through the same thing you’re going through. So, there’s an opportunity right there to create an American Society of Probation Officers. I mean, I just made that up, but feel free to steal that. It’s all yours, It’s like, you know, no trademark infringements. But, you know, you can have other people know, join an organization that might be done with the same thing. And do something for the greater good. I know, it’s probably not the answer you’re looking for, but that’s a heavy conversation that we would have to have over the phone.


Audience Question: Your recommendations require top-down agents, advocacy buy-in leading the change in order to effect change. But do you have any recommendations for those of us who are at lower levels? How do we affect change when we don’t have that top-down buy in? 

Obed Magny: So, two things: I mentioned some of the things that you can do. Leading by examples, collaborating across the board with different stakeholders, across different planes and so on. Understand something, if you look at the landscape of policing today, I won’t even just say policing. I’m just talking across all industries in the United States. The generation of today is not the generation of yesterday. The generation of yesterday, “I’m going to come in and do my 30 years, get my pension, I’m going to retire when I moved to Montana or, wherever, and I’m going to live on a ranch happily ever after.” Those days are over. Those days are not coming back And when you see today is young people, especially today, they’re saying, “You know what? If I’m not being valued here, I’m not staying. I have options. I can go somewhere else.” Right now, it’s a buyer’s market. If you want to equate it to the housing market. If you’re the line employee, it is your market today. Do you understand what I’m saying? Agencies literally, and I’m talking, again, not just on policing, they literally cannot afford to lose a single body. So, the answer to you, when you ask that question is ask yourself: Do you have options – number one? And I don’t assume that everybody has the same lifestyle. You may be married; you might have kids. You might be more risk averse than the next person. Somebody like me, I’m not married, I have no kids. So, I can just say, “I’m out of here, bye.” Somebody else may not have that luxury, or they may not have that option. So, then what is the next best thing? Understand people, there is no cookie cutter just do this, and then you’re going to get that result. This is not a linear thing. There are tons of peaks and valleys. So, if you’re a land employee, you want to make change in your organization, start doing the things that I put in this presentation. Now, if you start running into a brick wall, now, you got to start saying, “Okay, what is my exit strategy? Do I have a side business? Do I want to start being a consultant in a particular area of interest of mine, and then build that business to the point where I can quit my day job.” Which is what I did, and so, I’m going to tell you right now, there were a lot of valleys, more valleys than peaks for me to get to where I’m at right now, okay? But that, again, that’s a different story for another day. So, the strategies that I put into this presentation, implement them. If those are not working, and oftentimes, let me tell you right now, it’s not, you’re not going to see the results right away. You just got to be patient, and you got to stick with it. But also, re-evaluating. What are your options? I’m just saying that today’s generation, they do this unconsciously. They come in, “Oh, the culture has sucks. Bye.” Then this is where you start to see the issues, where management’s like, “What do you mean bye? You can’t just leave,” “Of course, I can, I can go start a YouTube, my own channel, my own Tiktok, and I can get paid that way.” Twitter or X right now is even monetizing Tweets. So, people have options, and management is struggling with that right now. So hopefully that, hopefully, that gives you some comfort, but it’s a lot more complex than just, you do 1 or 2 things, you do a couple of things. But it, it takes time.


Audience Question: Organizational culture can be influenced and impacted by a variety of things but one of the most potentially biggest ones is the generational difference. How do you address challenges with leaders who might be “old school” but who have significantly younger workforce employees? How do you help the two sides come together? 

Obed Magny: Oh, that’s fairly easy. You get together in the room and you have conversations. You get to know each other. You get to know the pros and cons and when you say pros and cons, you get to learn from each other, right? We know that the younger generation has a lot to learn from the institutional knowledge that is walking out the door day in and day out. You just, the institutional knowledge is gone forever, and they need to understand nuances. They need to understand there’s different ways of doing things. You don’t have to go in this direction, make life easier for you by going in that direction because of, those things and then vice versa. You’ve got the older generation, the old school guys and gals, who might not know that there’s technology out there, there’s ways to engage with the community, use the social media that will help with trust and legitimacy that is being underutilized. So, it’s that understanding that this is a win-win. Not a, “Hey, I’m getting over on you.” When you get to that space, now it becomes a force multiplier. It shocks me, when I hear and when I see organizations that are looking for help, and I’m like, “So what is your social media looking like? Let me take a look at it. And the last time you tweeted was 2015. Did your organization get absorbed into space, like what happened in 2015?” So, you know, it’s those types of conversations that, you got to be, and I’m not just saying this just be at the same table. I mean, literally, if you’re the older guy, make it a point to be proactive to hang out with one of those younger people. “Hey, you know what? Let me hang out with you for a day or hang out for a few hours.” I don’t know what’s going on. What’s the next? I don’t even know what… I’m going to tell you right now, I’m a Gen Xer I don’t even know what PlayStation we’re on right now. I don’t know if it’s PlayStation 3 PlayStation 20. I just learned what Twitch was this year. So that just tells you, I make it a point to practically say, “Hey, y’all, I know I’m the old man in the world. What are we doing in these days, in 2023, 2024 that I don’t know about?” And when I learned these things. I’m just constantly amazed, and I make it a point to stay relevant with what’s going on, and it has to go both ways.


Audience Question: But what are we supposed to do when the organization or leader says, “We value truth,” or, “We value trust,” or, “We value respect,” but their actions, don’t match their words? What do we do? 

Obed Magny: Lead by example, lead by example, lead by example. This webinar was… Let me say this right now. The reason why I put in there lack of courage, it’s because we have people who lack courage, to speak up and call this stuff out. I’m going to tell you right now. I got receipts, I have gone to war with several leaders in several organizations who, literally, just put that on a piece of paper, and decide the worth of the piece of paper it’s written on because they just kind of say, “Well, we have a mission statement,” because like what good is a mission statement if everything you do is not consistent with that mission statement. So, unfortunately, you’re just seeing the results… you’re seeing some of what that looks like today.

Consent decrees. Misconduct with officers, so on and so forth. You see an investigation to take place where things have been going on for years and we’re just now discovering it. Listen, everybody knows what’s going on behind closed doors. We have cell phone cameras. We have all of this technology. It’s not like yesterday where we didn’t have social media or anything like that. You blink in the continent of Africa, everybody knows about it in the United States, in like two seconds. It’s a different world, So if they’re not demonstrating that behavior, it doesn’t hurt to pull whoever, the chief, whoever is in charge pump to the side, “Can I take out for coffee,” and have a conversation, “Hey look, you know, I love working here. I enjoy doing… but, you know, one of the things I’m seeing, if you’re not aware…” You’d be surprised, some of these leaders literally have no clue what’s going on and by you helping them out by saying, “Hey, this is what I’m saying, I don’t know if you’re aware of this, but this is how it affects me, affects everybody else.” That’s the little ball that turns the snowball that turns to the avalanche of change in that organization. And let me just like this one thing, because I know a couple of questions back. And I know that there’s a theme with a lot of these questions. This is why, ladies and gentlemen, I always emphasize hiring in a coach or hiring a trusted advisor. It is so important, especially if you’re looking to make that change in your organization. You’ve got to find somebody. And again, I am speaking for myself. This is, you know, some of the services that provide. But we’re talking about organizational cultural change, changing your organization,  change for you in doing something, greater than what you think you could. This is the importance of this, is what CEOs do 24/7. Mid-level managers in Fortune 500 companies. Companies that are successful. This is in their DNA. Police, like I said, law enforcement, we’re just late to the party. If we even show up at all, and that’s why others are better at these things than other people. So, like I said, PLA, 54th Mile Policing Project, ACDC. Those were all grass roots driven, created because, we said, “We’re not going to wait for it, for the chief to do something, we’re going to do something on our own.” And look at where we are today. And I’m unfortunate enough to say that I’ve helped spearhead, many of these initiatives. I could talk about this for years.


Click Here to Watch a Recording of A Deeper Dive into Organizational Culture: What it Is, How to Identify It, and How to Change It for the Better. 


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