Frontline innovation in times of crisis

There is absolutely no doubt that the organizations on the frontlines of responding to the Corona Pandemic have been faced with immense challenges over the past year, and many still are. Mia Hartmann and I have a new paper out on what these challenges might mean for police organizations in particular, building on the work we’ve been doing on frontline innovation in police and military organizations.


Here’s the abstract:

The current COVID-19 pandemic brings about dramatic challenges for frontline police officers and their organizations. This will, we argue, likely have two implications for frontline learning and innovation. First, the pandemic will surely occasion a surge of frontline improvisation and innovation in police organizations responding to the crisis as the experienced needs for new solutions dramatically increase. Secondly, but equally importantly, this wave of frontline innovation is likely to be more transparent than is typically the case for innovations developed in frontline police work, because of changes in formal mandates and informal tolerance for procedural deviance. At this moment of unusually widespread and transparent frontline innovation, we propose an approach to capturing and diffusing this frontline innovation. By taking seriously the unique dynamics of frontline innovation, such an approach is likely to capture valuable innovations that might otherwise rapidly dissipate and be lost.


It’s focused on police organizations, but the effects and the implications may well be relevant more broadly and apply especially well in healthcare contexts, I imagine.

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