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Bratton and Tumin on how collaborating across boundaries changes the game

Collaborate or Perish!: Reaching Across Boundaries in a Networked World
Collaborate or Perish!: Reaching Across Boundaries in a Networked World
By William Bratton and Zachary Tumin

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William Bratton led police departments in New York and Boston, where he's still known as "Commissioner." In Los Angeles, where he was top cop from 2002-2009, he’ll always be "The Chief." No matter the moniker, Bratton is largely thought of as a charismatic, tough-on-crime law enforcement leader, credited with reducing crime, improving safety and bringing people together.

Now, Bratton has joined forces with Harvard researcher Zachary Tumin to lay out a streetwise playbook on how to share information and collaborate across different groups in today’s highly networked world. In "Collaborate or Perish!," Bratton and Tumin offer up their own professional experiences by way of demonstrating how teamwork is not only central to success, it’s imperative. They argue that governments and organizations that fail to collaborate and engage citizens, customers and suppliers, are doomed to perish.

The book presents a collection of stories that are analyzed with an eight-step model Tumin developed for successful collaboration. It involves essentials such as having a feasible vision, and talking with the right people to achieve it. Bratton said the model fits perfectly with his Los Angeles successes as Chief of Police.

"I'd like to think that my time in L.A., for me, was my most significant professional accomplishment in over 40 years of policing," he said. In "a department that was fighting with everybody, successful collaboration ... was key."

Bratton took an idea he learned from his time in New York as Commissioner of Police to L.A. in the early 2000s: working on the little issues. In Manhattan, there was an outbreak of "Squeegee pests," or the people who offer to clean your windshield when you're stopped at a traffic light. Though public sector police paid no attention because the extortionists seemed like a minor nuisance, Bratton ordered to get rid of the problem.

"It showed the public that police were responding to things that were of concern to them. The whole concept of community policing, of collaboration, was partnership," he said. "We were focusing on murders and rapes and robberies, but that afflicted a very small part of the overall population. But 8 million New Yorkers every day were affected by the conditions they saw in their neighborhoods – graffiti, prostitution, drug dealing. Same thing in LA in 2002."

The book shows that collaboration is also about focusing more on inclusion. According to Bratton, policing used to be a very exclusive business.

"'Leave it to the police, we'll solve all your problems,'" Bratton said. "Well, for 40 years in L.A., by leaving it to the police, it didn't solve too many problems, and in fact caused many more."

Bratton said that in his seven years in L.A., collaborating with different groups of people – city council, the public – improved quality of life. "At the end of the day, everybody could stand on the stage and take a bow, because collectively we had made the city a safer place," Bratton said.

So, what can we learn from this cop/researcher team? Can Bratton and Tumin’s field-tested counsel bring divided politicians together in order to get more done? What can managers and employees do to get along better? Is collaboration always better than going it alone? Bratton and Tumin collaborate with Larry in-studio and take your questions and calls.


William Bratton, co-author, "Collaborate or Perish!: Reaching Across Boundaries in a Networked World" (Random House/Crown Business); Chairman of Kroll, a risk consulting company; former Chief of the Los Angeles Police Department (2002–2009); former Boston Police Commissioner and New York City Police Commissioner

Zachary Tumin, co-author, "Collaborate or Perish!: Reaching Across Boundaries in a Networked World" (Random House/Crown Business); Special Assistant to the Director and Faculty Chair of Harvard Kennedy School’s Belfer Center Science, Technology, and Public Policy Program

Bratton and Tumin will discuss their book with KPCC’s Patt Morrison at Barnes & Noble at The Grove, tomorrow, Tuesday, January 24 @ 7pm. For more info, click here.