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Case Report
“Security Planning for the 2004 DNC (A)”

12/22/2013
Stephen Ferrick
MSFM-Organizational Behavior
-------------------------------------------------

Case Summary:

In November of 2002 the City of Boston was awarded the upcoming 2004 Democratic National Convention. Because the DNC was to be the first “major” political event in the US since the terrorist attacks of 9/11 outside help was sought to insure the overall security of the event and its attendees. The Department of Homeland Security was asked to designate the 2004 DNC a “National Special Security Event” NSSE. The request was honored. With this designation in place the US Secret Service was called upon to devise and implement a comprehensive security plan. Secret Service Special Agent Scott Sheafe was chosen to take the lead in the role of “Coordinator of Security Arrangements for the Democratic National Convention”. In order to be successful at protecting the attendees of the upcoming DNC, agent Sheafe would ultimately need to rely on the cooperation of over 30 local, state and federal agencies. This was no small task but as a member of the Secret Service Agent Sheafe was singularly qualified for the task at hand. Due to his time spent on the “Presidential Protection Detail” Agent Scott Sheafe was familiar with the necessity of relying on multiple agencies from different governmental levels to ensure the safety of the president and the environments involved in his activities. Agent Sheafe’s experience led him to use inclusion, cooperation and “appeals to common goals” to gain the confidence of participating agencies and to foster a positive organizational environment. When disagreements between different agencies and individuals did arise the “functional conflict” was used as a mechanism by which all parties were able to come to terms with what was truly best for the collective goal of ensuring the safety of both the Fleet Center and attendees for the 2004’ DNC. Agent Sheaf relied heavily on the different agencies in navigating the unique political and organizational landscape of the City of Boston. By using the collective knowledge base of all the resources at his disposal he was able to make informed recommendations and finalize decisions through consensus while instilling a genuine feeling of inclusion for all persons involved. Organizational Dynamics: (Positive or Negative affects)

From the start of his appointment as “Coordinator” of Security Arrangements for the upcoming 2004 DNC Agent Sheafe understood that ultimate success would be dependent upon many agencies having a “common goal.” To accomplish this He would need to rely on the Secret Services’ “core strategy” of “forming partnerships” with other law enforcement, security and public safety agencies. In order to use this strategy it was important that he create an atmosphere of “inclusion” and “cooperation”. By accomplishing this he would encourage the over 30 different agencies to work together towards a common goal. The first thing Agent Sheafe did was to create partnerships by introducing himself to key officials of the various agencies whose cooperation was needed for the success of his mission. Next a “Steering Committee” was created comprised of the heads (decision makers) of the agencies that would have a roll in the security plan. Also created were 17 “Sub-Committees” that would be co-chaired by one member of each the Secret Service and of the BPD. The “Sub-Committees” functioned as “cross-functional teams” where the members from different agencies would discuss issues of the safety plan and devise possible solutions. The steering committee was used to validate the ideas and solutions brought forth by the sub-committees. This structure was experienced as empowering and inclusive by the sub-committee members.
By following proven methods used by the US Secret Service agent Sheafe was able to create an organizational dynamic that thrived on lateral communication and cooperation between agencies. Because of this, different opinions and concerns could be voiced and discussed and the merits of each weighed out. People truly felt listened to even if their position was in turn decided against. Ultimately Agent Sheafe was able to take different entities with potentially competing interests and different priorities and marshal their collective resources to accomplish one common goal. Role Perception and Attribution:

From the outset Agent Sheafe recognized that the overall success of organizing and implementing a security plan of this scope would be impacted significantly by the “first impression” he made on those he would be leading. He understood the potential effects (negative and positive) of “Perception and Attribution”.
Because people’s perceptions and attributions influence how they behave in an organization it was vital that he communicate his intention to lead through cooperation and consensus. He also needed to demonstrate his desire to lean heavily on their collective knowledge and abilities in their respective roles. Agent Sheafes' goal was to soften his entrance into the “tight knit” Community of Boston and not step on toes. An example of this was Agent Sheafes’ commitment to Steven Ricciardi then “Special Agent in Charge” of the Secret Service field office in Boston that “I was not going to embarrass him in his district. I’m going to make sure when I leave here that the wonderful relationship that the Boston field office has with the law enforcement community, both local and state and the relationship (it has) with (its) federal partners isn’t going to be the same-it’s going to be better.” Because of this verbalization of intent Agent Ricciardi was able to filter, organize and interpret this information, understand his role and respond in an organizationally positive way. Because Agent Sheafe went to great lengths to give the “initial impression” of his intent to work together through good communication and cooperation the effects of perception and attribution were positive. Individuals were able to react to the situation in a way that allowed the successful planning and implementation of a comprehensive safety plan. Management Systems and Culture:

Like most cities Boston’s organizational management system and culture will function in line with the “Governmental Politics Model”. This is described as: * Loosely aligned organizations * Organizational culture and procedure * Incrementalism.
This model can and does work on a day to day basis. Daily duties and functions are carried out routinely by the separate departments of the city. Although there may be conflicts between departments and or individuals the “common goal” of the cities’ operation is accomplished. This Model however does not always work as was demonstrated by the Chicago Heat Wave of 1995. Unfortunately for the citizens of Chicago that were affected this model of management failed to correctly plan for, react to and resolve the problems and issues that would arise due to an excessive heat event. Obviously this model does not always operate efficiently in times of crisis or in an atmosphere of heightened urgency. One reason for this is that efficient and precise communication between groups isn’t always possible due to the loose or disjointed structure between agencies. Another is that different departments may have decidedly different cultures or shared beliefs and values that are not consistent with each other. This makes finding common ground nearly impossible. Because of these obstacles as well as many others Agent Sheafe needed to change or tweak Boston’s organizational management system and culture for his mandate to be successful. Agent Sheafe needed to take the existing city and state organization and make it work for the goal of protecting the DNC. He accomplished this through open communication, being respectful of and to the different departments and their chiefs and most importantly using their knowledge of their respective duties and plans to date as a starting point for the overall safety plan. What Agent Sheafe did was create a “rule of agreement”. In short he created an environment or culture where agreement was the rule. This doesn’t mean that people just agreed blindly. It means that agreement was the goal. This sets the table so to speak for positive and productive discussions. When agreement is the cultural expectation common ground between different parties will be easier to find resulting in solutions instead if disagreements. Another change to the management system and culture was in the use of the steering and sub-committees. This type of management structure allowed for relationships between departments to form, lines of communication between departments to be opened. This all created an opportunity for the different groups to see the city organization as “we” instead of “us and them”.

Conclusion:

Unlike the organizational missteps in Florida’s handling of Hurricane Floyd and Chicago’s lack of preparedness for the 1995 heat wave the planning of the 2004 DNC in Boston was a relative success. There were many factors responsible for this however, none were more important than the emphasis that was put on communication, cooperation and appeals to common goals. Agent Sheafe was able to lead different groups of people he had never met in a city he was not familiar with effectively as a result of his successful implementation of the US Secret Service core strategy of “forming partnerships”. That is an important lesson to be learned by any person in a position of management in any organization. Although this was played out on a large governmental level it is important to realize that the strategies and techniques Agent Sheafe employed can be used to the same effect on a smaller scale in organizations of all types and sizes.

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