Monday, June 13, 2011

“Blue Ocean Strategy” in public sector, the New York City Police Department (NYPD).

I remember that the subway of New York was one of the most dangerous places for travelers in the early 1990s. Thanks to the strategy taken by NYPD, safety and security of the subway in New York was notably improved. Today, I would like to introduce NYPD’s Blue Ocean Strategy using Zero tolerance theory.

In February 1994, Bill Bratton took up a post as police commissioner [1]. His mission was to reduce high crime rate that had been increased for a few decades. Despite the difficulty of the mission, the budget was frozen.

He made a strategy to deal with problems. His strategy was Zero tolerance theory that would be currently widely used in the police system in the world [2]. Zero tolerance can be seen as an automatic punishment to eliminate undesired conducts [3]. For example, in case that a window in the school was broken and there was no countermeasure, other windows would be broken in sequence. By contrast, if the broken window repaired as soon as possible and the person in charge punished severely, other windows would not be broken.

Based on his strategy, NYPD started to arrest all criminal regardless the significance of the crime. They erased all scribbles in the public space of the subway and arrested all criminals who made scribbles and fare cheatings. The arrested criminals in handcuffs were linked together in front of the entrance gate. This strategy had a positive impact on the reduction of the crime rate. Not only light crime, but also index crimes, such as murders and burglaries were drastically decreased. Zero tolerance toward crimes became crime deterrent power.

According to the case study report on the website [1], “the Felony crime fell 39 percent, murders 50 percent, and theft 35 percent.” And the value of the public trust on the NYPD increased from 37% to 73%.

I believe that there were several features that matched with the idea proposed in the textbook [4]. First of all, Bill did not emphasize on crime-arrest ratio as a benchmark in the beginning. In my opinion, he made the competition using crime rate indexes irrelevant by the pile of small efforts. Second of all, the budget stayed the same level through the period that NYPD had significantly reduced crime ratio. Thus, this example clearly fortified the idea that the blue ocean strategy could be applied to existing organizations including public sectors.





[4]Harvard Business Review, Blue Ocean Strategy, Chen Kim and Renee Mauborgne, October 2004, p6

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