Professional Organisational Change at the Ghana Police Service

The Ghana Police Service is in trouble. Over the last few last few decades each new Police organisation and government has tried in various ways to carry out some change but most changes have been ad-hoc, temporary, not robust enough or strategic. The old problems return to haunt new administrations and many police officers and the Public have lost hope.

In order to create any lasting and permanent change, a transformation is required. A departure from the old to a new modern and professional way to provide protective services to the public and uphold the law. For a permanent change to happen it requires 3 things.

  1. A clear vision, goal, metrics underpinned by a servant leadership style that empowers people to believe in the power of possibilities.
  2. A structured and strategic approach supported by a high performance framework to deliver results quickly.
  3. A transformation network made up of change agents who are trained and empowered to promote the transformation nationally.

As it stands, public confidence has been eroded to record levels. New management plans to change that, and not by nibbling around the edges. The new Inspector General of Police (IGP) is leading the charge to transform the service into a world class police service with radical, and much needed change.

Only when an organisation has completely and utterly failed to deliver will it contemplate radical change.

-Ken Schwaber

I have been working with Akaditi and Nana Abban on the Ghana Police Service’s organisational transformation, one of the first in the world, and I have never seen a clearer vision, nor a more empirical approach. The key to any transformation at the organisational level is leadership and vision. Even more so in a public sector organisation. The Ghana Police Service already have top down buy-in for the transformation, which is rare in any organisation. And when I say top down, you need to understand that not just the IGP, but his boss, the President of Ghana, are all bought in for change.


The Ghana Police Service seeks to become a world class Police Service capable of delivering planned, democratic, protective, and peaceful services up to the standards of international best practice


The mission of the Police Service is to ensure crime prevention and detection, apprehension and prosecution of offenders, consistent with the expectations of Ghanaians for safe, secure and peaceful communities.

The question has always been, how do you adopt Scrum & Organisational Transformation in an empirical manner rather than a defined and traditional one. Oh the arguments that Steven Borg and I have had. A few years ago quietly released the Agility Path Guide as a way to do just that. It has been slowly gaining traction as more folks have had success.

I should not need to tell you that in order to effect lasting change in an organisation you need a framework and not a methodology. Since every organisation has its own way of doing things (unique people, processes, & practices) that reflect in a unique culture, why would someone else’s blueprint work for you. You need a framework (much like constructing anything physical) around which you can build your custom methodology. The Agility Path Guide introduces a framework, based on Scrum, to effect Professional Organisational Change. This framework can be used to productively and creatively deliver organisational change of the highest possible value.

We need the framework, and not a methodology, because every team, group, and department within an organisation is different. Accepting that difference, this framework helps us make sure that we are all at least playing the same game from the start. If everything is open to change we can easily end up in chaos or stagnation. Just like Scrum the Professional Organisational Change framework is closed for modification, but open to extension.

One such awesome extension that I have seen used to great effect in both software and non-software endeavours is the Kanban board. It provides both transparency and at-a-glance status to what is going on. While this is the board from the Organisational Transformation office the Inspector General of Police has both a Kanban and a Scrum board in his ‘war room’ which is what his change team and visitors gather around to discuss strategy and what comes next. While we maintain the core framework to enshrine empiricism in our process many parts of the organisation will extend that framework in creating and unique ways to help them solve their independent individuals problems.

As you can imagine the Ghana Police Service is very hierarchical and relies heavily on rank to get things done. It has not had significant change in nearly 60 years, and they are still following the old ways. Command and control is the way things are done, and it is no longer working. The education level of officers has changed a lot in 60 years. By way of example the two Professional Scrum Foundations classes I ran for them this week had more MBA’s, psychology, and other degrees than the same class in Europe or the US. There has been a big push, some say too much, on academic credentials, but it means that the workforce has changed. Command and control, that was designed for an uneducated work force will no longer be effective, and indeed works to erode moral. Command and control is a fallacy in the modern world and an enigma born of Taylorism and ignorance from a lost time.

Hell, the military realised that command and control was a losing strategy when Napoleon defeated the Persian army 300 years ago. The Ghana Police Service is certainly not the last to realise it as many European and US companies still try to use Command and Control in this way.

In any Agile organisation management changes from a ‘telling people what to do’ role, to one of servant leadership. They change from giving instructions to setting goals. They stop being a planner and become a teacher, coach, and leader.

Leadership has very little to do with giving instructions and barking commands.

  • Isabella Nyamah

    I am deeply impressed and i think many more people should have an opportunity to know about the transformational steps taken.
    Many more will come to appreciate the leadership style and dynamism and the

    • Organisational Change is a struggle and often frustrating experience. This is the very start of the process, and it will take time to see the fruits. I am confident that with focus, and commitment… And a lot of patience… Amazing things are going to happen…

  • Emmanuel

    I am really impressed and can’t agree with you more on some few observations you have captured about the dealings of Ghana Police Service. The colonial structure which in my estimation was put in place as a way to keep the black man at bay is the very same structure which over the years GPS has carried on. All because it served the interest of all the successful leadership. What even struck me the more was the bit about on command and control. I will suggest also that this transformation agenda to be a success stakeholders especially personal should be given the opportunity to make input in the whole policy. Again the very people who formulated the policy should not be made to implement it to give a proper meaning which in effect will bring the kind of change we all desire.

    • I am currently writing a post on the class that we ran, the Professional Scrum Foundations. One of the final, and most important exercises has the students create items to be used on the Organisational Change backlog. This is key as while leadership has their backlog, the folks that are doing the work on the ground know what the key issues are that will prevent change.

      I invited all the students to submit more items to that backlog at any time.

    • Nana Abban

      Emmanuel, If you look at old Ghana Empire from the 7th – 13th Century you will see that it covered a territory that was almost all of West Africa. This empire and many other African Empires could not run without a para military force or some type of order.

      The concept of modern day professional Policing starting with Robert Peel in England was to protect the rich and their property and later became an institution to protect the wider society from criminals. So Policing was originally paid for by the rich before the State took over. Of course it was the selfish interest of the rich that later gave us our modern day British Police. Police world wide is a para-military organisation therefore it has a command and control culture similar to that of the Military. It is based on a rank system to enforce a level of discipline across all levels of the hierarchy.

      The concept of Policing is not new to Africa and many parts of the World so even before the colonialist came, Africans already had a system dating back to over 6000 years in Ancient Kemet now called Egypt.

      I guess with colonialism came 1. Economic exploitation through brute force and 2. A structure to perpetuate the exploitation. The Police was one of those structures. Nobody can justify colonialism and apartheid apart from those who started it. The process of changing our institutions has been slow and of course it has served the interest of the ruling elite for many decades however there is a change or better still a transformation happening in many places if we look for it. Good things are happening even though people might be sceptical or lost hope.

      Occasionally in history we are fortunate or perhaps lucky to have inspired leaders who see the problem and want to offer solutions (fortunately the current IGP is one such leader). The transformation of the Ghana Police Service is long overdue. It is bottom up and top down with support from the junior ranks to senior officers, at all levels the various ranks are involved in the designing, developing and executing the various strategy and plans to transform the organisation.

      Ghana Police Service wants to be the best in Africa and one of the top ten in the world within 4 years and I think we should all encourage and support the effort of the Inspector General of Police who is both a gentleman and a Servant Leader.

      Let’s give it a go and see how we can all support this opportunity for deep meaningful and sustainable change that will become a showcase not only for Africa but for the rest of the World too.

      Thank you.


  • Yogeshwar Rao V

    Martin, The post was really impressive. Was real eye-opener for me on how Agile practices can be implemented across varied industries.

    Thank You!

  • Daniel Monney

    Martin just read this article again. Great article. I sending it to the Business & Financial Times paper in Ghana to be published next week.

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