The FBI has sent more than 2,000 of its top agents and suieprvisors to Northwestern University’s business and management school near Chicago, says the Los Angeles Times. The bureau is looking for ways to manage the transition to terrorism prevention that was thrust on it after Sept. 11, 2001. At Northwestern, they explore how large corporations have shifted their missions. If Toyota can adapt its car lines to the baby-boom generation, why can’t the FBI adapt its role to the changing security needs of the country?
Attendees practice role-playing exercises aimed at instilling teamwork, but about half fail to get the point of one exercise because they missed a subtlety in the instructions. “The competitive mentality is hard to break,” Professor Leigh Thompson said. The program was started three years ago by FBI Director Robert Mueller III. Most senior headquarters staffers and top agents from the 56 field offices have taken the weeklong courses, which cost the bureau about $3 million a year. The training has been one of Mueller’s main efforts to bring fresh thinking into the bureau, though some FBI officials at first found the idea puzzling. “The initial response was, ‘We are going to go where?’ ” recalls Kevin Brock, a counter-terrorism official who attended the program. “A lot of us did not know what we were getting into. So we were wondering, ‘How does this connect with putting bad guys in jail, hunting terrorists and all that stuff?’ ” The Times says there are questions about how much the FBI has really embraced the lessons.