Renovation and Renewal

Renovation and Renewal

Andy Singh

Renovation and Renewal - Revisiting the Blade Runner

The more I explore leadership, the more I come to the conclusion it is about identity.

Early this year, I revisited the 1982 movie Blade Runner, which deals with many themes, including identity. There was a deliberate purpose to re-watching the movie, as it was set in late 2019. Almost 37 years ago, I watched the movie for the first time from a car in Canberra’s Starlight Drive-in.

In 1982, by casting forward the movie glimpsed a future world. There was fun to be had in re-watching the movie in 2019 and holding it's imagined future to account. There is a lot the movie got right. The society is a fusion of Anglo and Asian cultures, but the movie predicted the Japanese as the strongest Asian influence. They obviously didn’t see the Chinese coming. The characters in the movie use a distinctly different street language with each other. Our language has also changed, more so due to our dependence on mobile digital communications than to miscegenation. In our present 2019, the dark spectre of technology lays not in replicant robots, but in the manipulation and surveillance through big data in advertising, news and elections. There are also some big misses, our cars don’t fly, and there are no mobile phones.

Back to identity. Within the movie, there is a dystopian struggle for what constitutes humanity. Blade Runner challenges the notion we are prisoners to our origins. It explores the capacity to learn, reshape and improve who we are. The movie questions the proposition we are, or ever should be, defined by a single unitary identity.

For most of the movie, Blade Runner balances between the unifying and divisive nature of identity. Typical of a dark sci-fi story, the divisive sides are in the ascendency. There is power to be created and wielded in narrowing the definition of identity. There is power in the call to defend people 'like us'. Time and again we see the call go out to the blade runners, hunt down the others, and 'retire' Roy. Looking at tonight’s 7pm news, maybe 37 years ago, Philip Dick and Ridley Scott really nailed the future.

Predicting the future is difficult. AIPM Future Directions aspirationally builds a framework for developing future police leaders. CEOs in public safety agencies are increasingly lamenting the lack of diversity within their senior executive teams. Diversity in thought, gender and approach. No longer is there a single point of truth for leadership, no carbon copy recipe for success, but a desire for a mosaic of leadership in which each leader brings different lights to the kaleidoscope of collective capability.

The challenge for the AIPM is not trying to predict one version of the future, of developing one type of leader, through one type of program, but how a diversity of developmental approaches supports a mosaic of leaders, and in doing so, holding the vision and building the reality for a broader identity of leadership.

Regards, Andy Singh