Over the weekend, I happened on a particular post in my Twitter feed that actually irritated me enough that I’m still thinking about it this morning as I write this email. The scene was somewhere in an urban, 3rd-world setting where a family with three small children were filmed lying in the street. The children were half naked, malnourished, and, basically, it was a pretty unpleasant thing to see. In fact, I don’t have to go very far from where I live here in Cape Town to see some similar things. It happens in more places than we’d like to believe.
And, while this is indeed a sad picture, and not something that any rational human would wish on another, it wasn’t the video…it was the caption, which announced, without much other context or commentary:
Billionaires shouldn’t exist!
…including some extra emoji between the words, just to make their point more clear.
Of course, the implication is that the first world rapes the 3rd world, and the corporations do it driven by a relentless focus on profit, and the owners of those corporations, many of whom are worth billions, are the sole cause of the world’s ills, because, after all, they’re the ones that own the companies. Therefore, if we get rid of the billionaires, the problems of the world will miraculously evaporate too.
While I do have some pretty strong thoughts on the matter, I’m not going to get into them here, because that’s not the point of this email. The point of this email is to highlight the human tendency to oversimplify complex problems to find a “simple” solution, or in this case, scapegoat, where they can point to and advance their particular agenda based on “evidence” that there’s a simple cause and effect relationship in place.
When faced with a problem we’re passionate about – or, in our case, we’re accused of causing, or being tasked to prevent – we desperately want to find “the one thing” that if we changed would make the whole situation evaporate into nothing.
Sometimes, this is possible. However, anyone who’s actually tried knows that in order to find the right leverage point to make the greatest amount of impact, it actually takes a lot of time, research and deep thinking to figure out.
Very rarely is something so obviously the cause of a complex problem that you can trip over the answer and know exactly what to do.
In the real world, if we want to understand the problem fully, we have to understand the system in which the problem occurs, and we have to identify and understand the relationships that exist within that system so we can have some level of confidence we’re chasing the right tail.
The problem comes from the general difficulties in identifying these relationships and what roles they play, and if we do manage to make headway, we often discover that many of the things that matter most might not actually be things we can very easily control or influence.
The above situation is pretty-much a description of what goes on in the life of a security professional. We spend the majority of our time trying to understand the complexities and interconnections of the organizations we’re trying to protect—as well as the way our organizations impact the world and the world impacts our organizations.
On any given day, it can be enough to do your head in!
But if we don’t, we’ll be ending up chasing billionaires instead of education and birth control, and, ultimately, we’re not going to be very effective in delivering our mission and purpose as security to keep the organization safe while it goes about doing whatever it is it’s trying to do.
We’ll invest money in the wrong place.
We’ll prioritize the wrong risks.
And we’ll, just basically be spinning our wheels, eroding our credibility and trust with the rest of the people we’re supposed to be helping because they just aren’t able to see it…
Because we can’t see it either.
If we’re going to get beyond that problem so we can really understand the intricacies and the inner-workings of our organizations, we need some better tools. Now, fortunately…we don’t have to invent them. We have some really fantastic tools included in the fundamental theory underpinning the SABSA methodology, and one of those is the governance model as it applies to domains.
If we put in the time and the effort, we can use this tool to untangle the most complex relationships and figure out where we should really spend the most of our time, energy and money for the maximum benefit in delivering our mission and purpose.
But it’s hard to do from a blank sheet of paper.
That’s why the whole of the upcoming December issue of the print, delivered-to-your-door Security Sanity™ newsletter is about how you figure out how the world fits together, who does what, and who owns what, so you can prioritize, so you can make better decisions, and so you can do a better job keeping the organization safe.
To subscribe and make sure you get it before the deadline at the end of the month, go to this link:
Read the sales page carefully. Re-read the sample July issue, and make the decision whether it’s right for you, and whether it will help make your life easier and better as a security professional.
I know it did for me, but maybe it won’t for you—for any number of reasons. As I’ve said before, many, many times…only you can make the decision. My job is to make sure you have access to the information, tips and techniques you need to be as successful as you can be. That’s what the newsletter is all about, and that’s why it costs real money.
If you’re one of my US readers, happy Veteran’s Day to you, and I hope you enjoy your day off. If you happen to be active or former US military, as an American, I thank you for your service.
Stay safe, and don’t oversimplify!
Andrew S. Townley
Archistry Chief Executive