As you may know from my recent story about a suicidal frog at the house we rent in Cape Town now – or perhaps it was just an unfortunate accident, take your pick – there is a pool. And said pool hasn’t been fully operational or “happy” in the 8 months we’ve lived here.
Now, before you go get all judgmental about South Africa, having a pool and all that “living the good life” in relation to yesterday’s NYT piece, as I said before: this is kinda normal in the ‘burbs where we live.
Since we’re hanging upside down from many of the folks who will eventually read this, we’re getting into the last dying gasps of summer now, and, after 8 months, I’ve been kinda tired that the damn thing isn’t working the way it’s supposed to be.
So, after waiting for “the experts” to sort it all out, I decided to take matters into my own hands and really figure out the problem.
If you know me at all, this is what I do. Basically, I can ignore something for a while, and then…WHAM! Time to sort that shit out.
Close to the house, there’s a pool shop—different than who I’d spoken to before. And I’d already consulted with Dr. Google Pools on more than one occasion, so I asked them about the set-up the owners have installed.
After I explained the situation to them – really, knowing feck-all about pools – the guy kinda looked at me, laughed a bit, and said,
“That grey thing you’re talking about? Yeah. That’s a weight. You don’t need that with the ‘robot’ you’re using. You need a float!”
“A float?” I said, having actually asked him about this very thing based on observation of the stupid thing getting stuck on its back like an underwater turtle.
“So how much is that?” I asked.
“70 Rand,” he said—which is like $4.80 the way the exchange rate is here right now.
“And this will sort it, and I won’t have to worry about babysitting it anymore?” I asked, just to confirm.
“Well, yeah,” he said. “It should’ve had one of those to begin with,” he added, nodding sagely.
Sure. Of course it should. But I have no idea how long it’s been since this particular critter has been used, nor who did it.
The guys swapped it out (spelt “swopped” normally here in ZA, BTW) because the other thing had sucked the guts out of its last frog, and clearly, they didn’t really pay attention as to everything required when they did the job. Because while they replaced the obviously missing hose connector, they didn’t quite twig that the grey thing on the end of the hose was a weight instead of the float that should’ve been there.
So, they of course then wondered why their “fix” hadn’t made an observable dent in the greenish water with the consistency of pea-soup. And, every week, they’d pour more chemicals in the pool, and basically cross their fingers and say, “It just takes time.”
After adding the $4 float AND getting the silly little 2s test kit AND purchasing 3 “sparkle-magic” pool pills AND adding administering a daily cup of granular chlorine to my morning routine…
…you can now actually not only see the bottom of the pool, but the robot scrubber hasn’t missed a beat since I added the float.
And then it started pissing rain on a daily basis and the temperature dropped a wee bit below “pool friendly.”
While there’s a bunch of potential morals of this story relevant to security leadership, I’m going to focus on only a couple.
First, the primary issue here was that people responsible for the job were following the procedures they had, but they didn’t demonstrate the awareness and initiative required to actually solve the problem.
They’d just do what they were supposed to do every week, shrug their shoulders and basically say, “We’ll see what it’s like next week, boss.”
Were they doing their job? Arguably, yes.
However, were they effective?
Um…no. No, they weren’t.
This exact same thing happens in organizations I’ve seen that are too heavily focused on trading “getting a procedure in place” instead of really grading on the effectiveness of achieving the outcome.
Successful execution of a procedure is not an outcome. Ever.
And yet, due to the pressures of cost control, remote teams, turnover, outsourcing and all the other realities of modern security staffing, it’s often all a security leader has to measure…
…until they get pissed off enough with nothing ever changing and either directly or indirectly identify what the real problem is, and make sure it’s addressed.
Second, fixing these problems almost always requires both technical and procedural changes.
I had to buy a $4 float, a test kit and a bucket of chlorine granules (the specific solution components), and then I ALSO had to change my behavior—both immediately to execute the change program (use the pool tablets) and permanently to continue to implement the change (the ol’ daily cup of cloro).
Again, many times, as security leaders, we think we can throw a new tool or technology gizmo at it without actually changing not only the way we work…but also changing the way we THINK.
And when (if) we don’t, we still get surprised that after that blip, nothing really changes.
In this case, the tech components were a truly minor change and investment, and so were the procedures. However, doing both, the right way, and in the right order, made all the difference in the outcome.
But we’ll miss it because we’re too close – or too busy – and it’s just not a big enough problem to address—until it’s too late, and we have no choice. And sometimes, when we wait that long, it’s well past the point where we can do much about it.
That’s when the right outside perspective can be the difference between a pool full of piranhas and alligators or shiny, sparkly reflections of sunshine.
So my question to you as a security leader is simply this:
What color is your pool, and what are you going to do about it?
And even if it’s bright and shiny today, there’s ALWAYS another problem to solve, or a way to get better, so who’s in your corner for those insights?
This perspective, experience and dedicated support is exactly what our Security Leadership coaching and mentoring program is all about.
We help you solve the problems that are keeping you from getting the results you know are possible—even if you’re already a star player.
If you’re ready to start playing the A-game and be the best you can be, you still have some time before the end of the month to get this kind of 1:1 support.
Here’s the link: https://archistry.com/go/SecurityLeader
So, what’s stopping you?
What is it you think would keep you from getting that step-change I’ve been talking about?
Either reply to this email or go to the link and apply for the program, and we’ll talk about it in person.
We’ve helped a lot of other people just like you, and I know we can help you too.
Let’s get started!
Andrew S. Townley
Archistry Chief Executive