If you’ve been following along for even a little while, you might remember that I’ve been spending a lot of time back in Cape Town since about August. You might also remember a rant—er, a story or two about a thing called load shedding that they do in South Africa. Basically, it’s (generally) planned, neighborhood-wide rolling blackouts with a handy app (independently provided) that helps you keep track of when the lights are about to go out. Right now, we’re in Stage 2, which means that every day, you don’t have power for about 2-and-a-half hours, and every other day, you get a bonus round of darkness.
The other day, our timed blackout window happened to be from 12:00-2:30pm, which, you might’ve guessed, is smack in the middle of lunchtime for normal people. So, since it was a bazillion degrees in the house, there wasn’t any breeze and it was one of the hottest days we’ve had in a while, nobody was interested in cooking lunch over a hot, gas stove.
After some discussion, eventually the decision was made to get some takeaway. And the order of choice was burgers and chips. So off I trotted to one of the local quasi-Italian burger/pasta/pizza joints because they actually have better burgers than most.
Of course, they were in the dark too since they’re in the same suburb, but they were open and still serving. However, when I walked in, the waiter said to me,
“No pizzas, and no chips.”
I nodded, then realized that they only had electric ovens, so that was fine. One of the backup orders was actually focaccia, which fell into the pizza category since it required the same oven.
So, I said, “3 burgers with chips, please,” actually somewhat distracted, and totally forgetting what he’d just told me about their inability to fry frozen potatoes without power.
He looked at me, and reminded me, “Um, no chips. We’re load shedding. You can have a side salad instead…or some sweet potato mash, but no chips.”
At this point, my heat-infused, food-frenzy haze started to lift slightly, and I just looked at him squarely—and at the manager who’d come up during the conversation.
“Well, I don’t think a salad’s going to cut it. You’re sure you can’t make chips?”
“Yah,” he said. “We don’t have power for the fryers.”
So I kinda peered back into the kitchen, noticed the gas-fired burners and griddles cranking out the other orders, and I asked, “Do you have a pan?”
To which he kinda looked at me a bit strangely. “Yeah. Of course we do.”
“Ok,” I said. “So do you have some oil?”
Again, he still hadn’t quite copped where I was headed with it, so he said, “Well…yeah.”
“So, you can make some chips, right?” I asked.
And a whole longer conversation ensued whereby it was clear that the thought of trying to deliver the desired item in an alternative manner than the procedures, training and “normal” path said it would take had narry a glimmer o’ light ‘er seen. Not to mention an apparent lack of the skills required to make it happen.
Eventually, and after two attempts, I got my chips. Not perfect, for sure, but functional.
Most importantly, the customer’s desired requirements were actually delivered—even under unanticipated circumstances where “the book” – or, in this case, “the manager” – said wasn’t possible.
Like the last few of these stories, there’s more than a few security architecture lessons here. Take, for example, clearly understanding the capabilities you deliver vs. the way they’re delivered is a big one. And, in fact, that’s why the whole idea of defining attributes in SABSA security architectures gives you articulation points to change your solution delivery while still delivering the overall requirements of your architecture.
The customer requirement was getting some chips to go with the burger.
The capability required was fried.
The standard, architecturally-approved solution mechanism was an electric deep fryer—unfortunately, not currently available under the present environmental context.
To solve this dilemma required a realization that there was a “frying service” actually in play that was being implemented by the electric fryer. And once you recognized that, then your imagination is unleashed to find some other way to deliver that service using the existing mechanisms and components at hand…
…in this case, the most basic of kitchen components:
- a pan
- cooking oil
Far too often, we, as security professionals, get “solution fixation” and find it difficult to do anything other than say the equivalent of “no chips and no pizza” when it’s pretty clear that these are what the customer actually wants.
While it’s not hard – once you realize you need to do it – the realization is only part of the story. The rest of the story that allows you to consistently focus on the value or outcomes the customer wants and gives you the creative freedom to actually deliver it more often than you might think is exactly the kind of thing the use of the principles and practices of The Agile Security System™ are designed to enable.
Right now, the best place to learn how to apply them in the shortest amount of time so you can start delighting your security customers instead of being the big, bad, security police…
…is by joining the February 24th cohort of Building Effective Security Architectures, our flagship online learning experience that takes you on a security architecture skill-building journey over 7 weeks so you can being building SABSA security architectures almost on auto-pilot.
If that sounds like your cup of tea, then here’s the link:
But remember, the cohort starts on the 24th of this month, so time is getting shorter by the day. There aren’t any late joiners allowed, and all registrations must be confirmed by no later than the 21st—which is just over 2 short weeks from now.
It’s getting time to make a choice. Whichever you chose is up to you. Chips are optional.
Andrew S. Townley
Archistry Chief Executive