Conferring With My Security Sensei


Every modern organization must deal with the challenges of addressing customer needs while simultaneously maintaining information security. It is a difficult concept to grasp, so this week we turn to our Facility Security Officer to provide you tips on overcoming this evolving challenge.

A wide range of risks have produced a high threat arena. To combat this, bureaucratic industrial security programs have been developed, but they can be challenging for many small businesses to manage. As a Facility Security Officer (FSO), one cannot imagine a work place where some form of industrial security is not practiced. The security threats we experience today begin with attacks on 9/11 but began growing as early as the late 1990s  with the advent of the digital age that affected every aspect of our lives. Security Practices and Procedures can’t possibly deal with the administrative, technical and operational risks that modern companies must identify and manage. Holistic solutions are needed because the problems are more complex and the risks are more difficult to isolate than in days past.

I often liken my experience as an FSO with that of a student and his sensei. As a student of martial arts, I often seek out my Security Sensei at his dojo. He serves as a touchstone when I am unable to make sense of the problem and need advice. What makes a Security Sensei so valuable in the digital world? Besides his wisdom, patience, and listening skills, he is a reflective thinker. Reflective thinkers consider problems in context and spend a good deal of time appreciating the links among conditions, risks, and vulnerabilities. They visualize the system as a whole and generate explanations for assessing trajectories and effects of our decisions and actions.

Recently, I met with my sensei to discuss the mysteries and myths surrounding best practices in security. “Oh wise one”, I asked, “Where should one go to make sense of the risks that modern companies face.”

Hesitating as he contemplated his response, he replied softly, “Look inward for the answer. The external world you cannot control. Focus on things that you can control. Look inward to balance process, method and measures.” We parted and I reflected on the meaning of his message.

What did the Sensei mean by looking inward? How should one balance security processes, methods and measures in a meaningful way? My reflections allowed me to take a perspective that highlights the elements of an effective industrial security program. No security program will eliminate all risks. Instead, be prepared to identify, analyze, and classify risks that are part of your operating environment. Effective security programs require a team effort. Teams that learn and use pattern recognition skills to perceive or anticipate risks are capable of quickly and accurately resolving risks than those teams that simply observe and react after the fact. Make security a discipline that is driven by values and principles that guide actions to prevent problems instead of simply reacting when things don’t go well. Invest in continual improvement and knowledge sharing to achieve balanced security awareness within your team.

In small businesses, being an FSO is an additional duty. By providing each member of the team information about security procedures, by making security a discipline and by providing meaningful feedback, security can reinforce the framework of high performing organizations. To accomplish this outcome, one must infuse security awareness into every aspect of team performance.  Make sure you have a Security Sensei.


About the Author:


Cognitive Performance Group, LLC is a woman-owned small business with offices in Orlando, Florida, and Cleveland, Ohio. It was founded by Dr. Karol G. Ross, Jennifer K. Phillips, and William A. Ross. The three CPG Principals developed the concept for a company to support cognitive performance improvement in industry and government. (more...)

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