Do you follow CW?
April 5, 2013
Throughout the earlier parts of my career I ‘toed’ the corporate line. I did what I was told blindly, with no thought to originality or creativity. And I believed that was the way to do things. At the time, 30 years ago, I was with Wells Fargo Guard Services (now defunct having been a part of several mergers and acquisitions).
As Major Frank Burns, Larry Linville of M*A*S*H fame, stated during an episode this line ‘If we don’t follow our leaders blindly and act the same, we can’t be independent and free’. It is unfortunate but I thought that way. And probably the reason was that the company I worked for encouraged it, as do far too many security ‘guard’ companies do today.
I learned as I continued with them that this wasn’t the way to get things done. Nor was it the way to improve things and the conditions that security was under. So I started to change and have kept changing to this day, much too many peoples chagrin and mine at times.
At this point I can say that I don’t follow conventional wisdom (CW). And to that point I hope I never will. CW is constraining, restrictive, doesn’t allow for creativity or originality. So, therefore, I will continue to think ‘out of the box’! That is where the best ideas come from and problems are solved after all.
I read a story about a college kid who started his working career at Fenway Park in Boston selling Crunch-n-Munch. He wasn’t making much money (about $15 per night because he was paid on commission). So his 2nd night on the job he changed his strategy and started singing, dancing, and acting like a good stand-up comedian, didn’t matter that he couldn’t sing or dance a bit. His income increase to well over $400 per night by the end of the baseball season. This was definitely against CW at the time for food hawkers in the 70’s & 80’s. But it worked and he was entertaining obviously.
Sometimes this has served me well during my career. Other times it hasn’t and I’ve gotten into trouble and even fired for these thoughts and ‘counter-productive’ solutions for clients. They were counter-productive only to the company I worked for, not the people I managed or the clients I worked for. The clients and officers were always happy with what I did, mostly, it was the company I was working for that didn’t like what I did.
On the social networking site Linked-In I came across an article that really seemed to speak to me. It was posted in a discussion group by a colleague of mine, Felix Nader. Here is an excerpt of the discussion;
If you’re not up for being a creator, at least be willing to put yourself out there to support and defend new ideas. Don’t simply follow the crowd and their Opinion of something. Form your own independent thoughts and stand behind those beliefs. Don’t bow to the criticism of other critics who might criticize you. Leadership is about being out in front and taking others to new places. You can’t lead if you simply follow the conventional wisdom because it’s safe.
This sentiment simply tells me that not following CW is the right path. I never have followed it and I don’t want to start now. I believe that I can do well enough without following everyone else and falling into line with whatever is out there that is new, exciting, or shiney.
As security professionals it is our duty NOT to follow CW and everybody else. We need to chart the course for our clients and our own companies. So the one thing I tell clients and other people to is simple; don’t follow the rules!
That brings me to 2 books that I simply love. The first is by Robert Krenzel entitled ‘If it ain’t Broke, Break it!’ The other one is entitled ‘Re-work’ by Jason Fried.
Both of these books take CW and turn it on its proverbial head. And I’m sure that most of my former bosses would turn in their graves or wiggle like they have scorpions in their pants over the actions suggested by these books! But as I said before, CW is not all that great.
I firmly believe that CW can, at times, be moldy, old, smelly, & totally useless in a world where things change too fast to keep up at times. So thumb your noses at CW and try something new, bold, & exciting. If it fails, lesson learned.
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