In my younger days in the security field I towed the corporate line. I did what I was told blindly. I believed that was the way to do things and get ahead. At the time, 32 years ago, I was with Wells Fargo Guard Services, now a part of Securitas.
I firmly believed in what Major Frank Burns, Larry Linville of M*A*S*H fame, stated “If we don’t blindly follow our leaders and act the same, we can’t be independent and free”. It is unfortunate but I thought that way. And probably because the company encouraged it, as do too many security companies still do.
I did learn, usually the hard way, as I pursued my career 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 even mine at times.
At this point I can say that I don’t follow conventional wisdom (CW), and haven’t for nearly 30 years. And speaking to that point I hope I never will. CW is constraining, restrictive, doesn’t allow for creativity or originality. I’ll continue to think out of the box. After all that’s where the best ideas come from, ask history books about Nicholai Tesla, Albert Einstein, Bill Gates, & Steve Jobs.
Not following CW has been considered counterproductive by my former employers, except one, & others. But it has served to problem solve and my clients well. They were counter-productive only to the company, not the people I managed or the clients I worked for. Mostly the clients and officers were always satisfied with what I did. And despite the employer, I earned several commendations for my actions.
On Linked In I came across an article several years ago, that really seemed to speak to me. 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 statement tells me that by not following CW I’m still on the right path. I never have followed it and I’m not gonna 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. And sometimes this means ignoring standard & best practices of others.
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!
I firmly believe that, sometimes, CW can be moldy, old, smelly, & totally useless in a world where things change too fast to keep up. So thumb your noses at CW and try something new, bold, & exciting. If it fails, lesson learned.
And if you get fired or disciplined for it, so what. You will know that you did what was best for the company or client. And even following the best practices set forth by ASIS International and many other organizations, security or not, will fail if you just do as they say and have put in writing. You have to be prepared to take the risk and put yourself out of the box instead of closing it on yourself!
And besides that, who says you can’t go above and beyond what the best practices are of professional organizations? As security professionals we have to be able to see beyond tomorrow and look into next week, year, and even the next decade. And following CW you simply can’t do that.
Robert D. Sollars is a recognized expert on security issues, specifically workplace violence. He’s spent 32 years in the security field. Contact him at 480-251-5197 or Visit his Facebook page, http://www.facebook.com/oneistoomany
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