Are you ready?
March 2018, This Week's Editor's Pick, News, Conferences & Events, Training & Education
The South African Institute of Security (SAIS) held its first briefing of the year at the Garden Court Hotel in Kempton Park. The theme of the event was ‘2018… are you ready?’ The briefing was focused on providing insight for security risk managers to determine if they are ready to face the challenges in the coming year.
The event was facilitated by Colin Ackroyd, who welcomed the guests and introduced the two speakers of the morning. First up was Johan du Plooy from Temi Group, who spoke on challenges facing the risk manager by basing his presentation on the insights from Sun Tzu, an ancient Chinese general, military strategist and philosopher who lived about 2 500 years ago.
Sun Tzu’s writings became famous in the West in the 20th century with the translation and publication of the book, The Art of War, where its teachings have found positive recognition in the military, political and business arenas. Now, thanks to Du Plooy, they are being applied to the realm of the security risk manager.
Du Plooy took a number of Sun Tzu’s strategies and applied them to modern risk management. Starting off, he focused on the phrase “The way you operate and think, determines if you win or not”. From this perspective, the risk manager needs to ensure he/she and their team have the skills necessary to carry out their task in a manner that achieves the goals of their organisations.
This means the risk management framework or strategy must take five basic points from Tzu into account:
• Seasonal factors and timing,
• Landscape or operational terrain,
• Leadership qualities,
• Management skills, and
• Moral law.
It also means that the risk manager must be in a position to assess and deal with the challenges that will be forthcoming, even those that are not obvious at first. In a nutshell, risk personnel must be able to:
• Accept conflict,
• Assess strategy,
• Engage the enemy,
• Use their resources effectively,
• Adapt to the field (the situation, circumstances and environment they are presented with),
• Avoid predictability, and
• Collect intelligence.
While the importance or priority of each of these factors may change depending on the person and situation, they are all part and parcel of the security challenges faced today in a violent society that seems set in its ways.
Du Plooy’s presentation delved into many other aspects of strategy, based on Sun Tzu’s writing, but extremely relevant to the modern risk manager. These included issues such as the correct way to ‘wage war’, or to engage those intent on attacking an organisation or its people; how to plan for success (subduing the enemy’s troops without fighting), as well as tactics and momentum.
Understand what you do
Juan Kirstan, director general of the International Security Industry Organisation (ISIO) was up next. Kirsten pressed home the fact that risk management is a serious job that requires in-depth skills. Experience in the police force or military may be a starting point, but there is much more at stake that security managers need to have in their arsenal.
Kirsten asked the audience if they understood what they did? A strange question to ask a room full of security professionals, but he quickly demonstrated that the responsibilities they were tasked with are immense. As he noted, a surgeon has one life in his/her hands, security risk managers have multiple lives and assets in their hands all the time. Of course the focus of these two professions is different, but the importance of effective security management is often underrated.
Kirsten stressed this by asking how many of the security/risk managers in the room report to the MD or the board of directors. Given the responsibilities they are tasked with, their role should be elevated to this level. Defining success in the security field, Kirsten said success depends on the level of situational awareness of decision makers on the ground and their reaction speed.
The key is situational awareness of your environment and of yourself and your team. This means more than knowing what is happening on the ground right now, but also being aware of historical data and the impact it will have on current situations. Kirsten says the security/risk manager’s nightmare is wondering what is happening in the trenches that you don’t know about
While there are many skills required, the key skill is not weapons training or self-defence, but understanding human nature and being able to assess a situation before it happens and either prevent it or have the necessary resources deployed to manage it. This applies in dangerous situations such as violent crime and riots, but it is just as pertinent in the boardroom and in negotiations. He stated that the person who can read the other person better, fares better in a negotiation.
Of interest to the South African perspective, Kirsten noted that the security and risk manager can not be biased in any way, as this taints their thinking and judgement of the situation as well as their ability to read the other person. A racist, for example, has certain expectations of someone from a particular race and is therefore at a disadvantage when trying to read the person in real time.
Ackroyd ended the proceedings for the day by asking Errol Peace, MD of BTC Training and chairman of SAIS to say a few words. Peace reiterated the need for skills enhancement and more professional recognition of the security and risk management discipline. He also mentioned that we often see security skills as those things a guard should be trained in, but forget that there are specific skills in the management area that also need to be learned and enhanced for optimal risk management in all spheres of business.
All the attendees received a certificate of attendance for the morning, after which everyone was able to enjoy the lunch menu and a time for networking with their peers.