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Security leadership

Harness the power of creativity

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Sometimes it is tempting to fall in love with the tools we have.  It is as if these tools become something that we cherish – love – and want to protect at all costs. After all, the world begins to look a lot like a nail when we are holding a hammer.

But is what we are doing really good for our business?  And moreover, is there any creativity or innovation generated when we clutch our tools so closely to our hearts?

Sadly, the answer is no.  But don’t worry – there is something you can do.

I have listed three things to help shift your mentality from one of inclusiveness and protectionism of tools to one of creativity, innovation and exploration.  Using the Creator Mindset and a creative approach that is essentially free — it costs you nothing to shift your perspective — we can uncover real actionable creativity that the security industry and our security peers can benefit from.

  1.  The Complacency Conundrum 

Most businesses I speak with or consult with have a similar problem — no matter what industry.  We seem to fall in love with established practices and feel that there is no more room for improvement.  If it has always been done this way, then why change it?

But when looked at creatively, we need to leave no rock unturned, especially when it comes to security. 

Just because the pipeline has been established in a current practice doesn’t mean that the practice is good.  It doesn’t even mean that it’s decent.  Any rock can hold up the foundation of a house for some time – but does that mean it’s a good solution?

In fact, when I consult I look for these types of “established structures” and attack them creatively first. I find that these particular spots in the structure or pipeline are the most apt for change, innovation and new and fresh ideas.

Ask why things have been done this way, and change them to match the new realities of what is going on.  Many companies have gotten fleeced by the realities of COVID-19 — but there is undoubtedly some new threat on the horizon.  Don’t get caught in complacency.  Use creativity for a new way forward.

  1.  The Idea is the Strongest Tool You Have

It’s not how you implement a particular solution, or the complexity or simplicity or performance of that solution.  It’s the idea behind it that is most important.

Again — something I see across industries pop up over and over again is the love of technology over everything else. It is as if we see the technology as being a sort of saving grace. From technology there will come something that will save us from our particular predicament or tribulation.

But nothing can be further from the truth.

Creativity and ideas are the currency of the 21st century. Technology merely serves the idea — not the other way around. Start with defining the problem or risk and look at various tools you have at your disposal to solve these problems, not the other way around.

I gave a keynote to a software convention right before COVID hit, and I opened the keynote with one of my favorite lines that I feel captures the software industry fully.  I said that most of the people in the room are working on a software/technology that exists to solve a problem that no one has.  Isn’t that amazing?  The whole industry is set up largely to push products that solve problems no one has — and just because we have this tool means that it should help somewhere at some point. Right?  But just as a screwdriver is useless to a glassblower, so is this particular software to your organization.  Or — perhaps even worse — this particular software solves a small slice of a larger problem which begets — yes you have guessed — more software or technology needed to purchase.

And the vicious cycle goes on forever. This is not sustainable in security departments around the world that have limited budgets and increasing expectations and risks. 

Define the problem before having a solution in mind. And be creative about it. It can be so much cheaper — it just might take a behavioral change or something low tech to help solve the problem — but we will never see it if we are bombarded with solutions that promise to be our salvation.   

  1.  Avoid Auto-Pilot

So many of us spend our days in search of predictability — but what if I were to tell you that predictability from a creative standpoint is counter-productive?  That comfort is damaging to our ability to come up with new and fresh ideas to solve problems?

Getting out of your comfort zone is essential. Do more, be more, experience more. You cannot rely on what worked yesterday to continue to work tomorrow.  It is up to you to explore continuously to see what is out there together with defining the problem creatively in the first place.

Without stepping out of your comfort zone new ideas will never happen.

Creativity and innovation is out there everyday, waiting for you to take advantage of it’s wonderful fruits. But you cannot take advantage of creativity and innovation if you are stuck in the three mindsets I have outlined above. In fact, I believe that without creativity you will never be able to solve what you are trying to solve in the first place. At best, you will see a semi-connected plan that is held together with some measure of a spit and gum. I see it all the time in so many different industries.  But the good news is that when you leave no rock unturned creatively, solutions to problems just may be much easier than you thought.

**Originally published at Security Magazine

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