Tuesday, August 2, 2011

The View From Inside The Bunker

Honorable persons can disagree...

 This and other fascinating photos of WWII bunkers can be found at http://bunkersite.com/

As you know I have taken strong exception to some parts of some articles published by the Security Sensei.  He, being the better man, wrote to me directly in response to some responses to some of his posts at LinkedIn.

I do not have Jordan Frankel's permission to post the text of his two emails to me (one prompting this response, the other in response to it) so I will not.  I will assure you that his correspondence was polite and professional.  I thought on his initial comments for a while and responded as follows: 

"I understand that you and your firm are in the business of looking after persons who are in the market for safe rooms. As I mentioned in some of my responses, I have recommended safe rooms as part of a comprehensive home security program to some of my executives and clients over the years. My responses to your earlier article on corporate safe rooms was perhaps more strident because I've encountered a few execs (and been told about about many more) who seem to regard their EP program as a measure of how important they are, rather than an accurate representation of their risk profile. If I am accurately reading between the lines of your comments I suspect you have met some of these egos too. Good on you for your pro bono community service work!

I know you have products and services to sell and that your articles are part of your marketing efforts. My greatest concern with those articles I have commented on is that the examples you have chosen to strengthen your case frequently are not ones where a safe room would have helped. Many clients or potential clients - and even some security professionals - will trust the writer and don't look any further into the background of the cases mentioned. Thus, I regard the inclusion of poor but scary examples as alarmist.

I find using alarmist language to sell security services, products, and programs both unethical and counterproductive. Not everyone agrees with me. You and I have peers who regards anything that moves their security program forward as a tool to be employed. This can come back to bite us. Successful executives do not rise to power because they are risk averse. If we manage to frighten a CEO he or she becomes an altogether unattractive leader. When we fail to scare them they regard us with well-earned disdain.

There are others in our ranks who give in to the all too human tendency to agree with people who say things that reinforce views they already hold. The inverse of this is that we also tend to disregard and minimize ideas with which we disagree or which create cognitive dissonance. There are people in America these days who understand this better than most of us do and they are playing both sides of the security debates like a fiddle. I strive to remain aware of this risk and call it out when I see it. If you look over my other posts and responses at LinkedIn groups you'll see that your links are not the only ones I have taken issue with. I appreciate your responses to me as they give me a chance to examine my own presuppositions, lenses, and blinders.

By the way, I really like your OnGARD product. It is reasonably affordable, appears simple to install, is clearly effective, and best of all it is intuitive to use. I like security that is so simple a child can use it, because children frequently are among those we are protecting. I look forward to finding applications for it in my practice.

I hope this exchange is of some use to you. As a citizen, neighbor, husband, and parent there are days when I regret that there is no shortage of security needs in our society. There is much work to be done and I submit that most of it can be accomplished without resorting to alarmism and fear-mongering." 

I thank Jordan Frankel - the Security Sensei - for this exchange, which formed a paragraph or two in the security leadership paper I just completed.  His firm's OnGARD product really is pretty clever.  We will respectfully agree to disagree on how to motivate clients.