On a recommendation from a friend, I picked up Tribes by Seth Godin. I’ve read many of Seth’s great books, the most popular probably being The Purple Cow, and each time I marvel at human nature’s rationalization that complex equals better. Complexity sometimes equals better, but don’t you think it’s funny how sometimes the simplest ideas are the ones that far exceed the complex ones? These are the ones that end up leaving a red mark on your forehead from your hand after you smack yourself and say “Dammit, why didn’t I think of that?!?”

Man crush aside1, security professionals need to read his books. If there is anything negative to say about us security folks, it’s that we don’t have the marketing skills to help others see how our ideas can make the future better for everyone.

Now, on to one of the sections from Tribes. Seth talks about risk and the probability of risk. He says something in here that should ring true to most readers, and that is that many people are so afraid of risk that they can barely even use the word2. He then goes on to define risk as the probability of failure, thus when saying something like the probability of risk, we are talking about the probability of probability.

Circular AND fun.

He postulates that the safer you play your cards, the riskier your position is because the world is constantly changing.

We’ve all sat in meetings where the elephant in the room was the new direction the company needed to go, but no one was willing to stick their neck out there to own the change. I’ve been in customer meetings like this.

It’s depressing.

All of the innovative energy that made the company great is chased away by risk managers and corporate ladder climbers such that we all sit in a state of decision paralysis. Seth’s point to the three paragraph section I am referring to is that we should take risk to enable change. Change for the better will keep us relevant. Keeping those same legacy systems and process in place just because we don’t want to challenge the status quo is riskier than raising your hand and asking a hard question or two!

“Why do you do X? Why do you do it in Y way? What business constraints do we have that preventing us from doing it like Z, especially if we could save $2 million in the first year?”

Now it’s time to do a little self reflection. What risks have you put off taking when thinking of the status quo? Should you take a risk by putting a complete business case around some new hardware and services that you know your company needs and presenting it as high up as you can get? How about expanding your personal network to include others at the company outside of your group3?

Make the next six weeks a time where you take a risk or two. If you think it through carefully4, the rewards could be huge!

This post originally appeared on BrandenWilliams.com.

  1. Yeah, I have a small man crush on Seth Godin. []
  2. This and remaining ideas are all from Seth Godin’s book entitled Tribes, pages 110 and 111. []
  3. It’s amazing what you can find out when you buy a round. How do you think sales reps know so much about the inner workings of companies they are not employed at? []
  4. And don’t be a jackass… seriously. Remember other people have feelings unlike us security-bots. []