The Business-Technology Weave

Jan 6 2011   12:46PM GMT

The human element

David Scott David Scott Profile: David Scott


What is the most critical element, or factor, in any system’s security? 


In other words, what most influences its strength against breach, its level of invulnerability to corruption, its flexibility and scalability for new business circumstances and progressions? 


That critical element is human beings.


Occasionally when I consult, I hear groans:  Oh no – please tell us it isn’t so…  human beings?  That most volatile, transient, and intractable resource?  Sure:  Everything begins, proceeds, and ends with the employees – from CXO to intern. 


Like it or not, people are our greatest challenge – and, I sincerely hope too, our greatest reward.  We all love working with great people.


Whether procuring new systems, planning and changing existing ones, or just exercising a system’s day-to-day production, it all has to be done within the surety of best business/technology practices.  And, in the vast majority of organizations, during the vast majority of time, things are done that way.  But what of human error when it leads to poor business decisions?  Or poor IT outcomes, and resultant poor deliveries or service to business?


What of harmful actions delivered by malfeasance?  What do we need to consider in preventing bad outcomes, and in recovering from them once occurring – and what do we do to improve, and guard against recurrences?


When considering people and their vulnerabilities – and thus, vulnerabilities in and to systems – the leader must consider three things that can “breach” a person’s solid, stable, performance:


Internal state:  Evaluate employees on their fit to the job; on their happiness in it; on their goals and aspirations; their overall morale…


Practices (that is, their ways of working):  Naturally you must ensure the organization does its part in orienting and training employees.  Also, measure individual employees general work ethic, standards of quality, adherence to care, attention to detail, etc. as to how effectively individual human practices fit to and support your organization’s best practices.


Surrounding environment:  I doubt you’d work on your car on a frozen pond wearing ice skates.  The proper environment, tools, and teamwork is crucial.  Ensure people’s best chances for success – and therefore your org’s – by instituting knowledge-shares and ready access to the best tools; whether that’s programming tools, backup systems, content management, policy & procedures, planning, etc., be certain you’re up-to-spec in all functional areas.


Ensure you’re supporting your people through regularized education, training, and counseling.  Then, stop looking at your people as human resources:  It’s gonna be 5 o’clock – buy ‘em a dinner and be sure to tell them it’s from me.



NP:  Bessie Smith, Empress of the Blues, original Columbia 4-disc 78 RPM set in original binder:   C-31.  Nice.


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