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A Familiar Scenario: Leading Through Turbulent Times

Volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity. VUCA may just as well be the new motto of 2020. However, turbulent times need courageous and stable leaders to navigate organizations through crises, whether it’s a pandemic, a cyberattack, or a war zone.

On Wednesday at GSX+, explore the theme of “Leading Through Turbulent Times”—a topic that surely connects with many security professionals this year.

When confronted by a crisis, shifting into immediate reaction mode is understandable, and turning to a well-practiced crisis response plan is essential. Having a course of action planned out in advance, however, requires some creative thinking, threat analysis, and strategic decision making.

Scenario analysis or planning is a key part of managing uncertainty and volatility, and is the most recognizable tool of strategic foresight, according to J. Peter Scoblic, writing in Harvard Business Review (HBR). It involves identifying forces that will shape future conditions, exploring how drivers might interact, imagining a variety of plausible outcomes, revising models, and then putting those scenarios to use for more effective decision making.

“Today the use of scenarios is widespread,” Scoblic wrote. “But all too often, organizations conduct just a single exercise and then set whatever they learn from it on the shelf. If companies want to make effective strategy in the face of uncertainty, they need to set up a process of constant exploration—one that allows top managers to build permanent but flexible bridges between their actions in the present and their thinking about the future.”

Security professionals are well-used to operating in a world of uncertainty. Risk, after all, is constantly changing, and security must evolve alongside it to continue to keep organizations safe. As Christopher Walker wrote in the October 2019 issue of Security Management (“How to Use Scenario Analysis to Manage in Uncertain Times”), when done well, scenario analysis brings to light many possible developments and turning points, and it can provide a clearer understanding of what is plausible and what is not.

“Scenario analysis offers the security leader the opportunity to employ business acumen and generate strategic insights that could help the organization weather uncertainty and achieve its aims,” Walker wrote. “That is no small contribution in these uncertain times where keen insights are needed.”

Featured sessions today at GSX+ will help security professionals analyze scenarios from a different perspective, whether they face a cyberattack or a terrorist attack.

First off, don’t miss today’s keynote with General Stanley McChrystal (Ret), who will share practical crisis management and strategic operations lessons from his career as a four-star general and former commander of U.S. and international forces in Afghanistan. McChrystal will share actionable guidance on what it takes to lead in a rapidly shifting landscape.

Codee Ludbey, CPP, principal consultant at Tactix, will share the Australian approach to protecting crowded places from terrorist attacks and how to apply this risk-based approach to other security planning methodologies.

Ashley Picone, senior threat intelligence analyst at RiskIQ, will clarify how threat actors are refocusing their attacks on “human hard drives”—a company’s executives—and how security professionals can reconfigure their thinking around executive protection.

Sallie Edwards, cybersecurity engineer and project leader at the MITRE Corporation’s National Cybersecurity Center of Excellence, will share new ways to consider cybersecurity threats, information sharing, and how to form bridges between cybersecurity solutions and existing standards and frameworks.