Trends Column / Security Leadership and Management

The Security Service Economy

More and more, security is focusing its value proposition on a service culture.

More and more, security is focusing its value proposition on a service culture. While this topic has been raised by many CSOs in recent years, the volume and frequency of the subject reached a peak recently and deserves some attention.

Security’s service mission has long been a core part of the security mission and function. Dating back to guards, guns and gates, the first person a visitor often encountered visiting an enterprise was a security officer. And that first impression represented, if not defined, the brand for that visitor.

As a security line item, guard services are always on top and under pressure. So it makes economic sense to change the role from waiting for something bad to happen to adding value through either customer service, maintenance or other service-related tasks. While those are low-level dollar swapping functions, they are not in line with what a true service-focused organization needs to deliver to its stakeholders.

A few years ago, Mark Farrell, CSO at Comcast, caught my attention during the ASIS pre-show tour, which included a visit to Comcast’s new corporate headquarters. During the design and construction of the new building, Brian Roberts, CEO of Comcast, stated that he wanted people walking into the Comcast lobby to have a similar experience to his own when he walks into a five-star hotel, such as the Four Seasons or the Ritz-Carlton. Farrell, in partnership with AlliedBarton and the property management company, Liberty Property Trust, thus created a world-class concierge program that generates measurable economic value for the company.

More recently, during this year’s Security 500 research and interviews, one of our education sector executives discussed his contribution to his school district’s educational mission. He shared that while his team’s role is to protect and secure, it should not be at the expense of the overall mission. His example was a band member whose instrument was locked in the band room but needed it to rehearse. “You go to the school, meet the parents, unlock the school, unlock the band room and enable that student to practice so they can compete and win the district, county, state, national, whatever band competition,” he explained. “Our job is never to inhibit or prevent the educational mission.”

All of which brings us to my recent talk with frequent Security 500 Conference presenter and perennially great CSO, Jim Hutton, Director of Global Security for Procter & Gamble. He is a brilliant thought-leader, innovator and he is modest beyond… well, beyond the definition of “modest.” I recently asked him why the service culture and discussion seemed to be everywhere these days. And he shared that my timing for my call was right on target.

“You just don’t have a long runway to get your head on right,” he explained. “The stakes are too high, and the changes are too fast. Security’s importance regarding risk management and enterprise resilience cannot be overstated, but before you get to that discussion, you better check your ego at the door, put your diplomas aside and serve the emotional and business needs of your customers, the stakeholders that you were hired to support.”

“The success drivers for the P&G culture are to be in touch with the internal customer and understand their need and deliver on the services they require,” he said. In fact, P&G requires its security department leaders to attend the Notre Dame Management Program on Managing and Influencing. “Our philosophy is to be a servant leader,” Hutton said.

Another interesting trend among security leaders is Ken Blanchard (best known for “The One Minute Manager”) and Phil Hodges’ book, “The Servant Leader,” which focuses on Jesus Christ as a model whose leadership style can be applied successfully to today’s challenges. The book outlines the case that “servant leaders” are far more valuable and successful than “self-serving leaders.”

The book includes passages from the Bible and clear views on why servant leaders are more successful. For example, “Servant leaders look at leadership as an act of service. They embrace and welcome feedback as a source of useful information on how they can provide better service.” And, “self-serving leaders spend most of their time protecting their status. If you give them feedback how do they usually respond? Negatively.”

A musical instrument locked in a band room is one small example of security’s service culture that is appropriately focused on both the emotional and the physical security needs of its stakeholders from the moment they enter and fall under the umbrella of your brand.

The “I know it when I see it” value of security as a service economy value driver is strong and growing across all Security 500 sectors this year. And to paraphrase the brand of another great CSO, Richard Gunthner, “The value is priceless.”   

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