Embrace summer picnic small talk if you want to build better security

3 basic steps to improve your security program revealed during summer picnics and vacations

Summertime is here. For many, that means vacations, family gatherings, picnics, and playtime. A break from the norm, it offers an opportunity to change perspective and recharge (hopefully).

Hidden in the enjoyment of summer are three lessons for building a stronger security practice:

1. Embrace the power of the pause

Just getting away for even a long weekend - with a true break - is remarkable in the ability to let go of things and gain a new perspective. July is also a great time to take a tactical pause - a purposeful time to step back and recalibrate.

The idea behind a tactical pause is to briefly stop long enough to make sure you are making the right investments. Useful at multiple times during the year, you can read more here

Minimally, consider these questions to make sure the program is on track:

  • What were the top 3-5 priorities (no more than 5) at the beginning of the year? Why
  • Specifically, how were they expected to support the business (or organization)? Are they meeting expectations?
  • Since the beginning of the year, what has changed -- for the business, for the team
  • Any new threats that demand attention?
  • How are those changes impacting the team?
  • What resources are available (budget, people, access to additional help)?
  • What are the 3 steps to take between now and the end of the year? How do they end the year strong? Do they set the stage for a successful 2015?


Often the pause reveals the need to make some changes. Adapting now to focus on the three areas of highest value produces better results while setting the stage for a stronger year next year. Even a brief, purposeful pause leads to a better security program.

2. Engage in the small talk

Summer picnics mean small talk. Instead of cringing at the thought, think about the sorts of questions asked and embrace the ability of your answers to shape your future.

Common questions at gatherings include elements like:

  • How are you?
  • What are you up to?
  • Any plans for the Fall?

To be fair, the person asking is typically looking to start a conversation. Small talk is a way to seek common ground to reconnect (or politely pass the time). They likely are not asking for a detailed analysis and hoping you break out the tablet to put on a show.

Instead, just ponder the power of the questions. When the party is over, reflect on how you -- and your team -- would candidly answer those questions at work.

  • Where are you in your plan for the year? What sorts of things are benefitting or impacting your progress?
  • What are you and the team up to? Is it what you envisioned? Why or why not?
  • What do you have planned? How likely is that?

After considering your initial response, consider how this aligns with what the business needs. How does it match what you need - personally, professionally, and for the team? Has the environment changed? The threat landscapes? The range of solutions?

Plans are… just plans. The power of the plan is to set an intention and guide action. Sometimes the situation changes and the plan needs to change, too. With half the calendar year in the books, this is the time to consider what changed and adjust the plan.

3. Adapt the budget you have, focus on the budget you need

Often a change in plans and shift in priorities impacts the budget. That means this is the time to look at the budget - the line items, categories, and the total amounts - to figure out how to make the new plan work.

It starts with the mindset. Focus on the outcomes and business benefit. Use that to build the case for amending the budget. Acting now is early enough in the year that you have a better chance of success. Better, in the event you need more budget, the business groups you benefit may have money to contribute.

Broader, here are 3 ways to get the security budget you want (and adapt what you currently have).  

Bonus: invest in yourself

The more we realize security is about more than winning and losing, the more important -- and valuable -- the investment in ourselves (and our teams).

Here are some questions perfect to ask during a summer break: 

  • Do you need time away?
  • Perhaps a change in your routine?
  • What training or support would make a difference?

This isn’t just an annual exercise. It’s not another series of battles. When you shift the perspective, what does that mean for investment in yourself?

Celebrate the summer, improve the year

Summer is a great time to relax, play, and connect. In the process, it affords us a powerful opportunity to step back, reflect on the year, adapt and prepare for success.

To your health, to the improved health of your security program!

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