Monday, December 22, 2008

Bodyguards Beware

A media team shoots a stand-up in the Baghdad streets

I got involved in a discussion the other day about Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs), protocols, and other cookie cutter procedures that would guide people along the correct course of action. My Scottish security partner came out with a saying that I had never heard before, "Rules Are The Idiots' Guide To The Wise". Huh? In other words, SOPs are put in place to help guide someone that doesn't really know what they're doing in the first place. Wow, that's pretty damning, but it's true.

I've seen guys wrap their head around the minutia of SOPs, writing them down, diagramming them out like football plays, making PowerPoint slides, carrying them around in little notebooks. Come on, either you know what your doing or you don't. If you're confident, knowledgeable, experienced, and calm you will probably make the correct decision every time. If you're carrying around the playbook under your arm and constantly diagramming things out on a whiteboard, well, you might be in over your head.

I know this may sound blasphemous to many in the security industry, but to be honest our ranks are filled with guys and gals that would be lost without their playbook, unable to take the appropriate course of action without the SOPs. They're playing out of their depth.

There's nothing wrong with comparing notes with other team members, but it should be nothing more than an azimuth check. If I've got to memorize a bunch of immediate action drills, then I probably don't have any business being involved in any immediate action.

6 comments:

savior said...

Well said.

Instinct will beat intellect to the puch every time!

NahnCee said...

When Oppenheimer and his team set off the first nuke, they were taking bets on whether or not they would set the atmosphere on fire. Literally, no one knew what would happen.

Do you suppose that was instinct or intellect?

Although in general I agree with the hypothesis as put forth, and would rather work with someone using experience and common sense than someone treating it like a cake recipe to be followed step by ounce by degree.

Executive Protection said...

I appreciate your article on this matter. There are differing points of view for one to look at here.

I was speaking to a Certified Flight Instructor (CFI) the other day about complacency, and he admitted that he has become this at times in preparing for flight. I emphasized that it was important to follow SOP's when flying so that you don't miss a step in the preflight and pre-departure as the steps are a way of checking important things; ie: water in fuel, oil pressure, etc.

Our business has some of the same parameters. One may argue to always be prepared, to which I would agree. So, some may keep detailed notes regarding specifics and not necessarily on formations and how to manage threats.

Now, I'm very partial to white boards. All kidding aside, they have their place in pre-operational planning. Of course not in the field, but they can be used to communicate and diagram an area for a detail. So, they are a good tool for professionals.

I agree though on the overall tone to your post. You either have it or you don't, this is a business that is based on your ability to think on your feet to keep contingencies in your head so that you can access them without fumbling through the pages. Know your exit strategies, know your environment and know what your doing so you can navigate without consulting the manual first. There has to be a plan, but if you have to stop and think about the plan and read your notes then your really not in the right place.

Steve Krollpfeiffer
Deputy Director
Institute of Protection Specialists & Security Contractors
http://www.IPSSC.com
http://www.ProtectiveIntelligenceIntl.com

bodyguardblog said...

I appreciate your article on this matter. There are differing points of view for one to look at here.

I was speaking to a Certified Flight Instructor (CFI) the other day about complacency, and he admitted that he has become this at times in preparing for flight. I emphasized that it was important to follow SOP's when flying so that you don't miss a step in the preflight and pre-departure as the steps are a way of checking important things; ie: water in fuel, oil pressure, etc.

Our business has some of the same parameters. One may argue to always be prepared, to which I would agree. So, some may keep detailed notes regarding specifics and not necessarily on formations and how to manage threats.

Now, I'm very partial to white boards. All kidding aside, they have their place in pre-operational planning. Of course not in the field, but they can be used to communicate and diagram an area for a detail. So, they are a good tool for professionals.

I agree though on the overall tone to your post. You either have it or you don't, this is a business that is based on your ability to think on your feet to keep contingencies in your head so that you can access them without fumbling through the pages. Know your exit strategies, know your environment and know what your doing so you can navigate without consulting the manual first. There has to be a plan, but if you have to stop and think about the plan and read your notes then your really not in the right place.

Steve Krollpfeiffer
Deputy Director
Institute of Protection Specialists & Security Contractors
http://www.IPSSC.com
http://www.ProtectiveIntelligenceIntl.com

Anonymous said...

Eric:

I agree completely!
I use a white board all the time. Sometimes it has scheduling information, when we get super-busy...but usually it has but one message:

"Breathe!"

---Teri Seago

Gertrude said...

Take this mentality and carry it with you into your life as a medic. Your senses and your intstinct will guide you very well in the field.