03 May 2015

Human Behavior: Learning in a New Age of Unreason...

The Human Factors in our organizations continue to be a tremendous challenge.  Operational Risk Management (ORM) has a focus on human behavior because it remains an unpredictable catalyst for substantial loss events in the enterprise.

The decision to trust, is an art that is quickly becoming more of a science.  The ability for the human being to utilize our God given senses of sight, hearing, touch, smell and even cognitive intuition is just not enough to protect us, within our pervasive and expanding digital ecosystem.

Insider information leaks.  Spear phishing.  Intellectual property theft.  Industrial espionage.  You name the vectors involving a human being and you suddenly realize the size and the magnitude of the digital challenge ahead.  The Board of Directors and Executive Management are consistently reminded by the General Counsel about the "Duty of Care" with employees, partners and allies.

So what does all this have to do with your current state of running your organization?  Believe it when we say, that you are not spending enough time or the correct focus of time changing human behaviors in your enterprise.  Historically, the plaintiff lawyers, the States Attorney General or the thousands of international "Black Hat" nation state hackers will make you pay, one way or another.

Your favorite Big Four consulting firm will talk to you all day about errors, omissions and fraud.  The Chief Security Officer (CSO) is operating a sophisticated Security Operations Center (SOC) gathering situational awareness on a 24/7 basis.  So why are we continuously amazed and surprised at our own human behavior and what we are capable of doing?

By now, you have been lectured in depth about having a Layered Defense.  You may have even been told you need an "Active Defense".  Are you still testing new tools and corporate training programs to influence the human behaviors that will ultimately defend or compromise your organization?  Do you recognize the acronym MDM?  Are you as well prepared as you could be for tomorrow's digital work day?  In the cockpit, behind the desktop or navigating at night, across an environmentally austere foreign terrain.

Depending on your up bringing and how you were raised by your parents influences each of us, individually.  Even the types or the content that is taught to us by the institutions we attended in our lifetime, has some impact.  Who do we trust?  What do we trust?  When do we trust?  Why do we trust?  How do we make our "Trust Decisions"?  Trial and error, alone?

Trial and error to this day is a powerful way to change human behavior.  Yet without the continuous education and training to produce new habits and to reinforce quick and sustained responses, it is futile.  The long term reinforcement of human learning changes behavior, with the right incentives in place.  The correct rewards are necessary for the human being to continue achieving, testing and adjusting to any dynamic environment.  At home, at work or out on the frontier of a new and unfamiliar place.  It is a system.  One that we shall design, engineer and replicate with precision.

So the New Age of Unreason is now our Operational Risk Management (ORM) challenge:
  • First, identify where active learning systems are operating within your organization.  There will be formal systems within your HR or training departments, but where are the informal learning systems located; where are the mentors?  Good and rogue actors will exist.
  • Second, document each of these formal and informal learning systems within the enterprise.
  • Third, catalog the human behaviors that each are influencing to serve your customer and/or to protect the organization.
  • Finally, build an interactive learning systems matrix, so that you have the context you need to redesign, upgrade and fill the gaps as you embark on your new learning mission.
We are reminded of the wisdom of Charles Handy:
"We may not, individually, be able to make the world safer from nuclear war, or to preserve the rain forests better, or to keep the ozone layer intact, but, as I argued in the beginning, it is often the little things of life that matter most, the ways we work and love and play, the ways we relate to people, and the manner in which we spend our days as well as our money.  These things we can affect.  We do not have to accept them as they are.  The Age of Unreason is inevitably going to be something of an exploration, but exploring is at the heart of learning, and of changing and of growing.  This is what I believe, and this is what gives me hope."

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