“Everything is design. Everything.” — Paul Rand (1914–1996)
Paul Rand is behind so many stories this series has covered. The Olivetti Valentine typewriter designed by Ettore Sottsass and used by Dieter Rams in his documentary? Paul Rand did Olivetti’s US advertising. Speaking of Deiter Rams, the Braun shavers that made Rams famous? Paul Rand bought every model. (Though Rand once said he would “buy just for their beauty and then put them in a drawer.”) IDEO, the birthplace of design thinking? Paul Rand did IDEO’s logo. He collaborated on a team with Charles Eames on IBM’s Design Program. I like to think some of that work was in the IBM plaza building that Ludwig Mies van der Rohe designed. The building, by the way, sported the iconic IBM logo which was, you guessed it, designed by Paul Rand.
Paul Rand was instrumental in creating the culture and discipline of graphic design. He taught the next generation at Yale from 1956 to 1985, with a break in the 1970s. Rand was visiting professor and critic at a number of other institutions. Check out the book Paul Rand: Conversations with Students for a view into that work. “What is design?” Paul would often ask. When he wasn’t creating, Rand was instructing, and through instruction, he was creating culture.
Like Paul Rand fostered designers who brought ideas to wider audiences, security leaders need to foster advocates who will bring security ideas to the wider workforce.
We don’t talk much about advocates. A security advocate is a member of the security team who focuses on getting practices into the hands of the workforce. It’s more common for us to talk about security champions. A security champion is a member of the business itself, who collaborates with the security team on best practices. A fully fleshed out security capability has advocates working with champions to interpret and implement security controls. In a well-run security capability, those controls will be usable and widely adopted, because of the partnership of advocates and champions.
To learn more about cyber security advocates and what they need to succeed, check out the “It’s Scary…It’s Confusing…It’s Dull” research paper. These professionals “advocate for systems and policies that are usable, minimize requisite knowledge, and compensate for the inevitability of user error.”
Here are four practices from Paul Rand that we can apply to designing a security advocacy program:
(1) Coach on tangible work, not abstract principles. Rand’s courses were practical not theoretical, with advice given based on the student’s work. He focused stories, literature, examples, and more through the lens of the work at hand.
(2) Coach one-on-one, avoid one size fits all. Paul Rand worked individually with students, and a session on their work “went on as long as was necessary to set the student on the right track and was laced with stories from Paul’s vast career as they were appropriate to the issue at hand. When he worked with students, he poured his heart and soul into it.”
(3) Use short cycle times. Typically, the criticism on individual work in Rand’s courses came weekly. Feedback was quick, specific, and direct. Compare this to many security programs where manager feedback comes at annual reviews.
(4) Encourage personalization. Rand taught designers to build their own set of techniques, their own visual vocabulary, to solve problems. That’s not for the sake of originality. “Don’t try to be original,” Rand often said, “just try to be good.” It’s to develop a sense of the designer’s personal needs and strengths and how to mesh those with the audience’s instincts and intuitions.
When designing a cyber security program, give thought into how leadership will coach advocates. Give thought to how advocates will cultivate security champions. With a nod to Paul Rand, prompt both with a deceptively simple question. “What is security?”
This article is part of a series on designing cyber security capabilities. To see other articles in the series, including a full list of design principles, click here.Posted by