Let’s face it. There will always be some type of occasional work that is distracting for a cyber security program. Your job as a cyber leader is to reduce the amount of those distractions.
You have a number of levers to pull to successfully accomplish a reduction in distracting work
Your Plan: This is your context for everything that you want to accomplish. Your plan is your story, your timeline, and your desired end state. Your cyber security plan needs to be aligned to the company’s strategic plan. A lack of a plan is a vacuum but a plan that isn't aligned to corporate goals can be a vacuum as well. A good indicator that you don’t have an enduring plan is that distracting work constantly fills what is perceived by others to be a vacuum.
Your Prioritization: This is the order of the important things that need to be done in order to accomplish your plan and, by extension, corportae goals. Since the plan is aligned to the company’s priorities, your priorities should also be aligned with them as well. Every new item of work should be analyzed against your priorities and appropriately put into your work plan. Work that is in your priorities needs to be done before work that isn't. Simple.
Your Team’s Execution: This is the measure of confidence that your team will get things done on the timeline that you scoped in your plan. It’s a mix of your ability to scope and the team’s ability to complete work to that scope within the planned time. When work items linger because of poor execution to the point that you can’t finish your old work items before new items put pressure on your team and priorities, the opportunity for distracting work increases substantially.
Your Expectation Setting: When you properly set expectations with execs, they understand your plan, priorities, and level of confidence in your team’s execution. Set expectations correctly and you start to build trust that you take new work, correctly prioritize that work in your plan, and ultimately get the work done. If you don’t have that trust, the probability is far higher that the executives will just try to drive the work onto the top of your priorities.
Expectation setting also is a measure of your ability to share your focus on the right things to do to be successful. If your priorities are aligned with the company strategy, pushback becomes relatively easy. You can demonstrate how the distracting work detracts from your journey to support the company.
Your Reporting: This is where you demonstrate how close your team’s execution is to the expectations that you previously set. Reporting is also where you can demonstrate the value of work and how it furthers your company strategy after it is complete.
So, you have five levers to reduce distracting work. Four of the five depend on you as a cyber leader.
You know, actually having to lead.
Your team is depending on you.
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