Al McDougall from Evolutionary Security Management made the following point in response to my last post, and I thought it was useful to repeat it here:

“End result, the system view is lost because everybody works within their part of the behemoth but forgets about the mission.”

He’s right, of course. Furthermore: “Mission oriented” sounds “fuzzy” and people tend to blow it off, but it’s is not – it’s quite important.  In western culture, we seem to need to rush to go solve problems, without really ever trying to understand the nature of what we’re solving. This leads to all sorts of mayhem and things going wrong. We look back and can’t figure out why our solutions arent working or why they’re causing all these weird other problems.

What we need to do, instead, is spend our time groking the problems we’re wrestling with until we understand their deeper natures.  If we learn to ask sufficiently detailed questions, correct elegant answers will present themselves.  This, in many respects, is the essence of SABSA and Enterprise Architecture (although, especially in the case of the latter, an essence that is often missed).

In the case of cyber security, we absolutely blow past figuring out and AGREEING ON the nature of the problem and rush straight to the “solving” phase with perfectly predictable results.

My compatriots at TSA are asking me to, before I depart for INL,  transition my approach to the role of the SSA in the NIPP framework, but it really isn’t detailed or special. Fundamentally it is this: Figure out ahead of time what you’re asking and why. What is the mission being supported by cyber systems? What do you need to know to make sure those cyber systems continue to enable that mission? Start from the mission and work down. You’ll get there.

Hmm. Start somewhere and finish? That sounds like “Alice and Wonderland” – “start at the beginning and, when you get to the end, stop” – but it also sounds like a “process”. A “process” is what the NIPP lacks, yes? More to come…

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