CISO, Do you seek Power, Dominance or Excellence?

“I assure you that I had rather excel others in the knowledge of what is excellent, than in the extent of my power and domination.” – Alexander the Great

First, write down on a blank sheet of paper what your concept of “excellence” means to you as a CISO.

Now read that definition you just wrote out loud so you can hear your words. It is important to hear with ears and not only the mind.

Now write down if you think your direct reports would agree. Then write down if you think your peers would agree. Then write down if the employees in the marketing department accept.

In your next staff meeting as your staff, what is the dominant view of excellence in the work they do? Then ask your staff what is the view of excellence by the entire Technology department. And then have them write down what they think the sales and marketing people would say is excellence. Collect the answers and look for where the constraints can be found. Look for the cause/effect in what they wrote. Now ask yourself is excellence a symptom of mindset, the results of acts and beliefs or are excellence a lifestyle which is dominant in the entire organization and not just a single department.

I am going to improvise a verse from the Rolling Stones.

“I can’t get no excellence, I can’t get no excellence
‘Cause I try and I try, and I try, and I try
I can’t get no, I can’t get no”

Are you looking for excellence in all the wrong places?

Now in all the answers including yours look for the patterns. Is winning equal to excellence? Is excellence beating the enemy? Is excellence focused on individuals or groups or teams? Do you see any patterns between competitive and personal excellence? Is there a pattern that may reflect that excellence is a form of superiority?

Now here comes the Humanities to intersect with the data science .  The Cognitive CISO will see a pattern of excellence which consists of self-improvement commonly called ‘growth‘ as the desired goal of the department or organization. It is the ‘higher state of performance’ that is sought after not in a competitive manner. That state of ‘growth‘ the ‘higher state of performance‘ is not an inwardly directed activity but a broader activity more in line with the entire enterprise.

This is tough for the CISO. Why? The nature of the work tends to be ‘war oriented.’ We fight the good fight, we win the battle is often the mindset. What happens when we take our cybersecurity, our privacy practices and turn them from being self-centered to self-giving thereby self-fulling? Joseph Roux once said, “It is a very rare thing for a man of talent to succeed by his talent.”

The Cognitive CISO works at understanding the difference and the difference it makes.

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