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  • Writer's pictureMichael Padilla-Pagan Pay

A Strategic mind , is a great mind!

The emerging global security environment will challenge private security and risk companies in many new ways, some of which can be foreseen today, and some that are well beyond our grasp at the moment. The future requirements for support will likely expect companies to adapt in a rapidly changing security environment, one where the traditional levels of problems may become increasingly interconnected, interweaved, and their lines blurred. In this environment, every member of the team should understand the strategic ramifications of his or her actions, and every leader should ensure every plan, order, and directive contributes to a realistic and clear strategic goal. Simply put, the company must be tactically credible and operationally capable, and also more strategically aware that it is today. In essence, the people in the Risk Management and Security fields will need to see the forest without overlooking the trees and look at the trees without losing track of the forest. How can you ensure that the bigger, strategic picture is served by the short term tactical and operational tasks? How can you translate the bigger strategic picture into concrete, well-planned, well executed actions and tasks?

We, at Al Thuraya Consultancy, work with our teams continuously in order to highlight the importance of formulating their own strategic mindset today, so they can have the leaders needed to address the challenges of the future. By building a mindset early, perhaps as early as Security basic training, we see value in building leaders who can address novel circumstances, understand complex adaptive problems, and understand the implications of their actions, learn to take the responsibility, along with the authority. Customers expect a certain level of ability relating to security and risk companies. They expect them to be able to solve issues and to act in accordance of the legal framework; they should also expect the young leaders of today to develop into strategic thinkers and expert practitioners, learning and practicing a strategic mindset, for the years to come.

A mindset need not be aimed just at the highest levels; it could benefit all personnel within the company. If a private security and risk company can adopt the right mindset, it creates more than the so-called strategic corporals; it will also create a strategically aware team that can better deal with challenges and capitalize on opportunities in unique ways.


A mindset is a mental attitude or inclination. And, as we all know, attitudes ultimately shape actions. I can speak of my own experience in my past life in the military, but also how we work with our team and corporate staff, as every person has a unique mindset shaping the way they solve problems. Psychologists often assert a person’s mindset is, in general, either fixed or growth oriented. Where a fixed mindset is one where a person feels their intelligence, personality, and abilities are set traits, a growth mindset assumes they are continually growing and changing over time. A person with a growth mindset tends to embrace challenges, persist in the face of setbacks, learn from criticism, and find inspiration in others. We see that the big idea here is this: if a person has the right mindset, he or she will approach problems with an attitude and traits leading them to a greater likelihood of finding an optimal solution.

There are several good reasons why taking a mindset-based approach to strategy for your staff and teams is advantageous to teaching strategy across a large organization. First, the amount of knowledge comprising the field of strategy has an immense depth and breadth. It encompasses diverse fields such as history, international relations, cultural, sociology, operational art, intelligence, psychology, political science and many others. Unlike a so-called hard science, it is up for interpretation and debate, and a definition is elusive. Next, attempts to build models for strategic thinking are important but can be dangerous, as any model carries with its hidden assumptions a competent adversary can pick apart. Additionally, most strategic-level problems are novel occurrences that have never happened the same way before and will never unfold the same way again. Finally, strategic-level problems involve complex adaptive systems, and once addressed give birth to new conditions resulting in future problems, requiring open and adaptive strategists. You cannot teach people the ultimate solutions for each problem, nor can you anticipate all potential problems; but you can empower people with the right mindset, to be able to grow, adapt and excel on a corporate and professional level. Get the people with the right attitude in the right positions, and the right actions will follow. Knowledge alone, even with experience, cannot guarantee results, if the right attitude is missing. 

By adopting a strategic mindset approach, companies in our field can not only support our corporate team but our people in the field. They do not learn what to think, nor how to think, rather how to approach thinking about issues of strategic significance. The underlying assumption being, if a person adopts the right frame of mind, they will seek out the information they need and uncover the best solution for themselves. This does not negate the need for strategic leaders, or strategic thinkers. Rather, it empowers companies and its people to become more strategically aware and able to deal with whatever the future may bring. Lead from the bottom up, allowing each person a strategic glimpse and mindset that can carry them over the daily setbacks and promote further and progressive thinking, adaptability and self-motivation.

And so, I challenge the Industry of security and risk providers of the future, to affect the future guard, or watchman, Intel analyst or accountant to set the foundation basis for flexible development and mindset today. This mindset training need not be an intensive or costly requirement, only modification of training objectives and discussing it with staff. The importance of mindset should also be emphasized throughout professional education at all levels to help reinforce these ideas throughout the company. No change in a large organization is easy, and it will take decades for strategic leaders to fully mature. Working to impart this mindset now, however, will likely pay dividends on the regions, lands and communities of the future. Nurture them today, and yield the results in the future, even under the most adverse of circumstances.

Without the right mindset, even the most tactically competent company becomes vulnerable to strategic missteps, and, in the worst case, strategic defeat. Although we can never predict the future with perfect accuracy, we can benefit by trying to understand the parameters and to build a mindset in the company that will help the future leaders address the challenges they will likely face as well as the communities that we work in and or support. See the trees, see the forest, see the region, see the globe. Limits were -after all- meant to be broken, as we shape and encounter a brave, new world.

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