Why protecting your company will lead to impeccable growth, admirable performance, and enviable reputation.
I’ll never forget my first course on criminal risk management. It was at the beginning of my MBA program at one of the top tier European business schools: EDHEC. My classmates and I were excited by the “crime” aspect but found ourselves wondering how it would relate to developing a business profitably. After all, criminal risk management does not generate profit; even worse it adds costs in the balance sheet.
Furthermore, like many executives, I have often perceived the security department as a spoilsport, thinking that the mindset of preventing all risks was an obstacle to a business that must take risks to stay ahead of the competition.
That class was a wakeup call that dramatically changed my professional life. Punctuated by recent highly-publicized business scandals and attacks, I had clear proof that if a company ignores the problems and potential risks they face in this increasingly volatile and complex world, then there’s a much greater chance they will become a victim and jeopardize their growth efforts.
That’s why, as a head of strategy obsessed with companies’ preservation and growth, I want to play my part in protecting your business. Below are three steps to help you get started building an effective growth protection strategy.
Transform Challenges Into Opportunities
Criminal risk can be seen as a difficult and uncomfortable subject for leaders. Who wants to think about losses and disruption? Who wants to assess whether their company (or they themselves) are doing something wrong?
Plus, criminal risk is hard to define and even harder to identify. Far from an unambiguous line, it is defined by any illegal act or any form of behavior seen as unethical by consumers and stakeholders. Hunting that down is tough work—it can seem easier to just cross your fingers and hope for the best.
But the answer is never to let things be as they are. Great leaders are recognized by their fundamental belief that—no matter the circumstances—there is always something they can do to have an impact. Criminal risks don’t appear by chance. They are the results of a company’s actions, which means that the likelihood of suffering the consequences of business crime is determined by the way companies protect their business and by the choices, they make on daily basis.
Instead of seeing possible unwelcoming events as a curse, choosing to take ownership of the future and to develop awareness is essential to succeed.
Assess All Vulnerabilities
Identifying company’s weaknesses and vulnerabilities–and recognizing the opportunity to strengthen them–is crucial in overcoming challenges.
To do so, you first have to define the nature of what you are protecting and its value. Then, you need to identify the type of threat faced as well as the type of perpetrators you can expect. Finally, you need to imagine what could possibly go wrong.
It is uncomfortable, but it is the only way to assess risk, predict the unpredictable, and create the best solutions to protect, mitigate, and fight back.
Growth protection is about thriving, not just surviving; continuing to pursue your company’s goals in the face of challenges. By reframing challenges as opportunities and learning from your vulnerabilities, you prepare your company to face those challenges in the most profitable way that you can imagine.
Build on Resources
People are at the core of criminal risk and growth protection. Criminal attacks are man-made—sometimes even perpetrated by people within your company—but people are also the solution.
Your growth protection strategy must not be reduced to complex security procedures and operational algorithms, but instead thoughtfully integrate the company’s most important investment: its people. By creating a healthy culture where your employees feel like they belong and are protected, your employees are more likely to protect the company in turn.
Awareness, ethical behavior, safety, resilience are the core values of growth protection. They work like superpowers, increasing abilities, creating greater success, improving the quality of work, and making business safer and more effective.
Improvement Begins With I
In a world where disruption is a fact of life and uncertainty is guaranteed, the success of a company is determined by the challenges they face, how those challenges weigh on their vulnerabilities, and the strengths they can draw on to face those challenges. Protecting your company will lead to impeccable growth, admirable performance, and an enviable reputation.
Bill Watterson said, “the problem with the future is that it keeps turning into the present.” It is time to recognize that the worst possible futures could become a reality and to start proactively protecting against them.
Read the Defense Dividend
Want to go deeper into building a successful growth protection strategy? Check out the Defense Dividend, in which I created a framework to help companies easily filter and mitigate their economic criminal risks.