The Security Evolution Continues

As I approached the start of the ASIS International 55th Annual Seminar and Exhibits, I could not help but reflect on all that we have accomplished in the past 36 years that I have been a member of this profession. I also juxtapose all of this with what we have accomplished toward our strategic objectives so far in 2009, as I enter into the last quarter of my year of stewardship for this great organization, and the many challenges and opportunities that are present for us all.

I am struck first by the commitment of the security professionals that is evidenced every day in an effort to protect the people, places and products for which we are responsible. I also marvel at the adaptability and drive toward excellence that has brought us to this point and which will undoubtedly continue to move us toward products, services and best practices that none or few of us envision at this time. That has been our history.

We have evolved from the age of “door rattlers” with a mentality of “guns, gates and guards” to one of “badges, bytes and beans,” to quote Ray O’Hara, CPP, and Tim Williams, CPP, from their discussion as we moved into the area of convergence.

I would once again like to review the significant changes that our profession underwent as a result of 9/11 and how that currently drives our efforts. This single event was a wake-up call on many levels and forced a recognition that the status quo was no longer acceptable. For the ASIS membership, it impacted how we saw our role as leaders in the profession. We added onto our core of providing exceptional educational, professional development and networking opportunities in a somewhat passive manner to the realization that we needed to be out front in a positive, proactive manner. As a result, we changed our position and approach to certain key areas, such as:

Public Policy: While ASIS had occasionally entered the world of politics, for the majority of our history we shied away from taking positions, much less driving debate about legislation and/or regulation that impacted our lives. We more recently realized that regulation and laws would be written with or without us. Consequently, we now have a meaningful presence on Capitol Hill and a mechanism to have meaningful impact through both the ASISPAC, and a more robust legislative liaison and monitoring function on the chapter, state and local levels.

Guidelines and Standards: Similar to Public Policy, this is an area that many (myself included) needed to be dragged into kicking and screaming. We have matured so well and so quickly that it is hard to believe that this has not been a core functional area of ours for decades, rather than just a few short years. This is owing in large part to the leadership and dedication of Mark Geraci, CPP, and Dr. Marc Siegel, who have taken us from “zero to 60” in record time. We learned that we could no longer be passive observers in these areas, lest we end up simply administering to the will and insights of others. We can be proud that we are now the lead security standards writing body in the world!

A Recommitment to the Senior Professional: As our profession matured, we were perhaps a bit slow at realizing that the offerings we had for more senior security executives were not keeping pace with their needs. Because of the efforts and leadership of Don Walker, CPP, Regis Becker, CPP, and others, the CSO Roundtable was formed and is flourishing. The many offerings found therein do and will continue to provide needed member benefits to this member target audience, one far too valuable and needed if we are to continue our growth and maturation.

Ongoing Globalization Efforts: Events show each day that we as a profession are much more connected around the world than we may have previously realized. Whether it is through geographically specific conferences such as are now held in Europe, Asia–Pacific, or the newest one scheduled for the Middle East, or work being done on the world stage through standards writing, it is obvious that we are in this together. Issues such as supply chain security, providing security for events such as the Olympics and World Trade Organization meetings, or executive travel have forced us to find ways to collaborate across borders. We will need to face the many challenges that this presents, including barriers presented by language, laws and, in some cases, simply custom.

Organizational Partnering: Through the recently created International Security Risk Management Consortium, ASIS has taken a lead in looking for viable and effective ways to both identify and partner with like-minded organizations which have overlapping interests, and with whom we may create alliances and produce deliverables to members of both organizations in a cost-effective manner. Economic realities and resource constraints demand that we take a more collaborative, less competitive approach to problem solving and not attempt to be all things to all members. This is an area in which I see much change and many moving pieces as each potential partner assesses its level of interest and defines its objectives.

As I noted in my introductory remarks to the ASIS volunteer leaders in January, I look upon ASIS as an organization that has consistency of purpose (serving its members’ needs) and has developed into a high-reliability organization, one which can be counted on to deliver high-quality products and services to the members in a forward thinking and deliberate manner. This has been our history as displayed by the many pioneer leaders from our past, and I have no doubt will be continued well into the future by successive generations of committed professionals! This is our history and our future.

Michael Cummings is Director of Loss Prevention Services for Aurora Health Care in Milwaukee, and is the current president of ASIS International. He is also a Senior Member of the International Association for Healthcare Safety and Security (IAHSS). Mr. Cummings received his CPP designation in 1986.