April 24, 2017
I have a huge German Shepherd that ranks only slightly behind my human children when it comes to being spoiled and how much attention he gets. I’ve been working on training him for nearly a year now, and he amazes me with how intelligent he is. He knows all the basics: sit, stay, here, lay down, etc. But he also picked up detecting scents very quickly and is learning to detect things with his nose that I can’t even see with my eyes. And he does all of these things faster than most kids learn to break the Netflix password.
The other day, working with him on his training points, I thought to myself, “Woah, my dog speaks human.” Not just English either. He speaks German (that’s the language he's trained in), and he totally understands it. I realized the problem is that I don't speak “Dog.” My dog knows about 30 human words, and they are words in a language his master has no business trying to pronounce, mind you. But he knows what those words mean, and he gets the tasking or request down every time they're uttered. He could look at me for an hour and bark, growl, howl, yip, or yelp constantly, and he could be telling me the cure for cancer and I wouldn’t know it.
OK that’s interesting, but what does it have to do with better communication among techies?
This same scenario is what I see playing out in the security space daily, in almost every SOC or NOC that I visit. There are a bunch of techies speaking dog to each other, and they all get it. Every bark, yip, or yelp is clearly communicated within their pack, and the pack knows how to respond. It’s when the “masters” or the “alphas” from another pack (the non-tech leadership) come in and start trying to converse with the pack members that things quickly get lost in translation. To put it simply, they’re like me: they don't speak Dog. They can imitate the sounds and try and include themselves in the pack howling sessions, but no matter how hard they try, they won't ever really speak Dog. At best, they’ll sound like a distant coyote, wailing in protest as they want their words to be understood.
The point here being that one of the most critical things that has to happen for a CISO or tech leader to be effective for their NOC or SOC team is true communication, but the majority of the time they don’t speak the words needed in the way the pack needs for their orders to be received. The pack may have a basic understanding of what the alpha is asking for (usually deciphered via the feverish pointing and teeth-gnashing), but they don't really get what he or she is saying and why it matters. In order to have better and more effective communications within these groups, teams must have someone that can speak both the alphas’ business speak and the pack’s native language.
Every organization needs someone that can learn to speak Dog, and speak it fluently. Once that skill is mastered, it’s amazing how effectively things get done. Maybe things could almost be done as well as a German Shepherd on a scent trail.