By Ray Vazquez on September 13, 2021

The final book in our Summer Book Series is Uncommon Service by Frances Frei and Anne Morriss. In the first book, Our Iceberg is Melting, we learned the eight-step process for leading change. Our second book, Switch, explained how to find and leverage the bright spots in an organization. Now, Uncommon Service tells us how to be successful—build around the people you have. Let’s examine the authors’ four universal truths for delivering uncommon service and discuss how they apply to our industry.

You can’t be good at everything. The authors make the case that striving for all-around excellence leads directly to mediocrity. For us, this is really a risk appetite discussion. Does your organization want to try to be great at everything at the risk of being mediocre or even worse? In organizations today, this conversation really isn’t discussed enough. The case can be made that you’ll never get all the funding you need to make every aspect of cybersecurity great. You’ll have to decide what you won’t be good at and don’t apologize for it. That’s key tenet number one.

Someone has to pay for it. This is their second universal truth. The authors point out that great service must be funded, or you risk giving it away. We’ve discovered that every organization complains about not having enough funding for its cybersecurity initiatives. However, if your customers expect to be protected by great security, they have to pay for it. Knowing the dollar amount of your company’s product that actually goes to funding its cybersecurity is key to getting your share of those funds. It becomes a much easier conversation to have with the CFO if you can state the cybersecurity cost of every product sold. If you’re able to do this, you’ll have a much better chance of having your cybersecurity budget funded.

It’s not your employees’ fault. Frei and Morriss deflect the blame many organizations put on their employees for flaws in a company’s service models. They describe how it’s best to design a new model that sets current employees up for success. A prime example of this when it comes to cybersecurity is when employees click on phishing emails that result in a ransomware attack. Often, they’re blamed for not recognizing the phishing email as an attack. But the reality is it’s the fault of the organization for not designing a solution that keeps the phishing email from even reaching employees in the first place.

You must manage your customers. The last universal truth the authors describe is based on customers being major players in any service experience. They make the point that you and your customers must work together to deliver great service. A prime cybersecurity example is when customers sometimes want you to break certain controls and create loopholes. It happens also when an internal customer may want you to bend the rules to hit a deadline. This universal truth highlights the importance in cybersecurity of managing and training your customers.

To learn more about Uncommon Service and the four universal truths, visit uncommonservice.com, where Frances Frei and Anne Morriss dive deep into the strategies and principles found in the book.

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