I’m a professional problem solver. Not in the cool guy, action movie sense. But in the most literal sense of the words. I used to make my living in Executive Protection. I have worked in every environment, from high-net-worth corporate clients in the US, to low profile high threat clients overseas. Regardless of the environment or threat level, the principles of protection remain the same. In fact, these principles do not apply solely to EP Agents, they apply to everyone, everywhere, every day.
When I wasn’t working details I taught for a reputable executive protection program. Something I always asked my students was, “what are we” or “what do we really do”? I always got a range of answers: from “protectors” and “security specialists” to “glorified babysitters”. These answers are not wrong, necessarily, but they are not complete. After they've answered I always give them my answer, Professional Problem Solver. Regardless of what detail you are working, be it static or mobile, high threat or low threat, in Santa Monica or Kabul, you need to be a professional problem solver. CLICK BELOW TO READ MORE
Here’s an example; let’s say you are a solo agent working a high profile client in Los Angeles. Just before your client steps in for a day of meetings, they tell you they need their dry cleaning picked up before an important dinner tonight. Well that’s not your job, right? Wrong. It isn’t your job, but it is your responsibility. But you can't just leave the client, either. If something happened when you were gone, or they needed to go somewhere, you’re fucked. So what can you do? One option might be to call a ride share or errand service. In the world of apps and the gig economy, there a ton of these. Pay them whatever the ride costs plus $20 or whatever and get it done. That is problem solving. It may not be the best solution, and it certainly isn’t sexy, but it will get the job done efficiently and without you being pulled off detail. This same mentality applies to the agent on a mobile team in some sandy corner of the globe. If your limo (client’s vehicle) is hit in a near ambush, you must problem solve your way out of it. Of course, there are SOPs and TTPs but there’s always something more you can do. We should always be looking for "Work". Remember, it may not be our job, but everything is our responsibility.
Occam's Razor is a principle that I like to get into when having these discussions with students. The simplest answer is generally the best. That’s not to say that the simple answer is always the right one, I don’t believe in absolutes, but the less moving parts our solution has, the less of a chance something goes wrong. It may seem like a simple concept to understand, but anyone who’s has ever been a part of a planning cycle, be it a military operation or a birthday party, can attest to someone trying to make something more complicated than it needs to be. We need to make the right decision, quickly.
So how do we improve our decision making skills, without intentionally putting ourselves in shit situations? There are a ton of ways, but it’s hard to beat mental rehearsals. Something I like to do is imagine a problem, then mentally work through it. Use a pen and paper. Now here is the trick. First, you have to be honest with yourself, know your limits and skill sets. Don’t put yourself in the middle of a bank with armed robbers and a bomb you have to defuse. That’s not realistic. I mean I guess it could happen but... Start simple. Imagine all of the possible solutions and their consequences. Look for the weak points and where it will fail. See if there are any hidden second or third order effects of what you choose. This is why honesty is important. If it doesn’t work, pick another solution and start the problem over. You could do the same thing with a friend, come up with a problem, figure out a solution then rip it to pieces. At the end of this process, you have trained yourself to make the correct decision, decisively. If you keep your problems realistic, you will also begin to build a bank of solutions for problems that may come up in the future.
I could go on and on about my thoughts on this subjects and we will, but for now I just wanted to scratch the surface. Let me know your thoughts or ideas on this subject.