While I was in the military, dealing with complex international crises was the order of the day. We used a planning technique developed by the Israeli Defense Force and championed by the U.S. Special Operations Command, Operational Design. The concept of Operational Design uses the skills and techniques of design thinking to plan complex operations. These operations often require novel approaches to so-called “wicked problems”. Using problem framing techniques and tools, our planners often came up with plans and operations that would not have been possible using traditional methods. The same tools used in Operational Design can be a powerful method for organizations to develop a comprehensive cyber security strategy to deal with today’s complex cyber landscape.
Cyber Security today is a total business problem, not just an issue for the IT department. Today’s solutions need to touch organizational policy, corporate culture and awareness, business systems, among other areas. It is a solution that requires a multi-dimensional view. Almost every aspect of a 21st century organization relies on or touches cyber space and is therefore potentially exposed to cyber risk. Understanding the complex cyber situation in an organization and the impacts each business center has on the overall company is no small undertaking. This complexity demands a method to properly frame the problem and come up with comprehensive approaches to organizational cyber security strategy.
Operational Design provides an opportunity to spot critical intersections and develop an organizational concept that can be flexible and adapt to the cyber landscape. Using design methods, a more balance approach can be identified and implemented, one that takes into account all aspects of business.
By employing Operational Design, companies can develop cyber security approaches that reduce situational complexity, thereby increasing the company’s resilience. Through this design, businesses can frame the problem correctly, ID critical infrastructure and processes, analyze threats and help define the interdependencies and relationships in organizations. These insights and levels understanding allow companies to make informed decisions in day-to-day operations as well as during cyber security incidents. Making the right decisions at the right time helps to reduce the impact of the incident and keeps organizations up and running.
While most individual businesses may not deal within crises on an international level, it is the untreated cyber security vulnerabilities within any business that can lead to a crisis that will affect the entire organization. Operational Design allows companies to be best prepared to operate in the complex cyber landscape while preserving organizational structure and remain adaptive to future cyber threats.
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