Don’t Forbid Employees From Using The Escalator, Give Them Reasons To Use The Stairs

Guest post from Researcher Nick Hayes.

If you had to go up one level in a train station, would you take the stairs or use the escalator? Most people would choose the escalator. But what if the staircase played musical notes like an interactive piano? This may change things, right? A couple of years ago, Volkswagen began sponsoring an initiative called The Fun Theory that tested the degree to which they could change people’s behavior for the better by introducing an element of fun. In one example, they found that by adding a unique element to the stairs – transforming it into an interactive piano – they were able to increase staircase use by 66%. You can watch the short video here.

You can apply this same principle to your training and awareness programs -- find your own piano staircase, and use it to begin guiding people to choose the right thing on their own. Chris and I have been working on a report that stresses the importance of organizational culture in the development of risk and compliance programs. Throughout the research process, we asked risk and compliance professionals and vendors in the space the same question: “How are you influencing and promoting positive behavior?”

You can create new technical controls and policies, and you can require employees to sign attestations all day, but these efforts have minimal value (or worse) when there’s no positive reinforcement. When compliance and risk management are considered obligatory tasks, rather than meaningful efforts that the company values, it diminishes the perceived importance of ethical behavior.

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Lies, Damn Lies, Security Metrics, And Baseball

The legendary British Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli is said to have noted that “There are lies, damn lies, and statistics.” Much of the technology world is focused on statistics and metrics. You’ve often heard it said, “If I can’t measure it, it doesn’t exist.” Known as the McNamara fallacy — named after the business tycoon turned Vietnam-era Secretary of Defense — this famous idea failed miserably as a strategy. While it sounds good to the CEO’s ears, there is a corollary bubbling up below him that implicitly states that “If my boss wants to measure something that doesn’t exist, then I’ll invent it!”

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