Canadian Security Magazine

Critical self-examination necessary for growth

By Glen Kitteringham   

Features Opinion

I believe that a key element in the upward development of any entity, be it an individual or organization, is the ability to take a hard, objective look at itself to determine its strengths and weaknesses with the intent to grow and mature. For that entity, it is also a good exercise to help it see how others view it, which may not necessarily be how it views itself. Of particular importance is the ability to identify weaknesses in order to correct them (if possible) and to capitalize on its strengths.

Fundamentally, what I am talking about is the ability of the entity to conduct a risk assessment on itself but with the goal of moving the assessment beyond the security context. The entity’s security is important, but other issues are equally important. Here, personal growth and professionalization come into play. From a personal perspective, being able to identify weaknesses in oneself is the start of growth, but only if the person wishes to do something about that weakness. This is akin to an organization that identifies vulnerabilities and must decide whether to address them or not.

Are these entities comfortable with the status quo, or do they desire to improve themselves and, in the long run, service their constituents? Providing a higher level of service to the employer or clients and meeting the needs of an organization’s members are just two benefits that can come about from critical self-examination.

Critical self-examination is central to the process of professionalization because it is a primary factor in taking a security practitioner or organization to the next step in their growth. Without the ability to challenge and question oneself or members of the security group, how can new ideas and concepts be created, disseminated and either be discarded or become accepted? The ability to question and challenge the status quo within oneself and the security industry as a whole is necessary.

For an organization to conduct a security risk assessment, this is not only seen as desirable but required for the development of a comprehensive security management program. There is no shame in identifying organizational weaknesses or vulnerabilities, yet when we challenge individuals or institutions to conduct this same self-assessment with the intent of overall improvement, suddenly some practitioners get very uncomfortable.


Over the years, I have come into contact with people working in the security industry who shy away from critical self-examination. If I had to guess, I would suggest that their identities are so closely connected with their positions that to question their concepts of training, education, experience or knowledge in the security field seems to challenge their very existence. I hope this is not the case.

However, I am also happy to report that I have witnessed real professional growth and development in both individuals and security organizations that, when the issue of self-examination was initially brought up, they immediately rejected it.

The signs of critical self-assessment are around us; it is in the growth of security training and development programs, as many in the security industry recognize that they want or need formal training. It can also be seen in the growth of the more successful security organizations. I believe that those entities that refuse to engage in self-assessment — along with any subsequent growth — will stagnate and eventually die. They will simply be unable to provide the kind of expertise and services necessary for success in today’s world.  

Glen Kitteringham, M.Sc., CPP, F.SyI. is president of Kitteringham Security Group.

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