How many times have you seen companies place “Able to think outside of the box” in their job description, or executive protection agents list this term as a skill in their resume? Thousands of times! The question is, can you actually think outside of the box? Do you imagine the unimaginable? Can you see solutions where others only see problems?
According to the Cambridge Dictionary, thinking outside of the box means ‘’to think imaginatively using new ideas instead of traditional or expected ideas’’. And according to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, it means ‘’to explore ideas that are creative and unusual and that are not limited or controlled by rules or tradition’’. We can find that there are plenty of definitions with similarities, and it is considered a “skill” in many professional industries, one that is particularly hard sought after by corporations for their upper management staff.
When we approach this from the #executiveprotection industry, "think outside of the box" is a metaphorical expression that means to approach a problem or situation in a creative, innovative, and unconventional way. In simple words, be able to think beyond the usual or traditional constraints, rules, limitations, or training that are commonly accepted or imposed in a particular context. The phrase "the box" represents the established boundaries or conventional thinking patterns that people often operate within and the training they have received from various schools. When someone is encouraged to "think outside of the box," they are being prompted to break away from these usual patterns of thought and consider alternative solutions or perspectives that may not have been considered before. Ones that offer significant solutions to unique problems.
Thinking outside of the box for an executive protection agent means approaching the task of protecting the client in a manner that goes beyond conventional methods and strategies, very often outside the norm. There are so many traditional ways to approach scenarios and while the primary goal of an EP agent is always to ensure the #safety and #security of the client, thinking outside of the box allows them to be more proactive, adaptable, and creative in their approach.
Some interesting Synonyms one will find for thinking outside of the box are:
pull a rabbit out of a hat.
rise to the challenge.
square the circle.
Now we’re sure that as an EP agent, there have been many moments in your career when you have had to ‘’pull a rabbit out of a hat’’, “rise to the challenge’’ or ‘’square the circle’’. Clients, protective details’ needs and circumstances can change within seconds and if you are not on your toes and a quick thinker, you won’t be able to solve problems, and you won’t have longevity in this industry.
For example, there are many colleagues who will, no matter what they face or where they are, practice the same #protective methods. They’ve learned something on a training course, and they will try to apply it in their professional life without wondering if that specific thing is even suitable to their specific situations, clientele, or specific environment. As we always love to observe people, we once saw a solo EP agent who was escorting his client in downtown Athens, Greece. The agent was staying about a meter back from his client, off to his side, but as they were approaching a building, he kept himself in the same position, now putting himself between the wall and his client! The wall poses no threat to his client so why didn’t he place himself on the other side (the most vulnerable one near the street)? Because he wasn’t taught that.
What people fail to understand is that during a class you will learn the very basic concepts and probably 10 scenarios. But real life has 10,000 different scenarios and requires you to be able to think and swiftly react within seconds. A protective detail is like a living organism, and it changes and mutates constantly, and you have to adapt your methods according to the needs and environment.
Although, as we mentioned earlier, while thinking outside of the box is a valuable skill in many fields, including business, science, arts, and everyday life, it is vital for executive protection agents, especially considering you can not micromanage someone in this kind of job. Thinking outside of the box will equip EP agents with the mindset and skills needed to excel at their Craft. By combining traditional #securitypractices with #creativethinking, they can provide a higher level of protection and maintain a competitive edge in the ever-evolving #securityindustry.
Here are some examples of where EP agents must think outside of the box:
Risk Assessment: Instead of solely relying on standard #security #protocols, different risk platforms, and risk matrix, an EP agent who thinks outside of the box will conduct a thorough #riskassessment specific to their client's unique circumstances, which will allow them to identify potential vulnerabilities and tailor their security measures accordingly (we was vastly disappointed when we received an #RTVA from a very reputable security company addressed to a female client and no one had bothered to include registered sex predators in her area or sex crimes rates). Being able to be creative and think like the “bad guys” will give you a different perspective to work on with your risk assessment. If you were going to commit a crime against this person(s), how would you do it? What methods would you use to overcome current security protocols? Where are the weaknesses?
Adapting to Different Situations: As we already mentioned, a protective detail is like a living thing and is consistently evolving, changing organism. Unforeseen situations may arise during your assignment. New #threats, changing security needs, and what you can and cannot do. Thinking outside of the box means being able to adapt quickly and make split-second decisions based on the circumstances at hand. Nothing is ever a set of little yellow footprints laid out on the ground for you to follow. During a protective detail, you don’t have much time to think, play scenarios out, or do calculations in your head. You have to be fast and effective!
Discreetness: While it's essential for an EP agent to be #vigilant and #protective, sometimes blending into the background can be equally important. An innovative agent will find ways to remain discreet while ensuring their client's safety. Observe your environment quickly and be able to come up with a behavior, and persona that will justify your presence but not give away your purpose. The days of highly overt agents are becoming more outdated every day. Discreet, quiet, discerning agents are in high demand, and we must adapt to fill these needs.
Understanding Client's Needs: Each client is different, with their own preferences and concerns. Each protective detail is different, with its #threatlevels and its own #protectiveplan. As an EP agent thinking outside of the box, you will be able to understand your client’s needs, the team’s operational needs, and tailor your approach accordingly. One thing that many clients bring up as a complaint, is that they feel “suffocated” by the presence of their EP teams. While it is understandable to have the protective triangle, box, rhombus (you name it) tighter in crowded places, you need to consider the overall circumstances and loosen up the distance between you and the #protectee when the situation and environment allows for it. Knowing how close to be and when to allow space is a very important skill to sharpen for the client’s sake and their overall experience. One wise old practitioner once told us, “Close enough they can see you and nod if they need you…Far enough away that they never have to introduce you.”
One may ask, “Do I have to forget what I have been taught?” Absolutely not! Thinking outside of the box does not require one to forget or abandon the knowledge and training they have received. Instead, it encourages the integration of their existing expertise with creative thinking and problem-solving to enhance their effectiveness as an executive protection professional. It really becomes a question of how you can build on what you have been taught and expand on it further through creativity. The “bad guys” use creativity to develop their strategies to overcome your best-laid plans…How can you outthink them? Standard security practices and methods are the essential foundations of the field of protection. They are tried-and-tested approaches that have proven to be effective in various situations and are based on years of experience and research (and learning from mistakes!). These practices provide a structured and reliable framework for handling security challenges and a foundation for ensuring the safety of your clients. Now you must take what you’ve been taught and expand your thought processes to encompass these new ideas and possibilities. So, when you find yourself in situations that may demand a unique or unconventional approach…Can you really think outside of the box?