December 2017
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Socks, Then Shoes

It’s all about the basics

Almost any professional golf or tennis coach will tell you that they spend most of their time teaching the basics. Golfers forget to keep their heads down. Tennis players fail to follow through. No one, no matter what the sport, seems to remember that footwork is key.

Regular readers know that this site is less than impressed with the threat presented by Russian internet mafia syndicates or potential Chinese cyberterrorists, state-sponsored or otherwise. Both groups are prefectly unsavory, but the fact is that they are usually a much smaller threat to us than we are to ourselves.

So simple, yet so hard to remember

Many IT-security specialists will tell you that for all the fortunes we spend on technology, a surprisingly large number of audits reveal former employees, who left months and even years prior, that still have accounts and valid passwords. We can speculate on why coordinating with HR is harder than sending checks to vendors, but the task, though uncomplicated, gets left undone.

H1N1 sent a shiver of excitement through offices worldwide last year, but the real story ought to be the depressing level of unpreparedness. It was demoralizing to see how many clients needed to start their preparations with tasks as basic as updating their telephone lists. Lots of companies spent a long time figuring out who was responsible for doing what. It was basic stuff.

What to do?

Focus on the basics. It is interesting to see how often you can predict whether a player will score a basketball free throw by watching whether they bend their knees and follow through. The same was true for penalties at the World Cup. Players who put their bodies over the ball generally put enough power behind the shot to leave the goalie helpless. Both sports teach these techniques to kids who are still learning to read. It is basic stuff.

The basics may be easier to learn than they are to remember. We are mistaken when we think that once we understand something, we can shift our focus to something we do not. Checklists help, but most important thing may be having the humility to stop and check that we are doing the basics right. While  you are at it, remember to drink some water and check your shoelaces.

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