If you’re like me, you hate flying.
It’s not the baggage fees, overpriced ham sandwiches or smelly feet that bother me. Now that I’m a parent I don’t even mind three hours of screaming babies. No, I hate flying because the system doesn’t consider Return on Investment (ROI).
And it’s getting worse. Out of my last 20 flights I can’t think of more than 2 that went off without any problems. Any other business that served up that kind of abuse and disservice would never survive.
Unless you’re the TSA.
Try to imagine for a minute that the TSA was actually effective in preventing contraband and malfeasants from getting on planes. Perhaps then we could excuse the acne-faced, socially awkward teenage screeners, the constant re-scanning of a backpack just because it’s camo and the Disney-esque lines (minus the magical scenery).
The airport in Albany, NY, where I’m from, is now considering taking this to another level. The Sheriff and legislators in my town now want to make it illegal for any would-be passenger to exit the security line before screening.
Forgot your phone in the car? Have to use the restroom? Want that irresistible onesie in the Hudson News down the hall? Better take care of that stuff before you get in the security line or you could be arrested. I’m not making this up.
The intent, of course is to help reduce or deter terrorists and other criminals from probing our defensive measures, a tactic that Homeland Security believes has helped adversaries plan previous attacks. Proponents suggest that this would be mitigating one more airport vulnerability, particularly in the wake of several high profile attacks.
You don’t have to spend much time in a TSA line to know that this won’t work. Like software piracy protections and gun control, these measures will only impact law-abiding participants. We call criminals criminals because they commit crimes. They don’t honor our laws. Not to mention how many TSA agents and tax dollars it would take to monitor these lines for “criminal exits”.
At the root of this issue is ROI, which is missing from most security conversations. No one is asking the right question about this, mainly, is it worth it?
Most organizations get their security priorities from TV. We’re all human beings which means ugly headlines are more motivating than heuristics and actuarial data. Emotions drive decision-making, for good or bad. This issue is highly present in corporate America, where there are countless places to spend your security dollars, only a few of which make sense.
There are only three elements in this decision-making process. Similar to other business justifications where your options are fast, good and cheap – you can only pick 2. In security it’s convenience, freedom and security – pick any 2.
So the next time you’re faced with an important security decision, think about the tradeoffs. Ask yourself it the changes will be worth it. Think about security ROI.
Some free peanuts would be nice, too.