Kai Roer thought leader

Thought Leader Life 030: Guest Kai Roer

Kai Roer thought leaderOn 5 July our guest was Kai Roer (@kairoer).  

People and organizations rely on Kai and his consulting services to make strategic security decisions where people, technology and business meet. His clients are located worldwide, and range from SME/SMB to multinational corporations. Kai works with both the public and the private sector. 

He is currently focusing on user awareness, security culture and the study of how our human mind makes us vulnerable and exploitable. He consults with people and organizations on the interpersonal skills that are vital to a successful and trusting secure environment. Previous experience include Technical (network, security, web, programming), Compliance (Privacy Ombud, Standards, Laws) and Leadership (Project Management, Team management, Business Management). 

Currently, Kai is heading the development of the Security Culture Framework, a practical approach to building and maintaining security culture in organizations.

He is part of the Expert Panel at Information Security Buzz; a columnist at Help Net Security; and an avid blogger. 

Kai defines a #ThoughtLeader as someone with thoughts or ideas that people choose to follow. The mindset of a #ThoughtLeader is to be creative, going outside of the box. The discussion focuses on security culture and gives a deep analysis on how it impacts the world today. In explaining what security culture is about, Kai first points out that culture in general is a constant feedback loop: on one hand, different groups of individuals have different cultures and they impact each other; on the other hand, the culture of the group impacts the personality of the individual. Relating this to security culture, Kai says the ideas or behavior in a particular group impacts their security – either positively or negatively. Security or the feeling of being safe is mainly cultural because it is a learned behavior. You feel safe when the behavior of people around you is familiar, familiarity is a safety mechanism, and when there is no threatening environment.

Kai gives emphasis on the need for corporations to put security culture in place, meaning there should be an interplay of PTP or Policies, Technology and People. While these 3 elements are present in the Internet and technology today, the challenge is how to make them support each other. These are interconnected, and everything goes back to culture. There can be no culture without policies just as there can be no policies without people. And technology are the tools that tie them together. Michael surmises that changing a culture, specifically for very large corporation, can be an incredibly difficult thing to do. To this, Kai answers that, yes, it can be very difficult but it is not impossible. He cites a study made in the ‘60s at Standford University which proved that you can change the culture within a group if guided by policies and supported by tools.

In a light moment during the interview, Kai shows his favorite thinking “toy” which is a colorful filler box for toddlers. He makes a great analogy of the toy with mental models which is one way to interpret information. Kai also cites how Mitchell is doing a fantastic job by sharing and promoting #ThoughtLeadership which then supports intrinsic motivation. Before the end of the interview, Kai gives a final Aha: To change cultures, change environments. When you are out of your normal environment, you forget all the normal things that you do. So changing cultures take people out of the normal and challenges them so that it changes them, too.

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Here are a couple of aha moments from the episode. See more in the “Aha Moments from Thought Leader Life” books available in the THiNKaha App:

  • Security culture is so relevant to everyday culture both on the consumer & particularly on the B2B side. @happyabout
  • Telling me what I could do, rather than what I should do, gives me inner motivation. That’s stronger than anything else you can do to me. @kairoer
  • Social media has transformed the world, the lives of people & organizations in just a decade. @kairoer
  • To change cultures, change environments. @kairoer


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