An outside observer as a tool for identifying gaps and improving capability

Yellow paper man near magnifying glass on dark background with beam of light

An outside observer as a tool for identifying gaps and improving capability

November 17, 2017 – 12:00 pm
by Miky Weinberg

Organizations, and those within them in junior and senior management positions, find it hard to open the door to an element defined as an outside observer.  Usually, the difficulty stems from a kind of fear regarding the personal level of the position holder and/or the level of the organization itself.

The outside observer must be permanently unconnected to the organization and must not be directly acquainted with the manager or any of the employees involved in the inspection process. Whether or not the outside observer needs to have professional knowledge in the organization’s field of work depends on the subject of the inspection.  Sometimes, in order to get the best results, it’s preferable for the outside observer to come from an entirely different field.The outside observer will be able to identify strengths, weaknesses, and gaps only when he/she is free of interests and of the internal politics of the organization being checked.  The use of an outside observer is part of the field of enforcement and supervision of the conduct and functioning of the organization with all its executives and employees and provides a way of dealing with the dangers in daily routine.  An organization that brings in an outside observer is considered to be strong and one that seeks ways and tools to improve capabilities and subsequently to improve results and achievements.
An outside observer is suitable for anyone who wants to know her present situation and isn’t afraid of the truth and its implications, and unsuitable for whoever is afraid of the truth and of unfiltered criticism and changes.

An organization and/or managers who don’t bring an outside observer element into their world are exposing themselves to dangers that could erupt at any time, with severe consequences that could even jeopardize the existence of the business.

In the world of security as well, the use of an outside observer is necessary for security companies, some of which are considered large organizations, managers of various levels of experience, and employees with suitable professional training for the job.  The security world must use outside observers for two main reasons:

  1. Security protects human life and the cost of failure could be death.
  2. Security work quickly becomes extremely routine, and routine causes dangerous gaps in the response to adversaries.

Different organizations in the world of security hire me as an outside observer and allow me to observe them for a specified period of time, at the end of which I can give them a true picture of the situation, free of “background noise” and routine organizational interferences.  Most of the time, on the way to the client’s office, as I walk through the organization’s territory, I already identify the characteristics of their routine and some of the gaps it generates.  These are the gaps that are immediately apparent to an outside observer but escape the notice of those who work in the organization.  It could be the smallest detail that to the regular observer appears in place and part of everyday life, certainly not a gap in the level of operation.  Someone who knows how to function as an outside observer will know how to recognize the signs indicating a problem and gaps in the organization and its activity, and will know how to explain to the client why they are a negative influence and how they are damaging to the organization.

In my experience, in every outside observer job I do, it takes my client a day or two to understand what I want from him and what I meant by the comments and insights I’ve provided, but from the moment he gets it, the whole truth about his state of affairs becomes clear to him and he doesn’t stop taking notes.

What are those signs that indicate a problem and a gap?

  1. When the first entry door a visitor sees in an important facility holds a faded and wrinkled sign printed on plain printer paper and held up with scotch tape, there’s no doubt that what’s inside will look as bad if not worse than the sign.
  2. When the room that houses the weapons safes becomes the storeroom for the cleaning supplies of the external contractor’s maintenance crew, it’s clear that routine has taken over the organization big time.
  3. When the emergency exit in a large store is blocked by equipment or by an installation that was obviously placed there deliberately, it’s clear that there’s no enforcement of regulations and no awareness of dangers at that location.
  4. When the work environment looks like a disorderly warehouse, it’s clear that the employees aren’t fully productive and that the organization is not at its best business-wise.

I come to an outside observer assignment without ego and free of prejudice, make sure to look into my client’s eyes and to speak at the appropriate level.  Only thus can I succeed in getting the information I need and only thus can I ask any question, even those that are difficult and possibly uncomfortable for the client.

My aim is not to rebuke, insult, or humiliate the client.  I’m careful to maintain a positive approach of support, strengthening, and building.  The client can finally understand how his/her mistakes, mostly managerial ones, create the gaps that are discovered by the adversary, who uses them as opportunities to harm the protected personality, thus harming the client as well.  The client begins to grasp that he/she must make changes within the organization, the sooner the better.  I prove to my clients that if they position themselves without ego or fear, they will succeed in leading their organizations and themselves to amazing improvements they would never have thought possible.  At times these changes bring about organization-wide improvement.  I become a winning card in my client’s hand, on condition that he/she takes my recommendations very seriously and acts promptly to implement them. The client understands that gaps can be identified and pinpointed in a positive way, without threatening anyone, paving the way to the full cooperation of the employees.

During the outside observer process, I make the client understand that it’s reasonable that he/she might lack knowledge on certain subjects connected to their work, and that it’s possible to obtain the required knowledge from a third party.  This understanding allows the client to benefit from the process.

An outside observer can identify and deal with numerous gaps, or only a few.  The outside observer shouldn’t be contacted only when the organization is already in a deep crisis.

When carrying out outside observation in the context of the world of security, I make sure to stress the importance of working in accordance with the basic principles of security, and provide tools to give the security guards a better understanding of their mission, thereby enabling them to maintain a maximal level of operation over time.  I explain and demonstrate to my client the elements that are necessary in the security guards’ work environment in order for them to succeed in their missions during routine times, in times of emergency, and especially when faced with a potential adversary.

One of the main points that I always make sure to get across to the managers is the fact that they need to be more involved in what happens in the field, in enforcement and supervision, and by no means should they allow themselves to become detached from the field and depending solely on reports from their subordinates.  I’d like to note that in the case of the assassination of Prime Minister Yitzchak Rabin, the Shamgar committee found that the head of the service at the time didn’t directly supervise the Dignitaries Protection Unit and therefore didn’t really know what was going on within it.  That led him to make poor decisions over time and to reach the day when he was taken by surprise and realized that his worst nightmare had come true.

Lack of openness and inflexible thinking on the part of the managers causes the security guards in the field to act the same way, losing faith in the mission and losing creativity in their thinking.  My experience, and that of others acting as outside observers, allows us to bring the client another way of thinking, creative and refreshing, that allows him/her to be better, more professional, and highly capable of activating the employees.

One of the topics that always appear in my concluding report involves the trainings and exercises for security directors, shift managers, and security guards.  I recommend switching to special exercises and trainings that are increasingly suited to the reality in the field, including many practical exercises.

I get the message across that good security means good security directors, shift managers, and security guards who are assigned a mission and know how to carry it out the best way possible.  In security, too, you have to know how to reach each guard personally and make him/her better.

What types of outside observation can be carried out?

  1. The classic, accepted type – Observation of work and conduct and the preparation of a summary report
  2. Professional accompaniment of a staff member – professional accompaniment of a security director or shift manager or security guard for a day or over the course of a few days, through which all the characteristics and conduct of the employees and of the organization in general can be revealed.  You’ll be amazed how much can be learned in one day of professional accompaniment.
  3. Activity of a “red team” within the organization (the target) – infiltration and surveillance of the target for a few days, while checking a number of specific professional issues, facilitates the formation of a well-founded and documented situation report.

I prefer the second and third options, which are out of the ordinary in the field of outside observation and truly allow me to bring the client a well-founded real-time situation report.  The added value of option 3 lies in the photo-documentation that lets me present the situation to the client at the conclusion in a video from the field.

The operation of an outside observer is of utmost importance in the life of an organization, especially for those whose work is safeguarding human life, but can only succeed if the client is at the point of personal and professional maturity that will allow him/her to open themselves and the organization to an independent element.  An outside observer can bring valuable results only when operating in an environment that sticks to the necessary principles – mainly that during the course of the observation the day-to-day reality remains as is.

Remember, security must be achieved by gaining complete control over everything that happens under your jurisdiction

More Articles

VIP Security – How can it be that the VIP’s car is stolen from in front of the hotel?

VIP Security – How can it be that the VIP’s car is stolen from in front of the hotel?

July 4, 2018 – 12:00 pm
by Miky Weinberg

Documented: The Military Attache in Europe was in a meeting – and the official state car was stolen

The driver and the Israeli security guard waited outside of the running car.  The thief took advantage of the opportunity and made off with the luxury Audi.

On Monday, July 2nd, 2018, the above item appeared in the media, including a video recording the moment of the car theft and the first reactions of the security guard and the driver, who were nearby (in front of the hotel – the seam):


The videotaped event gives us an additional opportunity to explain what we can, regarding the work of a personal bodyguard.  The protected personality, the Military Attache in a European country, is holding a meeting in a hotel that is apparently drawing to a close.  One can see in the video that the personality’s car is already situated at the entrance to the hotel heading in the right direction, the driver and the guard are also in front of the hotel (defined in security terms as the seam – the area between the hotel’s exit door and the car).  Just before the theft, we see the guard walking on the sidewalk and at a certain point a man holding a coat walks past him, after which the guard is seen moving ahead and standing with the driver and the protected person, all standing together on the sidewalk behind the car.  The moment of the theft: the three are still standing and talking, the thief approaches the car from the direction of the opposite sidewalk, pauses for a few seconds next to the driver’s door, nonchalantly enters the car, and drives away about three seconds later.  It appears that the driver is the first to realize that something is happening with the car. He alerts the guard, who starts running forward, apparently shouting something to the driver.

It was later learned that the luxury car was neutralized by the Audi company by remote control and was found abandoned in the Muslim neighborhood.

I, personally, think that very few people would think of the possibility that someone would come and steal the car from under the noses of the guard and the driver, but at the same time it should be noted that the decision to leave the car open with the keys inside and stand with one’s back to the car turned out to be a miserable decision.  It wouldn’t be right to merely chalk it up to stupidity on the part of the guard and the driver, because then we won’t learn from the event, and also because I’m sure the guard and the driver aren’t really stupid.

A professional error like that could arise from disbelief that anything could happen or as a result of personal fatigue or a combination of the two.

In personal security, single-guard security is considered challenging and difficult and requires a high level of decision-making ability, especially regarding the guard’s position relative to the VIP’s position and the possible threats at any given moment.  The guard is responsible only for the personality’s safety, taking into consideration all the means and personnel at his disposal for seeing the threats and finding the best possible response. The concept of field security sends the bodyguard to guard the personality at the point of arrival at the hotel, on the route he walks from the car to the room where the meeting takes place, throughout the meeting, on the exit route to the car, and in the car until it begins to move and leaves the area. The characteristics of the protected person’s actions will affect the process of threat analysis carried out by the guard. Activity defined as patterned (repetitive activity) expands the list of possible threats against the personality as opposed to activity that isn’t patterned, which will shorten the list of threats.  In both cases, the guard will be required to suit the level of the response to the level of the threat, considering every place the personality will be – the car, the seam, the route within the hotel, and the meeting room.

Since we’re dealing with single-guard level security, the guard is defined as the first and last circle of protection before reaching the protected person.  Therefore as a rule the guard will remain in close proximity to the personality, unless there’s a very good reason for him to leave in order to carry out a security action elsewhere.

It should be clear that in the event that the personality in question uses the same hotel for meetings, his activity is considered a pattern, so the guard has to be sure to stay close to him or her at all times, while using the driver for surveillance of the car as a security response to possible actions by the threatening party.

In personal security, the driver is part of the security arrangement, especially when the level of security is single-guard, so he must keep in mind his responsibility for everything connected to the personality’s car – its maintenance, appearance, and security – as a part of the general security arrangement. A professional operative driver must understand that when he remains in the area of activity, he must be sure to maintain constant surveillance of the car. At the point before departure, as in the event in question, he should be seated in his place in the car.  If the driver had worked according to the principles of his job as the driver of a secured personality, the thief wouldn’t have thought to try stealing the car. The operational error of the guard was that he didn’t make sure that the driver would be seated in the car at the time that the personality exited the hotel as an emergency precaution.  I wouldn’t rush to criticize the guard for the theft of the car because the driver wasn’t sitting in it, but I would criticize him for not being on full operational alert.  The car plays a very important role at the stage where the personality goes out to the car, as witnessed by the assassination attempt on President Ronald Reagan and the assassination of Prime Minister Yitzchak Rabin.

Every security guard, especially a personal bodyguard, must remember that every security principle that isn’t adhered to fully causes a security gap that may become known to an adversary who is brave enough to take advantage of it to attempt to harm the personality or to carry out some other action, such as stealing his fancy official state car.


Remember, security must be achieved by gaining complete control over everything that happens under your jurisdiction.

More Articles

The Shooting from the Hotel in Las Vegas – Hotel Security in Israel

The Shooting from the Hotel in Las Vegas – Hotel Security in Israel

April 10, 2018 – 12:00 pm
by Miky Weinberg

The shooting that took place this week [in October] in the vibrant gambling city of Las Vegas was perpetrated by Stephen Paddock, an American citizen who took a room on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Hotel and turned it into a war room, thoroughly planned and orchestrated to coincide with a music festival attended by thousands that served as his opportunity to vent personal frustration via the biggest mass murder to ever occur in the U.S. at the hands of an American citizen.

The cold-blooded murderer opened fire for 9 -11 minutes, managing to kill 59 innocent civilians and to wound over 500, some of them very seriously.

Details of the event that have been reported paint a difficult and worrisome picture regarding mass event security and hotel security.  In the context of civilian security in Israel, I believe that the aforementioned event should be a large red flag for the government of Israel, for the security division of the Israeli police force and for all those hotels with appointed CEO’s and CSO’s.  This is the time to stop and rethink everything having to do with mass event security and especially with hotel security.

In order to understand why I believe this, I recommend watching the footage of the event in Las Vegas:

Hotels in Israel are secured according to the guidelines of the Security Division of the Israeli Police Force that determine the required level of security based on the number of rooms in the hotel and the occupancy percentage.  As someone who has walked around in hotels quite a lot as part of my job, I can allow myself to state that the level of security in most of the hotels in Israel does not provide an adequate response to the threats cited by the police, as a supervising authority, and certainly couldn’t deal with events similar to the shooting in Las Vegas.

And again, I recommend watching the following footage showing the despicable murderer’s room:

You don’t have to be a security expert to understand that the killer planned his actions in advance, booking the room far enough in advance to have time to bring in all the weapons, rig the room with cameras, and prepare it for the moment of truth, 9-11 minutes of deadly gunfire that kills and maims innocent civilians.  The film raised a number of questions for me that are directly connected to the hotel’s security with regard to security in Israel:

To what degree is the CSO in control of the list of the hotel’s guests, and to what extent does it allow him to identify suspicious signs?

Is the hotel networked with cameras that allow control of its public areas and is the hotel security headquarters capable of gleaning information from them in real time?

Are the hotel employees and security personnel trained to recognize suspicious signs in a room or in its immediate vicinity?

Does the control of the entrances to the hotel, including those connected to underground parking lots, channel the hotel’s guests through an entry or exit route that allows security to identify suspicious signs in a person or in his/her luggage?

Is the hotel’s security force trained to respond to every threat defined in the hotel’s security operational plan?

Do the CEO, the CSO, the employees, and the security force have maximum control over everything that happens on the hotel’s premises?

A hotel is a private facility that offers accommodations and entertainment outside the civilian’s home and allows him or her to rent a room for a certain amount of time for a given price, and in that context to use the hotel’s various facilities.  In the mission clause in the hotel’s security operational plan it states that the security of the hotel is carried out in order to prevent and thwart any injury of anyone staying on the premises, employees and guests.

In reality, can a person who took a room in a hotel in Israel be sure that he/she is being protected from the threats that were defined?  Can he/she be sure that the hotel personnel in the different positions indeed know what’s going on in it?  Can he/she be positive that they’ll complete their stay at the hotel without injury or heaven forbid, death?

Most of the civilians who come to a hotel are totally innocent and come for the purpose of rest and recreation, but there are some who take advantage of the hotel platform to commit criminal acts and /or terrorist activities, if only because they feel comfortable there and sense a lack of supervision.

I remember that when I had just started out as a security guard in the General Security Services in ’91, I was sent to Moscow Base in Russia for three months. I stayed at the Sputnik Hotel, where on every floor there was an old lady 24/7 whose only job was to see and document everything that happened on that floor, who came in, who left, what they did, who they spoke to, etc.  Nothing slipped past her eyes and her ears.  Control. 100% control.

With regard to hotel security in Israel, I believe we must achieve maximum control over everything that happens on the hotel premises, and certainly an event with the characteristics of the one that happened in Las Vegas.

That kind of control is achieved by a combination of trained, skilled personnel and technology that creates proven deterrence and the capability for swift and determined identification and response, all without damaging the hotel’s intended purpose as a profitable business.  In the hotels in Israel there is security that complies with the guidelines of the Israeli Police, but its actual level is not high and doesn’t meet the standards of the written requirements.

Every guest in every hotel must see and feel the security that’s in place there and must understand that he/she is visible 24/7 in the public areas.

The proper and serious regard of the field of security by the CEO and the CSO of the hotel will lead to the understanding that security, though often considered solely an expense, plays an integral role in achieving the hotel’s goals as a financial enterprise, and will result in the recruitment of higher quality personnel for the security positions.

The aforementioned event emphasizes the importance of the hotel headquarters as a place that controls the public areas with the help of visible and hidden cameras and is capable of identifying irregular behavior of a guest or even of a hotel employee.  Today the cameras and the active headquarters take the place of the old lady sitting in the Russian hotel in the 90’s.

In my opinion, it’s time for the Hotel Association of Israel, together with the Israeli Police, in addition to rating the quality of each hotel’s service, to rate the level of its security so the innocent civilian can know and decide if it suits him or her to stay in a hotel with the designated level of security.  Perhaps this type of rating would prompt the CEO’s and CSO’s to regard security more seriously.

The wise thing in security and in general is to know how to learn from events that happened outside of Israel in order to check if there’s a need to make changes in the current state of affairs.  I believe that the shooting in Las Vegas is just such an event that we can learn from in order to improve the level of security in hotels in Israel.

Remember, security must be achieved by gaining complete control over everything that happens under your jurisdiction.

More Articles