Bodyguards and the undead dilemma…
This last weekend the long awaited movie version of Max Brook’s post-apocalyptic World War Z finally came to the big screen. If you have ever been around my team, you know that this book was almost required reading (at least as an unwritten rule). During advance work, many a conversation has been started by “The Dane” at a coffee house, or over an ale in [insert foreign country here] which started with the simple question, “What would you do if the Z war kicked off, during this detail?”
The modern genre phenomenon involving Zombies can be traced back to George Romero’s 1968 movie “The Night of The Living Dead.” This film brought us to terms with an unrecognizable foe who neither thought like us nor reacted to any preplanned courses of actions. In other words, the undead-as-a-foe represents the ultimate asymmetric aggressor to any critical planning we have.
Romero would go on to produce other entries into his world and, as a result, the movies came to be more social commentaries and exposition about human nature, with the zombies providing the backdrop. One only needs to watch any season of AMC’s “The Walking Dead” to see this evolution.
Brooks also carried this idea forward in his works and suggested many underlying themes in his book regarding, politics, overutilization of technology by the military and base human nature. But, as Executive practitioners and crisis management strategists, the genre is viewed more as “the ultimate preparedness exercise.”
This idea of preparedness has grown into its own cottage industry with magazines, books and even associations dedicated to the idea of being ready, within a façade of the undead genre. The CDC has even capitalized on the move by using zombies to educate the masses (http://www.cdc.gov/phpr/zombies.htm).
Zombies and the Executive Protection Industry!?!?
Practitioners of the Tao of Executive Protection pride themselves in being ready and prepared in all situations. Go into any establishment that houses off-duty contractors or bodyguards and you can listen in on conversations about go-bags which can last into the wee hours of the morning or hear (at nauseam) discussions about why equipment X beats equipment Y… We take this stuff pretty seriously, folks 😉 .
So, with this in mind, it is no surprise that taking something completely alien to the formula, only causes the brain to work around the issues more: “If I had to get out, If I had a limited supply of X, If my client had medical issues, If I had to get to a plane, If we needed to pick a safe haven, If we needed to hold up,” If…If….If…… the true test of any course of action development truly starts within the “If” statement.
The baseline for Executive Protection activity is housed within our ability to conduct the “advance.” Understanding the schedule, the threat and the players helps us formulate strategies, response and counter-response activities to help keep our clients safe and to keep momentum forward. Our slice of the security sector prides itself on this ability and, often, it is a skill practitioners’ feel separates them from the rest of the industry. With all this activity, though, comes the anticipation of “What If.” Don’t get me wrong, nobody wishes for an Attack on Principal (AOP), or for undo harm to come to those we are charged to protect, but we still ask the question “What If?”. The extension of this into the ultimate black swan element, involving a mass of undead who do not care, think, nor react as you plan is just another way to look at your situation and ask yourself, “ Are we ready?”
So, after you see the movie (I will reserve any critical reviews and comparisons to the book) my challenge to you is this; say you’re sitting with a group of friends: Dan, Kellen, Arlyne, Dana, Kelsey and Kira…ask them the question, “What would we do if it kicked off…right now?” The yielded responses will not only be lively, but telling.