Shake and Bake

In Adam McKay’s masterpiece, Talladega Nights (starring Will Ferrell), the hero is supported throughout his initial rise to fame by his best friend, Carl Naughton Jr. (John C. Reilly). Their formula is supportive, balanced and ultimately each knows their place in the hierarchy. “Shake and Bake!” is their signature shout-out for a move that invariably establishes their dominance against all challengers. But woven into this triumphant relationship is a tragic flaw. Although they win, time and time again, it is Will Ferrell’s character, Ricky Bobby, that insists he must always come first. 
Eventually this institution of excellence is upended in part by Carl’s ambition to begin to put himself first, ahead of Ricky. Balance is only restored when Ricky and Carl come to understand better the power and intertwined nature of their relationship and begin to work together, with renewed mutual respect and intimacy, to restore their dominance. Shake and bake, 2.0.

Cyber Security Relationship

Talledega Nights and Cyber Security Relationship

Like many of my fellow movie goers, I left the theater that night with a gift. Adam McKay had revealed for me timeless insights applicable to many aspects of my life, including my own chosen line of work, IT. For me, the arc of Cal and Ricky’s relationship mapped to the story cyber security’s relationship to IT, particularly over the last decade. For much of the last 30 years, cyber security, represented by Carl, has been an afterthought, a bolt-on to the digital agenda. But the reality is that any wins for automation, digitalization and IT in general, represented by Ricky, were all underpinned by the basic disciplines of cyber security including protection, segmentation, disaster recovery, identity authentication, etc. 

But over the last 10 years, cyber security has become increasingly uncomfortable as the threat landscape evolved quickly and new attack vectors seemed to emerge almost daily. 


It has seemed to CISCOs the world over that cyber security should, at least occasionally, be pulled forward from the back of the back office to get a little luvin’ from the board. Unfortunately, CIO’s have been trying to get that same board luvin’ for decades and haven’t been really gracious about acting as a slingshot for their cyber security colleague’s careers.  

Just as Cal’s push to outshine Ricky seemed inevitable, cyber security has tried to push its way onto the board agenda, sometimes rather awkwardly around the back of or away from the overall IT agenda. This competition for board attention has led to a few wins for CISCOs, but ultimately has created an extra obstacle for the digital transformation agenda overall. 

Taledega Nights and Cyber Security Relationship Cyber Se

Digital Transformation Offers Opportunities for CICOs

But where understanding, patience, love and hard work are available, hope can flourish. The digital transformation agenda offers exactly such an opportunity for CIOs and CISCOs to more fully examine the their own agendas in light of the other’s. The potential benefits of digital transformation are enormous. But the entire exercise of developing a digital strategy, a transformation roadmap and detailed project plans cannot, must not, happen with security treated as a bolt on.
The opportunities lost in this separation of the shake and the bake are clear. Think about network traffic analysis software. Sure, it is bought and sold as a defensive tool; to monitor for bad actors and traffic on the network which is not normal. But what can that same network traffic tell you about team performance? About collaboration patterns? How can you use that same data to think about how to supercharge your organisation, not just protect it? This is a clear instance (one of many) where cyber security can be given a much broader remit in helping reflect back to the organisation who and what it actually is on a minute by minute basis. 


Digital Data As Part of Your Cyber Security Agenda

Of course, on the other side of the equation, the digital agenda is all about data. In discussing and considering how data can and should be utilized, considerations of confidentiality, criticality and accessibility must be considered. This is a clear instance (one of many) where the cyber security agenda must be wholly understood and appreciated by both IT business partners and any of the business process analysts employed to push the digital transformation agenda.


“You ARE putting process at the centre of your digital transformation agenda, right?!!!”

Technologies are becoming more intertwined as digitalization accelerates complification (I looked it up, yeah, it’s a real word) across multiple layers of the overall business landscape.  Risk and opportunity are so closely tied together now that strategies for protecting value and creating value should be virtually indistinguishable. At the very least each must be developed in full view and consideration of the insights from the other.  If you figure out how to ensure that any attention, budget and invitation to participate in strategic conversations at board level can be balanced across IT and cyber security, just as Ricky and Carl did, you’ll achieve a powerful alchemy for the sake of your company’s performance.

Shake and Bake, baby, Shake and Bake!

Talledega Nights and Cyber Security Relationship

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