By Giovanni Piero Spinelli, CEO & Director of Intelligence Division of STAM Strategic & Partners Group Ltd, June 2020
Nowadays ”Executive Close Protection operations” represent a complicated segment in VIP protection operations especially when it comes to the corporation world. As some experts think, this kind of activities, under some aspects, is more complex than governmental “Close Protection” operations in high anthropic risk areas. The complexity of this kind of operations lays in the management of the VIP, that must be absolutely flexible, dynamic and, under some aspects, ecletic, because it must adapt and adhere to personality that are strong, but at the same time ecletic and difficult to manage. Such management operations are done through SOPS that, most of the times, are perfect for a subject that has a government position and already knows the SOPS of protection adopted and, most of them, imposed by office protocol.
The dynamism of the operators that deal with close protection and especially of their “Team Leader” in the Executive Close Protection area is the base to insure the success of the operations and a durable working relationship. A lot of times it is necessary to be chameleonic in order to manage behaviors imposed by the VIP high ego that could bring the same VIP to establish rules and obvious life style habits putting in danger itself and, mostly, the Close Protection Team’s credibility along with the Team Leader’s reputation. Clearly it is not easy imposing rules to the person who pays you, and, most important of all, to a person that, despite the fact of being a VIP, wants, in some sort of ways, to live and do things like every common person. In this case, the Close Protection Team’s capabilities of creating an ad hoc reality where the VIP can feel satisfied and, at the same time, the close protection team can guarantee its own security is crucial in order to avoid fights and misunderstandings that, in the long period, could damage the professional and personal relationship between the VIP and its security personnel. This is the point where the ”Protective Intelligence” gets into the game, because it is capable of evaluating the systemic context in which the events develop and manipulating such events in a smart way so that it creates an adherent scenario to the requests of the client through the evaluation of boundaries and possibilities offered by the scenario reference frame created for the case by the security personnel. ”Case Study, Example”: For some years I worked for a wealthy Brazilian business man who had developed its top notched affairs in all South America and USA. This VIP was a lover of the Italian enogastronomy, he loved wines the most, and he had the habits of going to the same Italian restaurants, and he had done it for years. The former Close Protection Team, which had managed the VIP’s security before my arrival, made possible the imposition of his life style into the security procedures creating a routine and habit capable of creating dangerous holes inside the security device and increasing the development of critical issues and risks at a fast rate. Everybody knew this VIP, his schedule and habits and this was creating high risk margin. Obviously we knew about this erroneous way to manage the security and the idea was to create ad hoc solutions allowing the continuation of the VIP’s habits without altering its level of security. Said that, as a Team Leader I began talking to the VIP about this passion for the made in Italy being prepared to deal with this argument and acquiring the necessary data with a typical and essential elicitation activity that would have allowed me to organize alternative solutions to make the VIP curious, create common interests and synergies. Meanwhile I did a deep research regarding all restaurants and hotels the city of Sao Paulo with high level of Italian enogastronomy. I was able to locate 2/3 important places that I started to hang out personally trying to acquire relevant data to the security planning operations.
In a particular hotel I found out all the decisive elements that would have made the VIP curious. Knowing the VIP’s passion for wines, I took advantage of a high level Italian wine-tasting event that the hotel was organizing where some of the best brands of the Italian enogastronomy were going to be present. Paying the manager I was able to put the VIP on the event list and make him receive directly in its office the invitation and a 1000 US dollars bottle of Chianti, which I paid, nut officially sent by the company that was organizing the event. The effect on the VIP’s ego was absolutely positive. In a matter of seconds he asked my opinion about the wine and if I knew its brand while inviting me to taste it with him. The result was that he accepted the invitation, went to the event of enogastronomy and started hanging out in that hotel and in other places that I and my team created with an event horizon of 6 months. We were able to alter an old routine that had become dangerous, changing the VIP’s lifestyle in a smart and intriguing way without letting him notice anything and creating a friendship agreement.
This is just one of the example of many “Case Studies” that could be told, but the ”Doctrine” and methodology do not change. Whether operating inside the nation’s borders or abroad, one must be able to create all those solutions so that a VIP would not feel nor offended nor obliged to be adherent to rules that would never accept because of its social status, unless the menace reaches very close to it. This last case is the case where the ”Close Protection Team” failed. It is necessary that whoever deals with the VIP’s protection has the capability to create controlled realities where the same VIP can feel good without perceiving that those realities were artificially created as in a movie set where the VIP is the main actor and the Team Leader the movie director.
Communication and continuous elicitation activities allow us to acquire all the useful information so that ad hoc created scenarios can be organized with style and have the effect to stimulate enthusiasm within the VIP. It is necessary to be always able to create controlled scenarios with the goal to prevent and anticipate possible events, operating in a reality that is natural and artificial at the same time.
It is necessary to become integrated elements of the VIP, not detached, without invading its privacy but being always present and ready to find solutions so that it can be always pleased without renouncing to its security.
Surely the creation of anticipated solutions that are adherent to the personality, habits and VIP’s lifestyle cannot rely on casual decisions, but nonetheless they rely on something that is being constantly planned.