36 year old accountant takes the ice as Chicago Blackhawks’ backup goalie

In March 2018, one of those unusual (but not as rare as you might think) occurrences happened. The Blackhawks’ starting goalie was a late scratch for the game, and the backup goalie was injured halfway through the third period.

That meant the Blackhawks had to activate an emergency goalie for the last 14 minutes of play. Scott Foster is a professional accountant. But he was the emergency goalie that night. And amazingly Foster was able to stop all 7 shots he saw, even one against Jet’s star Paul Stastny that was far from a routine save. Accountant by day, NHL star by night (at least that night he was).

So what does this have to do with breach preparedness?

Well, consider what it takes for a professional accountant to take to the ice in front of thousands of fans who paid to come watch. Add to that the fans watching in their living rooms (or anywhere else). And to top it off, Foster had little warm-up and no prep with his team mates.

Guess what? That’s how a lot of folks will feel when they are suddenly thrust into a data breach response and have to perform under intense stress.

So how was Foster successful? And by successful I mean he was even named Player of the Night that night.
As you can imagine, he was asked that exact question in a post-game interview. A reporter asked him how he got on the ice without any real prep or warmup and was able to stop 7 shots. He just laughed.

And then he replied that anyone who plays recreational adult hockey does this every time they play. You see, in the rec league, there aren’t warm up sessions on the ice or trainers in the dressing room to help get you ready to play.

Foster was used to putting on his own equipment and jumping on the ice. That’s how he played with his friends a couple of times a week. So he was used to that mode of operation.

And that’s really the lesson for any company. You folks have to be used to jumping in to incidents. And they have to know that their leaders have their backs and are there to support them. Foster knew the coaches didn’t have high expectations from someone who was jumping in blindly to his first NHL game.

And that brings us to the biggest takeaway.

If your folks aren’t practicing the actions they’ll be expected to take during an incident, they’ll be awkward and unrehearsed when it comes time for the real thing.

In other words, you play how you practice, and if you don’t practice, your play reflects it. As it relates to breach preparedness, this translates to tabletop attack scenario exercises, building and testing playbooks and anything else that continually exercises your team’s muscle memory.