Social engineering for good

Social engineering gets a very bad press most of the time. But the vast majority of time people are influencing the behaviour of others it’s not for evil.

If I see a problem child within an organisation and encourage them to leave because they are so far away from the company goals as to actually be detrimental to success that’s not a bad thing. Even the employee in question is gaining from being moved out of the way. He’s not helping himself.  

I worked for a publisher for a while. There was one guy working there who was okay at his job, except most of the time he wasn’t actually doing his job. He was running an Internet business from his desk, when he wasn’t watching porn (btw chaps, if you wear glasses be aware people sitting opposite you do get to see reflections in them from across the desk). 

Now I won’t tell you how I knew he was running the other business. Let’s just say I made it my business to know how that department worked and didn’t work and it cropped up. I could have warned him sure. I could have reported it and had the company go through the disciplinary processes, but while they were doing that (and to be clear it takes a month at least to fire anyone at this company unless they are actually caught by a major client having sex with a fire extinguisher, while stealing printer cartridges) he’s going to create as much trouble as possible. 

So a day came when his new start up was ‘noticed’ by investors*. Who wanted to fund expansion. They needed to invest by the end of the financial year (which was ten days away) and they needed a heck of a lot of information from him first but it was a done deal, the investment was coming. They were so amazed one little guy had created this awesome product. They came in from Linkedin* and were referred and their testimonies spoke for themselves*. They even had their own website.*

How awesome is that? Of course to fulfil their due diligence he had to work continuously and called in sick for five days (win-win, he smelled funny!) but hey he was excited!

By the time he came back we were all delighted to hear he’d decided to ‘pursue other avenues’ because he really believed in his product now, despite the fact that things were a little flakey with his new investors but it’d be sorted by year end. And someone else was trying to hire him anyway*, so he wasn’t worried. Our major competitor in fact who’d heard great things about him.*  

Ironically he DID go on to get funding for this product and enjoyed a little success. Being out of a job must have given him the push he needed. He was probably just in the wrong place and had lost his way. Nothing wrong with that. But companies are rubbish at identifying and dealing with such people and so sometimes having an extra eye on things can be good. 

 

 

* me, me, me, me and me. <moral: people on the web may not be what they first appear>

 

I'm not really here. I'm living the life of Riley. He doesn't mind. He's living the life of a database analyst in Milton Keynes. The pay is crap but his commute is so much more tolerable than mine (kettle to fridge to sofa, repeat).

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