An enlightening (work) experience

This year we thought we’d do our bit for the local community by agreeing to take a teenager from a local school on a week’s work experience. We went through the assessment process, were accepted and waited with, I have to say, some trepidation for our student to arrive.

The young gentleman in question duly turned up on the Monday morning, complete with new tie and shiny shoes, to learn all about business continuity management and what a business continuity consultancy does.

Now I don’t know about you, but I find it difficult enough explaining what I do to adults who understand the business of business, let alone explaining it to someone with little or no experience of business life. So it turned out to be an interesting and enlightening experience.

His first couple of days were spent learning about the various aspects of running a business – accounts, sales and marketing, customer service, invoicing, cash flow, office administration, and so forth – things that he previously had little knowledge of, but which hopefully will be useful to him whatever line of work he ends up in. Then it came to my turn.

I spent a couple of days with him, explaining what I do and how I help my clients with their business continuity management programmes. I even took him to a couple of client meetings (for which I’m very grateful to the clients concerned).

I explained in fairly simple terms what business continuity management’s about, which to be fair wasn’t that difficult because, when you really look at it, most of it’s not actually that complicated is it? In fact, on one occasion when I’d explained something to him he asked “but isn’t that just common sense?”, which sort of says it all really.

I’m sure he learned quite a lot. But I did too. The experience served as a reminder that…

  • Business continuity management isn’t necessarily that well understood outside the little world that we, as practitioners, inhabit.
  • It’s very easy to assume that people know what you’re talking about (and that applies to all sorts of topics, not just business continuity).
  • Whilst we “experts” might understand the jargon (although this isn’t always the case – click here to see my LinkedIn discussion on what is meant by the acronym MTPD) others may not and we should try to avoid it wherever possible if we want people to understand what we’re on about (click here to see my tip on this subject)
  • There’s a need to educate the next generation of business people about business continuity management, in schools, colleges and universities.
  • It does you good to occasionally explain things to someone who isn’t an expert, as it makes you really think about things.

And finally…

  • No matter how much we in business continuity land wrap things up in jargon and try to over-complicate things to make ourselves look clever, business continuity management isn’t, when you get right down to it, actually rocket science, despite the best efforts of some people to convince you otherwise!

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