The ramblings of a travelling consultant – episode 2

Last week I went on a trip to Germany with a colleague. I’ll call him Ian – mainly because that’s his name. I’ve known him for almost as long as I’ve been involved in business continuity management and we’ve worked together on numerous assignments over the years.

I was looking forward to going on my travels with Ian again because, aside from the fact that we work well together, our trips are usually good for a laugh or two. And this one was no exception, although, unfortunately, it didn’t extend to anything particularly blog-worthy. Not unless you count a very long and earnest discussion about free range organic chickens and Olympic athletes over several glasses of wine. So I thought I’d tell you about the time I went to America with Ian instead.

It was a very similar assignment, actually, insofar as we were travelling overseas to deliver some training to one of Ian’s clients and the audience was a number of newly nominated business continuity coordinators – who, as you can imagine, were thrilled and excited at the prospect of entering this exciting new world. It was a whistle-stop tour that took in several states and it provided its quota of entertainment for us.

Memories of that trip include (and this is the shortened version, as there were many others) :

• Martell, the breakfast chef at a hotel in Philadelphia. A huge man (at least as wide as I am tall), with a big booming voice to match. He pretty much ordered us to have a nice day, and he was so scary that we did our best to comply.

• A visit to the Star Trek exhibition at the Museum of Art, partly in an effort to obey Martell’s orders. Ian’s a bit of a Trekkie on the sly and he talked me into going with him. Thankfully he didn’t wear the uniform, although I suspect he probably has one at home. I’ll use the word “disappointing” to describe the exhibition as it’s more polite than the one I’d otherwise use.

• Ray (Ray Shiraz – I kid you not), the driver of our “limo” in Los Angeles, who liked to talk – especially about himself. His stories got more and more outrageous, culminating in him allegedly being run out of town after a “liaison” with the mayor’s daughter – details were provided (somewhat too graphically to be honest) but are withheld in case there’s anyone of a sensitive disposition (or my kids) reading this.

• Making what I thought was an amusing quip, in the form of (what I thought was) a clever pun, only to be met by a sea of blank faces and not even the merest of titters or guffaws to break the silence. The English sense of humour (or at least mine) obviously doesn’t travel well.

• Trying to explain the finer points of cricket to several similarly blank faces.

• Me and Ian deciding to get changed into our civvies after the course before going to the airport for an overnight flight home. We were in the training room and everyone else had left. We’d checked that the main door was locked but there was a second door at the back of the room which we overlooked and which opened just after we’d both removed our trousers. Thankfully no-one actually came in but goodness knows whether they caught a glimpse and what they thought if they did.

• And, best of all, the look on Ian’s face after he took a swig of mouthwash only to discover that it was shampoo.

Anyway, to cut a potentially long blog short, there were two significant things that the experience brought home to me.

Firstly, whatever part of the world we’re working in there will be similarities in our business continuity programmes. But there will also be differences, based on geography, the type of business, the industry sector or whatever. And culture can be an important consideration. Even though we might be speaking (at least roughly) the same language as our overseas clients or colleagues, there can be cultural differences that we need to be aware of, particularly if we’re implementing a programme across different countries.

Secondly, and perhaps even more importantly, you should never, ever, drop your trousers unless you’re absolutely certain you won’t be disturbed!

 

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Agree? Disagree? Want to share your own thoughts or opinions?

Post a comment and let me know what you think.

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Andy Osborne (known as Oz to friends and colleagues) is the Consultancy Director at Acumen, a consultancy practice specialising in business continuity and risk management.

Andy is the author of two books ‘Practical Business Continuity Management‘ and ‘Risk Management Simplified‘ as well as his popular blogs and ‘Tips of the Month’, all of which aim to demystify the subjects of business continuity and risk management and make them more accessible to people who live in the real world.

You can follow Andy on Twitter at @AndyatAcumen and link with him on LinkedIn at http://uk.linkedin.com/in/andyosborneatacumen

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