Last Saturday was not one of my better days.
Regular readers of my blogs (which, I have to admit, haven’t been particularly regular lately, something I plan to address in the new year) will know that my chosen winter sport is hockey – see ‘Going head-to-head‘, ‘Fit for nothing‘ and ‘A team effort‘. So, on Saturdays between October and March, I can be seen charging maniacally around a hockey pitch, trying to kid myself that I’m still as fit as I was thirty years ago and exhibiting far more enthusiasm than talent.
For my sins I’ve been captain of my club’s second team for the past couple of seasons – largely because they couldn’t find anyone else daft enough to do it. To paraphrase Messrs Gilbert and Sullivan, the captain’s lot is not, at least for those lacking in masochistic tendencies, always a happy one. Aside from picking the team, there are myriad other responsibilities, from writing up, signing and submitting the team sheet – a requirement of our extraordinarily bureaucratic league (whose handbook includes eleven pages of Draconian rules, plus a further two and a half pages of guidance on said rules), the failure of which results in public ridicule, eternal damnation and, more importantly, a fine – to ensuring there’s a match ball and a first aid kit available; to collecting match fees; to deciding the formation and sorting out playing positions; to delivering a highly inspirational team talk; to generally being a surrogate mother to players who have forgotten their shirt, stick, shin-pads, money, shoes or brain.
Anyway, having spent all week trying to get a side together – because these days everyone seems to have something more important or more interesting to do than play hockey – I finally managed it on Friday evening, through a combination of gentle persuasion, calling in favours and, to be frank, grovelling. It was a bare eleven with no substitutes (the importance of which will shortly become apparent), but I heaved a sigh of relief and relaxed into my Friday evening.
So to Saturday. I won’t bore you with my realisation that my stash of match balls had been “borrowed” over the previous few weeks, leaving me with precisely none, as that was easily remedied with a couple of hasty text messages. What I will bore you with is the fact that two minutes after leaving home, already late, thanks to a certain teenager’s stunning lack of any concept of time, I realised I hadn’t taken my team sheet with me, a near-cardinal sin, as previously mentioned. So I did a swift U-turn and headed back home.
The problem was that I didn’t have my house keys with me, for reasons I also won’t inflict on you. Mrs Oz had headed off for walkies with Barney (see ‘20/20 hindsight‘, ‘Not what it seems‘, ‘Horses for courses‘, ‘A tension span‘ and ‘A bit of a Barney‘) at the same time as I’d left home so there was no-one there to let me in. So I gave her a call and she and Barney did a U-turn too.
Back at Chez Oz, it was a toss-up as to who was the least impressed. Mrs Oz just edged it over Barney with the news that, shortly after talking to me, she’d tested the resilience of her mobile ‘phone by throwing it to the ground. It failed the bounce test spectacularly, a fact that was clearly illustrated by the shattered screen.
Keeping my head down I grabbed a blank team sheet and beat a hasty, if unchivalrous, retreat. I got to the pitch just in time, borrowed back one of my match balls, sorted out the team sheet and other administrative duties and the game got underway.
Our lack of substitutes became an issue ten minutes into the game when one of our defenders had to leave the field with an injury. We reorganised but, as we were playing the league leaders, things became somewhat more difficult and we conceded a couple of goals before he hobbled back on fifteen minutes later. We struggled through to half time but it was clear that we were now up against it.
Five minutes into the second half, the situation took a turn for the worse when, pretending to be a defender, I managed to block a shot from one of the opposition forwards, only to deflect it into my own face. Or, to be more precise, my left eyelid, which proceeded, somewhat unhelpfully, to bleed profusely.
Hero that I am, I suggested that a plaster would suffice and I’d carry on. One of our players, however, begged to differ. Just because he used to be a paramedic he felt he was more qualified than me in this particular respect and that his experience trumped my captaincy. Outrageous! But I decided not to argue. It wasn’t the ex-paramedic thing that swayed my decision, but the fact that he hails from Glasgow.
And so to the next little problem. During our previous match, I’d had to administer first aid to one of our players who’d suffered a bad cut to his hand during a clash of sticks. The most absorbent thing I could find in the first aid kit was an eye bandage, so I improvised and used it to soak up the blood. Which was fine, except that a week later an eye bandage, had there been one available, would have been quite handy. So our stroppy ex-paramedic, bless him, also had to improvise, resulting in him pretty much gift-wrapping half of my face.
I was chauffeured to the local minor injuries unit where, after somewhat embarrassingly explaining that it wasn’t as serious as the gift-wrapping suggested, and enquiring whether they had a loyalty card scheme for regular customers, I was duly stitched up and sent on my way, just in time to meet up with my team in the bar. Thankfully, having missed most of the second half, I’d also missed the four additional goals we’d conceded whilst playing with nine and a half players versus the opposition’s eleven. As I said earlier, it wasn’t a particularly good day.
And so to the business continuity stuff :
Secondly, it’s all very well having a plan, but flawed assumptions can so easily scupper those plans. Whether it’s the availability of people, equipment or information, sometimes those seemingly trivial things can cause us significant problems if they’re not there when we need them.
I had the stitches removed today so the world and I are as one again. And with Christmas looming, there are no matches for a couple of weeks, so I’m looking forward to some respite from the weekly grind of trying to get people to turn up. I will, however, be using the time to address some of the issues that caused me grief. Because, whilst some of them were beyond my control, several could definitely have been avoided with some slightly better planning and preparation. If nothing else, my first aid kit is now fully stocked!
Agree? Disagree? Want to share your own thoughts or opinions?
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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 the books ‘Practical Business Continuity Management‘, ‘Risk Management Simplified‘ and ‘Ski Boots and Celery – A Compilation of Oz’s Business Continuity Blogs‘, 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