Time off in loo

My favourite room at Chez Oz at the moment is the downstairs cloakroom (I refrained from using the word loo, as in the title, lest you think me common). I’ve spent a serious amount of time in there recently. Not because of my age or propensity for tea-drinking, I hasten to add. No, I’ve been doing a passable impression of a bathroom fitter, albeit a very slow one, during and after my Christmas break.

As you may be aware, particularly if you’ve read “A bumpy landing” I’ve been known to indulge in a bit of DIY now and again. Well, over the Christmas holiday there was a bit too much of the “again”. It might be the smallest room in the house, but that definitely hasn’t translated into a quick job. After all, size, as they say, isn’t everything.

The project started a while ago with an empty room, created during a previous phase of our renovations, around the time we dug up and re-laid our hall floor – as one does. In recent weeks, Mrs Oz and I put quite a lot of time and effort into planning its transformation from an empty room to a usable facility. I’d made a start on implementing those plans but hadn’t really got very far so the Christmas break presented an opportunity to give it some serious focus. Surprise, surprise, it turned out to be another of those “two or three day” projects that end up taking two or three times longer than that – I won’t dwell on that issue as I’ve mentioned it before, but I’m sure many of you will have experienced a similar phenomenon.

Anyway, during this round of do-it-myself (a rather apt abbreviation for which would be DIM), I’ve taken on various roles, including designer, carpenter, drainage engineer, tiler, painter and decorator, plumber and contortionist. Whilst I consider myself to be a reasonably competent DIY-er, I don’t claim to be an expert in all areas so I spent a fair amount of time on YouTube sussing out some of the finer points.

I’ve decided that I don’t want to be a plumber when I grow up – I’m hindered by a lack of the necessary attributes, insofar as I’m not double-jointed, I don’t seem to be able to squish myself into the ludicrously small spaces that plumbers have to work in and I don’t have a deflatable head that can rotate through 180 degrees. Neither do I want to be a tiler. Or, for that matter, a painter and decorator. And I definitely, definitely don’t want anything more to do with sewage pipes.

Future career options aside, I finally got the bulk of the job done on the evening of the final day of my holiday, and was just admiring my handiwork when things went a bit pear-shaped. Whilst I was checking for leaks, one of the pipe joints inexplicably suffered a catastrophic failure, changing instantly from a boring bit of pipework to an impressive indoor water feature, which soaked me and everything in range before I remembered that I’d also installed an isolation valve which enabled me stem the torrent. A post-incident review identified the cause as a combination of component failure and installer incompetence – my inexperience as a plumber meant I didn’t spot the fault before I fitted said component. However, all is now well, the smell of damp plaster has subsided and I’m tentatively able to admire my handiwork, albeit with my fingers firmly crossed.

Unlikely as it may seem, I think there are several parallels between my latest DIY endeavours and many business continuity management programmes.

1) Starting from the ground up involves a lot of work. Whilst business continuity management isn’t particularly difficult or complicated, there are quite a few things to think about. I’m always banging on about the fact that effective business continuity management isn’t about writing a plan, rather it’s about developing a capability. In the same way that simply installing the sanitaryware without first sorting out the drainage (quite literally doing the groundwork, in this case) may have resulted in, how shall I put it?, a less satisfactory outcome than anyone would have liked, leaping straight into plan writing without thinking about the strategy and solutions that underpin it could result in similar dissatisfaction at the time of its use.

2) Being a business continuity practitioner requires a number of different skills. At various points in your business continuity programme you may well need to be a presenter, salesperson, negotiator, coach, trainer, strategist, planner, facilitator and probably a few other roles as well. Though hopefully not a plumber. A thick skin and a sense of humour can also be quite useful at times, as you’re almost certain to encounter the odd bit of resistance and the occasional setback.

3) Small doesn’t always mean simple. In fact keeping your business continuity plans concise whilst still including everything that needs to be in there can often be more challenging than creating a weighty tome.

4) Doing it yourself often has it’s benefits, particularly in terms of cost – at least in direct monetary terms. But it can result in serious delays to the process while you find out how to do things that you’re not overly familiar with, or because you end up doing something several times before you finally get it right. And you sometimes run the risk of getting it hopelessly wrong. So it can be very useful (and cost-effective) to get help or advice from people who have been there, seen it, done it and have the scars to prove it.

I’ve been back at work for a week now but I’ve still been spending quite a lot of time in the smallest room during the evenings. For the most part this has involved those little finishing-off jobs, such as touching up paintwork and fitting various accessories – largely chosen by Mrs Oz, I have to admit, as sadly I have little or no opinion on such things (I’m the same with soft furnishings). And, at the risk of giving too much information or being indelicate, occasionally putting my newly implemented plans into operation!

 

Related articles : “A cunning plan“; “Easy peasy“; “A BC capability vs. a BC plan“; “Make yourself a tome“; “A plan on a page

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

Leave a reply (below) 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 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

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