Singularly unsuccessful

I write this blog with a heavy heart. Regrettably I have to inform you that the sock situation at Chez Oz (see ‘The odd problem‘) has, after an all-too-brief respite, suffered something of a relapse. In fact, it’s taken a distinct turn for the worse. Following a period of absence the boys are, undeniably, back in town. That’s to say my prodigal sons, have, albeit briefly and intermittently, returned, with all the joy – and washing – that brings. And, incredible as it may seem, despite my previous protestations and, as it turns out, futile attempts to lay down the law, the Evesham single-sock mountain has got bigger rather than smaller.

I really don’t know what to do. I’ve tried asking nicely. I’ve tried asking not-quite-so-nicely. The other day I had a strop of gargantuan proportion. Did it make any difference? Yes, you’ve guessed, not in the slightest.

The reason is quite simple. The clue is in the word ‘sons’. The reason is that whatever I say, they just can’t, if you’ll pardon the vernacular, be arsed to carry out any of the sock-related processes I’ve requested. I realise that one typically has to communicate using words of very few syllables if one wants the average teenager and ‘young adult’ to comprehend, but comprehension really isn’t the issue here. These are, after all, university-educated creatures. In fact, they’re the future of of the Osborne bloodline – which is a really disturbing thought.

No, the real issue here isn’t intelligence or understanding, it’s good, old-fashioned can’t-be-arsed-ness. Because we’re not talking about hugely complex processes here. In fact, we’re talking about very, very simple processes. Like putting one’s socks (both of them, that is, just so we’re clear on this) in the laundry basket when one divests one’s self of said socks; or selecting a pair rather than just two random ones when one re-socks in the morning (or, as often as not, given the teenager/young adult thing, mid-to-late afternoon). And maybe, just maybe, not leaving them inside out after removing them, although that might just be a bridge too far.

The thing is, teenagers and young adults have better things to do – like sleeping; or watching TV; or playing computer games for hours on end; or playing their f(lipp)ing awful music (yes, it’s official, I am turning into my father) or their guitars – both of which they play far too loudly, obviously, but let’s not go there; or going out with their mates; or just generally being in the way in a non-contributory manner.

Let’s face it, if they can’t bring the cups, glasses, plates, cutlery, beer cans, take-away cartons and other items that it’s probably best not to itemise, down from their rooms until just before said items crawl out on their own, then what chance is there that they’ll follow the dual-sock procedures?

Believe it or not, there is actually some kind of business continuity parallel here, and it’s this…

Whether we like it or not, the fact is that people don’t keep their business continuity plans up to date because they have better things to do. Like talking to customers; or developing products and services; or marketing said products and services; or taking orders; or counting money; or paying staff or suppliers; or working out ingenious ways to avoid paying tax; or hiring and firing people; or worrying about exchange rate fluctuations; and a whole host of more urgent/important/interesting (delete as appropriate) things to do with their time.

It never ceases to amaze me how many people find time in amongst all of that stuff to book their holidays or do their online shopping or manage their social (or social media) lives while they’re at work, but then that stuff’s clearly far more urgent/important/interesting to them than updating a business continuity plan too.

So we need to give people a reason to do it. Like, for instance, making business continuity activities part of their job specifications and objectives. I’ve said it before and will, I’m sure, say it again many times – if people don’t have a vested interest in doing something, then why should we expect them to do it when they have plenty of other things vying for their attention? Things, incidentally, that their bonuses or continued employment depend upon.

You can guarantee that people have stuff in their objectives about talking to customers or developing products and services or all of the other things listed above, but precious few have anything at all to do with business continuity in there. So is it really that much of a surprise that they focus on those other things and not on their business continuity plans? I’m sorry, but it’s not rocket science!

Returning briefly to the sock situation. I guess I have a few choices.

I could carry on trying to negotiate a resolution, which has been spectacularly ineffective so far. Or I could take my own advice and put something in their personal objectives, although the chances of getting them to sign up to them are slim in the extreme as, sadly, I don’t think I’m actually allowed to sack them. And, anyway, they’re both bigger than me! Or I could take the “if you can’t beat ’em join ’em” approach and start wearing odd socks myself. But that would be somewhat defeatist.

So, after careful consideration, I’ve decided on a more radical solution. I’m going to have a cull, and thin them out so that they’re less daunting. That’s the odd socks, by the way, not my sons!

 

Related article : ‘Project or Process

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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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