Well, here I am in Vegas after a long, slightly delayed but otherwise uneventful flight.
After the standard cheery greeting at border control I wandered out into the Nevada sunshine and got a taxi to my hotel. The driver asked what I was doing in Vegas so I told him I was going to the IBM conference. He thought about it for a while, then asked “what is this IBM?”, which only goes to show that we shouldn’t assume anything.
I arrived, checked in, went up to my very nice room and, after finishing and posting my latest ‘Tip of the Month’ and sorting out my schedule for the week, I settled down for a lengthy ironing session. Because, despite being neatly folded and lovingly packed by Mrs Oz, all of my shirts looked like I’d slept in them.
The ironing didn’t go well. I should confess that Mrs Oz does most of the ironing at home, because I’m rubbish at it. Especially shirts. In fact, it’s fair to say that I’m pants at shirts. But this ironing went even less well than usual. First of all, the iron refused to heat up, then when it finally did it leaked about a pint of water on the first shirt, half a pint on the second and a cupful on the third. By the fourth shirt it had either got tired of the joke or run out of water. And by now I was in the groove so this shirt only took me about ten minutes to iron. Plus a couple of minutes to iron out the creases that I’d ironed in. Having finally finished I went into the bathroom and cut my throat. It seems that today my shaving was about as skilful as my ironing. I eventually staunched the bleeding, showered and got ready (which included putting on the only shirt dry and crease-free enough to wear) to go out.
I’d been invited to the social influencers’ reception. If you read my last blog you’ll know that, amongst the many other things I’ve been called over the years, I’m now considered (somewhat strangely in my view but there you go) to be a social influencer, at least by the most important people in my life this week, my hosts. There was, however, a teeny, tiny little problemette. On checking my notes from last week’s various calls and e-mails, I realised that, whilst I’d noted the time, I didn’t know the venue. I tried ‘phoning and e-mailing my various contacts but to no avail, so I wandered down to the lobby, hoping to see a bunch of social influencers congregated there (what is the collective noun for such a group, by the way? Please do post your suggestions). There were none to be seen. So I asked a very helpful man from IBM if he knew where the reception was. He didn’t, but he also tried calling my contacts and we left a voicemail message.
I walked over to the conference centre to look for the ‘social lounge’, where a couple of other social influencer-related events are taking place this week, thinking that might be a good bet. It wasn’t. So I spent a fruitless forty minutes wandering around the conference equivalent of the Marie Celeste, looking and asking the very nice, very helpful IBM people I bumped into. Unfortunately, none of them was able to help. So I went back to the hotel and, as Billy No-mates, had my own reception, which consisted of a greaseburger and a beer, wrote the first draft of this blog, then went to bed.
So what have we learned from today, from a business continuity point of view?
Well, firstly, as I’m always saying, we shouldn’t rely on assumption. Whilst we do have to make some assumptions from time to time, such as when we’re developing our business continuity plans, we should revisit, challenge and validate our assumptions as much, and as often, as possible. Assumption is, after all (as I’ve also said before – see ‘What’s up doc?‘) the mother of all foul-ups.
Secondly, we can’t always rely on our communications mechanisms. I tried a couple, neither of which was successful, the result of which was that I failed to meet my objective. Many business continuity plans rely on a limited number of mechanisms, particularly for mass communication to their stakeholders (such as an incident hotline or the organisation’s intranet). But a) no one mechanism is likely to reach everyone, b) often this type of communication is one-way, so we don’t know whether the message has actually been received and c) things fail from time to time, and usually at the most inconvenient time.
So, whilst today was a bit of a shambles, I’m sure tomorrow will be more successful. I’ve booked on some interesting sounding presentations, so I’m looking forward to the conference. I’ll let you know how it goes.
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