A chap I know likes cars. “Likes” is, in fact, a massive understatement – he’s fanatical about them. And he particularly loves having a new one to play with, which is quite a regular occurrence, because he changes his cars only slightly less often than some people change their socks.
He’s had some fantastic cars. I know this because he waxes lyrical about the latest manifestation of his mid-life crisis pretty much every time I see him. All I can say is that he obviously buys them from a garage with huge windows as they quite clearly see him coming.
It might sound like I’m jealous but, honestly, I’m not. He has the wherewithal to indulge his (to my mind) ludicrously expensive hobby and I have absolutely no problem with that. What does irritate me just a teeny bit, though, is his assumption that I’m the slightest bit interested in hearing every last detail of his most recent purchase, which includes such riveting information as how much it cost, the engine size, brake horsepower, 0-60 speed, 0-100 speed, miles per gallon (almost certainly not many), wheel size, tyre profile, type of brakes, type of shock absorbers, type of seats, type of headlights, the materials used in every element of its construction, the precise colour of the paint, intimate details of the in-car ‘infotainment’ system (as I believe what we used to call the radio is now known), and pretty much every other specification that the most anoraky of anoraks could possibly know.
But each to their own.
It’s fair to say that my knowledge of cars isn’t quite as extensive. I know the make, model and colour of my current car (although recently, in a car park, I did try to open one that was not only not mine, but was a different make entirely – in fairness, it was the same colour and a vaguely similar shape). I know where to put the fuel in – and so far I’ve managed to remember what type to put in so as not to break it. On a good day I can remember the size of the engine if I’m asked, although, if I’m honest, not always. I know how the radio works – or at least how to turn it on, select a channel and alter the volume; likewise I have sufficient knowledge of the air conditioning and the satellite navigation system to operate them, albeit at a basic level (see ‘The ramblings of a travelling consultant, episode 4 (part 2)‘). Other than that, I have no clue as to any of the other details, particularly the aforementioned technical specifications, the knowledge of which I consider to be utterly superfluous to my needs.
My car gets me to my destination (usually – see ‘The ramblings of a travelling consultant, episode 7‘), it’s comfortable when I’m sitting in traffic for hours on end – a frequent feature of the UK’s overloaded road network, exacerbated by the breathtaking incompetence of our highways ‘planners’ (see also ‘A cracking story (part 1)‘), of which I could wax lyrical for hours, although I’ll spare you on this occasion – and it has more than enough grunt to easily exceed the UK’s speed limits and to beat the occasional boy-racer away from the lights. In short, it does the job and I don’t feel I need to know a fat lot about its innermost workings.
I think it’s also fair to say that some of us who do business continuity for a living, and therefore have a detailed understanding of its various component parts, are sometimes guilty of assuming that other people are interested in knowing about all that stuff too.
But many of these other (aka ‘normal’) people have plenty of other things to be interested in. Like profitability, or cash flow, or dealing with customers, or meeting production or sales targets, or managing suppliers, or delivering products or services on time, or dealing with employees, or business development, or managing projects, or a thousand and one other things. In short, they have real jobs to do and may not have the time, energy or inclination to delve into the intricacies of the business continuity process that we ‘experts’ have a tendency to get so wrapped up in.
All that many business people want to know is that their organisation’s business continuity arrangements will do what they need them to if they ever have to be activated and that their contribution to the process will help to ensure that, without being a huge drain on their precious time.
So we don’t necessarily need to ram the intricate details of the business continuity process down the throats of everyone in the organisation. Yes, we need to get input from certain key people to the business continuity plan and its associated strategies and solutions, and I’m not suggesting that it’s not important to get that input. What I am suggesting is that there’s a level of detail that they need to know, which may not be quite the same as the level of detail that we, as ‘experts’, like to impress people with our knowledge of.
I feel that I know enough about my car to be able to use it effectively – i.e. to be confident that it’ll get me from A to B safely and without too many major mishaps (see ‘The ramblings of a travelling consultant, episode 4 (part 1)‘, ‘It’s just not cricket‘ and ‘What’s the damage‘). Obviously I need to know how to drive it, and the bare minimum that I need to do to maintain it so that it doesn’t fall apart or conk out. But I have very little, if any, interest in the processes that were followed in order to build it. And I certainly don’t need some ‘expert’ giving me the ‘benefit’ of their detailed knowledge of every molecule of its construction. But maybe that’s just me.
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