A cracking story (part 1)
A few weeks ago the powers that be decided it would be a good idea to re-surface the main road that runs from the village where I live to just about anywhere I want to go. This was a good thing, because several years of neglect and frequent patching up – a process that started almost immediately after the last major resurfacing programme finished (when pretty much anyone with a digger and a few cones was allowed to dig holes in it then apparently get a five-year old to fill it in and “level” it) – had resulted in a somewhat uneven surface.
Rather than scraping off the uneven top layer and re-surfacing it properly, however, the approach taken by said powers that be basically involved gluing a few stone chippings to the existing surface.
The process can be summarised as follows :
1) Implement a ridiculous convoy system to ensure minimum vehicle throughput and maximum disruption to road users and local residents;
2) Spray some liquid tar onto the road’s surface;
3) Tip a few tons of gravel onto the wet tar;
4) Leave for several weeks to allow plenty of time for several dozen windscreens (that’s windshields for my readers outside the UK who don’t name your car (or automobile) parts properly!) to be damaged. Incidentally, this isn’t just me being bitter and twisted, the windscreen repair man told me how good it had been for their business;
5) Close the road again a few weeks later (see also item 1) to paint some white lines on the tiny proportion of gravel that’s still stuck to the road;
6) Disappear, leaving the unevenness to reappear after just a few weeks.
Clearly this is our Local Authority’s concept of “value for money” that they’re always banging on about. I prefer to call it doing things on the cheap and getting what you paid for.
Anyway, during phase 4 of the process I became a contributor to the windscreen company’s increased revenue stream. Driving home one evening, a car coming in the opposite direction threw up a stone which hit my windscreen, resulting in a chip in the glass and a loud curse and heralding the start of the latest erosion of my sanity.
I ‘phoned the windscreen company and they came out to see if they could repair it, which would be done free of charge. During the examination, however, the small round chip inexplicably became a three-inch crack that couldn’t be repaired. A replacement windscreen was therefore required. Now, far be it from me to tell the windscreen company how to run its business but I couldn’t help thinking it would have been a reasonable idea to have put a windscreen in the van before they left the depot, just in case. They hadn’t. So I had to book another appointment, resulting in a re-arrangement of my diary, as it obviously had to be done on a date that was convenient for them, rather than the customer. Anyway, the windscreen was duly replaced, causing significant disruption to me but, on the plus side, at least they didn’t have to put themselves out, and I handed over £75 – the excess on my windscreen insurance policy.
Two weeks later, however, on a different road to the first, albeit one “maintained” by the same local authority, the car in front threw up a stone, which hit my lovely new windscreen and chipped it. The very next day, before I could book a repair, it happened again. This time the impact was right on the edge of the screen, resulting in a crack which, over the next few days, crept steadily towards the other side. This was definitely a replacement job and it ended up costing me another seventy-five quid.
It also cost me a huge rise in blood pressure due to the subsequent dealings with the windscreen company, but I’ll spare you the details until part 2, as I suspect you’re probably thinking I’ve ranted on long enough and it’s about time I got to the business continuity part. I have to agree.
Secondly, a proper job usually requires some investment, in time and/or money, and when you cut corners or do things on the cheap you usually get what you pay for. Effective business continuity management is no different. You can do a superficial job quite easily, but if you’re unwilling or unable to make the necessary investment in the strategy and solutions that underpin your plan, and the training, awareness, exercising and testing that develops your capability, you may well end up with something that looks OK on the surface but will fall to bits as soon as it’s put under any pressure.
I did consider telling you about the lump of something solid and fast-moving that bounced off my bonnet (that’s the hood for those of you outside the UK who don’t name your car parts properly!) and hit the top of my windscreen on the motorway (that’s the freeway, etc, etc!) just a few days after my second windscreen replacement but, apart from causing a brief recurrence of my Tourette’s problem, it didn’t cause any obvious lasting damage, so I won’t.
See you in part 2…
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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