With increasing regularity these days I seem to find myself asking the question “why am I here?”. Not in any deep, philosophical way, I hasten to add; rather when I’ve gone from one room to another then can’t remember why. Just the other day I got halfway upstairs before I remembered that we now have the requisite facilities downstairs (see “Time off in loo”). Worse still, I have been known to stand at the top of the stairs wondering whether I’d just gone up or was about to go down. And vice-versa.
And the number of times that, during a conversation – or, worse still, a presentation – I’ve asked the question (not expecting an answer, of course, as I don’t tend to do many presentations to groups of psychics) “what’s the word I’m looking for?”, having gone completely blank, is…erm…
The bizarre thing is that, almost as regularly, I’m able to dredge up some obscure incident, phrase, song lyric or whatever that I haven’t thought about for decades. The other day, for instance, in conversation with Mrs Oz, I remembered, without any trouble at all, the names of a couple of obscure bands from the 1970s, along with the names and, even more amazingly, the years that some of their records (yes kids, records – that’s what we used to call them in the olden days) were released. Goodness knows where that came from, given that most of the time I can’t remember what I did last week.
I suppose, when I think about it, memory lapses often occur at times of stress (apart from the “why am I here?” issue, obviously, which is almost certainly an age thing) – for instance, when we’re having to deal with a difficult situation, or one that’s outside our comfort zone.
The activities associated with invoking our crisis management or business continuity plans can be just such a situation, when the associated stress and adrenaline can make us forget even the most basic things. Such as what our priorities are; or who’s dealing with which issues; or logging our events and decisions; or that we promised to call someone important at a certain time; or that we’re able to speak a foreign language (yes, really, this has actually happened); or that we do, in fact, have a crisis management or business continuity plan with some useful information in it.
So, whilst some things may seem blindingly obvious in the cold light of day when we’re creating our plans, we really should try to imagine the situation we may be in when we’re using those plans in anger, which might just be a teeny bit tense and stressful. That’s not to say that we need to document absolutely everything we can think of in minute detail, but we might consider including the stuff that’s really important for us to remember – such as our key priorities, our critical dependencies, our CARE message, our “what if?” and “so what?” questions, and so forth – to provide an aide-mémoire when we most need it.
Of course, none of this will be much use if we do then forget that we have a plan in the first place, and therefore don’t even look at it – which is more common than you might think.
The mind is a curious thing. If you’re anything like me, there will be times when you amaze yourself with the stuff you can recall and other times when you need just a little bit of guidance to help you remember whether you’re supposed to be going up or down the proverbial stairs.
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