As is the Oz family’s wont – in a tradition going back as far as, let me see now, oh yes, the Christmas before last – we spent Christmas skiing. So, whilst a number of my readers were sweating over my Christmas competition, we were off enjoying ourselves!
We went back to Pila, in the Italian Alps, because we enjoyed it so much there last year (see “A white Christmas“). There was plenty of snow – which, to be fair, is pretty much a pre-requisite for a good skiing holiday – and the weather was generally good, with the exception of one foggy day and one snowy day when the visibility was a bit iffy. It didn’t stop us skiing though. Not a bit of it. I love skiing and it’d take more than the small matter of not being able to see where I’m going to keep me off the slopes.
Amazingly, I managed not to injure myself – provided you don’t count the skinned knuckles, sustained whilst showing my son how to remove the inner boots from his ski boots. I pointed out that he should make sure he didn’t skin his knuckles in the process and felt that a practical demonstration of how easy it was to do so was in order. Twice. Blooming ski boots – I hate them! But then you probably already know that (see “Ski boots & celery”).
Now I like to think that one of my innate talents is an ability to get on with people. To a certain extent it goes with the job, as during the course of an assignment I might have to talk to board members, departmental managers, technical specialists and various other people. Even accountants and salespeople. And in my role as chairman of our local hockey club I have to deal with, relate to and generally not offend all types of people, of all ages and from various backgrounds.
I think it’s fair to say that in most business or social situations involving interaction with other people I’m pretty diplomatic, tolerant and considerate. In order to stop Mrs Oz’s guffawing at this point, I should point out that (as people who know me well will know) there is an ever-so-slightly less tolerant and diplomatic Oz lurking below the surface that has been known to pop up just occasionally, given the right circumstances. Usually in the face of faceless bureaucracy or when people are rude or inconsiderate to those around them, particularly when it’s me that’s around them. I admit that I do tend to have the occasional tolerance bypass in these situations.
Inconsiderate dog owners for instance (see “Horses for courses“); or people who jump the queue; or surly shop assistants; or most of the other drivers I encounter on the roads these days; or companies that cold call me at home; or people who shout into their mobile ‘phones on trains, particularly when they’re in the quiet carriage; or technology that doesn’t work as it’s supposed to (like the so-called computer I’m trying to use now as it happens!); or those flipping snowboarders with no concept of piste etiquette. Oh, and teenagers, obviously. Ok, I admit it, it is quite a long list when you look at it like that. But certain situations just bring out the grumpy old man in me.
Like the extremely loud and obnoxious family that exploded into the hotel lounge where a bunch of us were sat quietly reading, doing crosswords or staring intently at their tablets (that’s tablet computers, incidentally, as opposed to any sort of medication), and proceeded to voice their unwelcome and somewhat bigoted opinions at 97 decibels without a thought for anyone else. Actually, I was very good. I simply packed away my crossword and quietly went to my room, manfully resisting the temptation to point out the error of their ways, which is what I really wanted to do. You see – tact and diplomacy in action. And anyway, my good friend Richard was there and I thought that if there was any offence to be meted out he was far more qualified than me to do the meting (see “Horses for courses” – again).
And like the couple who, at first sight seemed friendly enough, but who weren’t the slightest bit interested in talking about anything or anyone other than themselves. We tried to be friendly and make polite conversation but there’s only so much one-way traffic that I’m willing to put up with when I’m not being paid for it!
It makes it sound like I had a miserable time, which couldn’t be further from the truth. We met some really nice people as well as the offensive ones and the skiing was fantastic. The food was generally very good too – especially the eleven course meal that the hotel served us on Christmas eve!
And I had chance to practice my Italian, which is a rare treat these days (for me, if not the recipient of my mumblings). I do actually speak a bit of Italian, so it’s not just phrase book and Google Translate stuff. I used to speak quite a lot of Italian, but, because I get very little opportunity to practice these days, I’ve forgotten more than I can remember. I had a go, but in all honesty I was pretty rubbish until about day six when it started to come together – just in time for us coming home.
And so to the business continuity bit. Well, where shall I start?
1) Skiing is easy when the conditions are good, but it’s not quite so easy when conditions are a bit more challenging – like when you can’t see what’s in front of you. In a similar vein, crisis management isn’t the same as day-to-day business management and dealing with the media or customers in a crisis is really not the same as normal PR or day-to-day communications, and therefore requires different skills and abilities.
2) Like my fading Italian language skills, if we don’t practice we become rusty. And the time to find out that we can’t hack it any more isn’t when we’re faced with a situation where we need to come up with the goods. So we need to regularly practice and rehearse if we don’t want to forget the stuff we’ve learned.
3) In the same way that we sometimes come across shallow and superficial people, I’ve seen plenty of shallow and superficial business continuity plans that, when you scratch the surface, have absolutely no substance.
I think that’s probably enough for now, don’t you? I’ve got to go now anyway – my anger management class starts in ten minutes!
Agree? Disagree? Want to share your own thoughts or opinions?
Leave a reply and let me know what you think.
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 two books ‘Practical Business Continuity Management‘ and ‘Risk Management Simplified‘ 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