Sticking it to them
Many organisations, quite rightly, recognise the importance of education and awareness in their business continuity programmes. Indeed, some spend significant amounts of time, money and other resources on awareness-raising activities. Sadly, though, all too often these efforts fail to gain people’s interest, let alone embed any level of awareness. So why is it that so many business continuity awareness programmes are ineffective? The answer is twofold.
Firstly, at the risk of offending large numbers of business continuity practitioners and consultants, the sad fact is that quite a lot of business continuity training or awareness sessions just aren’t very interesting. At least not to the audience that they’re being delivered to. Whilst business continuity principles and lifecycles and standards, and the myriad acronyms and abbreviations (see ‘Mind your language‘ and ‘It’s not big and it’s not clever!‘) that are constantly bandied about, may be interesting to someone whose working life revolves around them, the reality is that most of those who live outside the business continuity ecosystem just aren’t that turned on by them.
Secondly, there’s a thing called the ‘forgetting curve’. This, depending on your preference and level of cynicism, is either a mathematical formula, a psychological phenomenon or a statement of the blooming obvious, the gist of which is that over time we forget things we’ve learned if we don’t do something to make them stick. Therefore, whilst a one-off presentation or an exercise or table-top walkthrough every year or two might get you a tick in the audit or compliance box, it will do little, if anything to reduce the steepness of said forgetting curve.
So, remembering that most people don’t live and breathe business continuity and taking into account the forgetting curve, those of us involved in awareness-raising should a) do our utmost to make our sessions a little more interesting and relatable (to our audiences, that is, not to our fellow business continuity geeks) and b) find ways to regularly remind people, preferably through practical application of what they’ve learned, so that at least some of it sticks.