Oz's Business Continuity Blog 

The odd problem

I have a drawer where my socks live when they’re off-duty. Doubtless some of you reading this have a sock drawer too. And, like mine, yours probably contains the odd odd sock.

There are, at any given time, up to ten male feet at Chez Oz. Four of them don’t count for the purposes of this blog as they belong to Barney the spaniel, who doesn’t wear socks. I’ve never even considered it as an option, although a quick Google search or a peek at your favourite online supplier of essential pet paraphernalia’s website will show that it is now eminently possible for you to buy doggie-socks for your favourite pooch – assuming, of course, that you have a screw loose.

But I digress. That’s four permanent and two intermittent sock-wearing feet of the male variety – intermittent in terms of them being under the same roof, which they are at the moment, being back from university ’til September (see “University challenge“), as opposed to intermittently sock-clad (which, now I come to think about it, is often the case too). So that’s quite a lot of socks. Unfortunately, for me at any rate, all six of those feet are similarly sized. So my socks tend to get “shared” (please note I didn’t use the word “stolen” as that would almost certainly aggravate an already tense situation). I’ve recently taken to buying new pairs in secret every now and then and hiding them in other places, just so I can be sure of finding a pair when I need them.

With so many socks around, I suppose I should expect us to have more than the average number of odd ones. But this morning I rummaged around in my sock drawer and couldn’t find a matching pair at all. What I did find was an inordinate number of odd socks. So I had another rummage, this time through the laundry basket containing a shed-load of clean socks that Mrs Oz had kindly washed, bless her. I managed to find a few pairs, but in the meantime I turned up a staggering number of additional odd ones, very few of which matched the odd ones in my sock drawer. Go on, have a guess. If you guessed at twenty-three then congratulations are in order – or, more likely, commiserations, as it probably means you’re in a similar situation to me. Yes, twenty-three odd socks. I kid you not.

Which begs the question where are the other twenty-three? Where on earth do they all go? Even allowing for the occasional holey sock that gets thrown out whilst it’s mate is accidentally left behind; or the odd one lurking unseen at the bottom of a laundry basket or under the detritus covering a teenager’s bedroom floor (see “Delving into the depths“); or the fact that teenagers don’t seem to care whether they’re wearing a pair or not, as long as they have one on each foot; or Barney, who, to be fair, is the first dog we’ve ever had who doesn’t steal, bury or eat socks, you’d still expect to be able to match up most of them wouldn’t you? But no, the number of estranged socks is reaching epic proportions.

Is there some strange, distant relative of the tooth fairy (presumably a one-legged one) with a sock fetish? In which case it would be nice if, like their dentally-fixated counterparts, they left some money in place of the removed socks, if only as a contribution towards my secret sock-stashing activity. Or is it just poor sock management on my part? I really can’t fathom it. All I know is that what could once be relied upon to deliver the expected result, paired-sock-wise, seems to have gone completely to pot.

So, from odd socks to business continuity management. This could be a bit of a challenge but here goes…

Sock drawers aren’t the only places where things get lost. It’s amazing how often, when I do a business continuity health check or audit and ask to see something, the answer that comes back is along the lines of “oh yes, I think we have one of those somewhere”, followed by much scratting around trying to find it. Or “IT/Facilities/Fred/<insert name here> keeps those records – although I haven’t actually seen them”. Now I don’t know what you think but, in my humble opinion, a bunch of loosely related, vaguely known-about documents scattered around the organisation doesn’t really constitute a proper business continuity management system.

And actions often get lost too. Like the follow-up actions from an exercise,  test, health check or audit, or the planned risk mitigation measures that never actually get implemented. Usually because there’s either no central log or because no-one’s been given responsibility for overseeing the completion of said actions. Which, again, in my just-as-humble opinion, doesn’t constitute a robust business continuity management system.

And I often come across odd things. Not in the sense of them being one of a pair but in the sense of being out of place or unnecessary – like, for instance, the fire evacuation procedure that appears in oh, so many business continuity plans (see “A bumpy landing“).

I could go on (I’m on a roll now!), but I’ll just briefly mention one other old chestnut before I wrap up, and that’s the all-too-common issue of business and IT continuity not being joined up.

Things will no doubt improve dramatically in the sock department (and, I suspect in several others, which I won’t go into here) come September, when four of the offending feet will be at university. At which point, if you know how to get in touch with the one-legged sock pixie do let me know, as I have a job-lot of merchandise that they might be interested in.

Related articles : “IT’s not business continuity“; “Love and marriage“; “The whole caboodle


Agree? Disagree? Want to share your own thoughts or opinions?

Leave a reply (below) 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 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



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