Business Continuity Tip of the Month

We’re only human

A previous tip (‘Self, self, self‘) discussed the lack of consideration in most business continuity plans for people’s feelings post-incident, in the context of how this, and their personal responsibilities, might make it impossible for them to drop everything and come to the aid of the organisation. 

Another consideration that’s just as often overlooked is that how people are feeling might impact on their ability to respond, even if they are willing and able to do so.

Because, depending on the incident in question, stress, fear, panic or other emotions may well render people incapable of clear or rational thought, or of following complicated instructions. In which case, what they absolutely don’t need is a forty, fifty or sixty-plus page, highly detailed plan – particularly one that they’ve never seen before.

In these circumstances, what people really need are simple, easy-to-follow processes and/or clear, concise instructions, that don’t come as a surprise, because they’ve been adequately briefed and trained on them in advance.

And, by the way, this applies as much to the senior people in the crisis or incident management team as it does to the more junior people ‘on the ground’. Because, like it or not, we’re all human and we’re all subject, to varying degrees, to those feelings and emotions and their potential impacts.

It’s important that we recognise these issues and address them in our planning by :

  • Ensuring that we have alternates or deputies to key personnel;
  • Simplifying our plans as much as possible, perhaps substituting verbiage with checklists, flowcharts or other diagrams; 
  • Raising awareness of said plans and people’s roles and responsibilities in the event that they’re activated; 
  • Exercising and testing, which should involve, in one form or another, everyone who’s likely to be involved – which means not concentrating solely on the ‘big hitters’ in the crisis or incident management team.

Alternatively, we could do none of the above and just keep our fingers crossed.



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