Oz's Business Continuity Blog 

Who cares?

You may be surprised to hear this (unless, of course, you’ve been a reader of my blogs for a while or are a member of my family) but I’m possibly not the world’s most tolerant person. Particularly in the face of rudeness, inconsiderateness and lack of common sense, which, unfortunately, seem to pervade the world these days – mine at any rate (see “Is it just me? (part 1)“, “Is it just me? (part 2)” and “Horses for courses“). Oh, and teenagers. I do, however, like to think that I have a reasonably caring nature – although a recent experience caused me to re-examine this notion.

On the occasion in question, I left home just before 6am, on my way to a client meeting a couple of hours drive from Chez Oz. At least I tried to leave, but I found my driveway blocked by a car. Closer inspection revealed a second car parked next to it. This one was a police car. The give-away was the fluorescent stripe down the side of it – that and the flashing blue lights. I wandered over to investigate and spotted several other vehicles – a second police car, an ambulance, another car parked at a jaunty angle across the road and a motorcyclist lying next to it, being tended by a paramedic.

After establishing that the motorcyclist was alive (I told you I had a caring nature) I politely enquired of the nearest chap in uniform when I might be able to get past the blockage. I didn’t really get the answer I was looking for.

You see, the emergency services didn’t care that I had an important appointment. The motorcyclist didn’t care about my appointment either. In fact he didn’t seem to give a monkey’s about me generally, for some reason. Nor did the car driver who had knocked him off his motorbike. The chap parked across my drive, who, it would appear, had just stopped to have a gawp, didn’t seem to care about anything other than his morbid fascination. After a few words of “encouragement” from me he eventually, and somewhat grudgingly, moved his car so I could get off my drive and on my way, now twenty minutes later than planned.

Worst of all, I didn’t really care about any of them either – after all I had my meeting to go to and I was now late. In fairness I had had another quick look at the motorcyclist and, whilst he was still sitting in the road, he did still have all of his limbs attached, there was no obvious gore and he was talking to one of the policemen, so I wasn’t being completely heartless. Another policeman and the paramedic were chatting about the fact that they were nearing the end of their respective shifts, so the focus of their concern also appeared to have shifted from the victim.

The point is that no-one really cared about anyone or anything other than themselves and their respective priorities. I couldn’t help thinking that, despite any assurances to the contrary, the majority of the people I was due to meet probably wouldn’t really care what my excuse was for being late, just that I wasn’t there at the agreed time.

From a business continuity perspective – and this is borne out by the experiences of several of my clients – in the event of some sort of crisis or disaster or major incident or disruption (whichever terminology you prefer to use), your various stakeholders are unlikely to care too much about your problems, particularly if your problems cause them problems. Yes, they might show some sympathy initially but that sympathy tends to be short-lived. Because, like all of us, what they really care about is the impact on them; on their own situation and their own priorities. Which implies that you need to factor this into your thinking vis-à-vis your crisis or incident management planning and, more specifically, your crisis communications planning.

I suppose there’s a possibility that you might not agree with me on this. But, to be brutally honest, I don’t really care!


Related articles : “A reasonable assumption?“; “The big issue“; “It ain’t what you do, it’s the way that you say it


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




3 responses to “Who cares?”

  1. Chris Baker says:

    That’s a very perceptive insight into the human condition!
    The big picture is usually overshadowed by personal concerns for the affected person, their service being down, their not be able to meet some personal objective. Their inability to sign up another deal etc. Perhaps the big boss might care about more than one of them, but overall they will care mostly about how much the problem is costing them.

    Life eh?

  2. Richard Hall says:

    Blah blah blah – I haven’t got all day to read this blog! 🙂
    How true this is Andy, it is unfortunately a me me world we seem to live in.

    An observation from my past – directly related to BC (for a change)
    This comes from the floods of 2007.
    A somewhat irate query coming from a CMT dealing with a severely flooded technical site – “Why isn’t the senior engineer on site?”
    The response: “He’s sandbagging up his own house”

    We may have great BC Plans in place, with roles and responsibilities allocated etc. but have they taken into consideration how wide the incident may have impacted, and how that could impact on the resource directly available to deal with our incident.
    Given the choice of protecting your home and family or the office, which would you choose?!

  3. Andy says:

    Chris and Richard,

    Interesting comments, thank you.

    When I wrote this blog I was thinking more about stakeholders such as customers or recipients of services, but you’re absolutely right, we also need to consider other important stakeholders such as employees who may have their own issues to deal with, at which point the organisations problems often become secondary to their own. The assumptions we make about what they might be willing or able to do are, in my experience, often flawed and all-too-often go unchallenged.

    Thanks for raising that important point.

    All the best,

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