When an incident happens that is out of the norm of, whether your employees respond appropriately is largely a matter of behaviour. The scope and impact(s) of the incident will have a bearing on the responses that follow. Much of what happens will depend upon the qualities and preparedness of those that field the problem, together with their abilities to cope.

Clarity of thought is also a valuable attribute when the unusual happens, and the ability to sort what is important from what is not important, and quickly settle into ways of resolving the difficulties will determine who is better situated to handle and manage the event.

One issue that raises its head is follower-ship because this is what most people will want.  It does not necessarily follow that the leader is the most senior person involved and it is helpful to accept that leadership may come from unlikely sources. When a swarm of bees flies into the Boardroom when it is in mid session then you need a beekeeper!

Business Continuity is, amongst other things, engaging in behaviours appropriate to the unwanted circumstances that present themselves. Furthermore, to deal with one issue at a time presumes the issues arise one after another. However if a number of issues hit you at the same time they can easily split or divert responses and force prioritisation as a driver in determining outcomes.

Success may come from dealing with multiple solutions at the same time. They may be derived from results-based conclusions and it is preferable if they are firmly rooted in common sense. Whoever leads the efforts to resolve the effects of serious and unwanted circumstances will likely do so in the belief that they are doing their best in dealing with the unusual.

There are those incidents that are defined as recognised “disasters” simply because of how they present. So to the question, “Is this a disaster?” when there is a raging fire, the answer is unmistakable. But when the incident is not so clear, then the answer to the same question may depend upon other factors.

In the case of a power outage for example, it may start as an inconvenience, but its continuance changes as it starts to engulf safeguards and can turn from something that appears quite minor into a full blown catastrophe. Even the timing of a power outage can have an impact. In August 2003 a computer failure in Ohio created a blackout across the Northeast of USA and Canada affecting around 55 million people and as bad as this was, had it happened in  winter where sub-zero temperatures plummet dramatically with wind chill then the outcomes would have been far worse. Furthermore the scale of this particular incident meant that contingencies were rendered inadequate.

When one or more serious incidents strike, two things are for sure. The first is that you will be ambushed and the second is that work-in-progress will be the primary victim. And whilst there may be other issues, these two will be your ‘starter for ten’ in dealing with Business Continuity Management. To use an analogy, learning to drive gets easier the more lessons you have; and from competence comes confidence.

Whilst being prepared may help, it is not a guaranteed solution. Any training or coaching in how to behave in extreme situations will prepare individuals and organisations in how to deal with matters that would otherwise undermine corporate objectives.

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