2019 California Wildfires and Business Continuity

Patrick Meidenbauer Patrick Meidenbauer | Nov 13, 2019

3 Focuses of an Effective Crisis Management Response

As massive fires and power outages impacted hundreds of thousands of people throughout California recently, one of Avalution’s clients had to respond as they learned that nearly 50% of their San Francisco-based employees were without power at their homes, there was heavy smoke throughout the area, and employees’ children were out of school. These types of facility and personnel impacts happen year-round, in every state, with every type of business. As I was meeting with this client’s Crisis Management Team, I reflected on the most important steps for businesses dealing with disruptions.

Each night at 8 PM during the week of the disruption, this organization’s Crisis Management Team met to analyze the situation and to confirm the best actions to take. This organization has made business continuity a priority for the past five years — reevaluating the program’s scope, completing annual business impact analysis and plan refreshes, developing detailed recovery strategies, exercising, and involving top management in decision-making. It was inspiring to see this team in action and the confidence in which they moved through their response strategy. The organization’s response to an actual crisis is a true testament to proactively focusing on Business Continuity and the value of disaster preparedness

As I thought about this organization’s decisions — determining to activate their Crisis Management Plan, allowing parents to bring children to the office, offering pay to hourly employees who couldn’t make it into work temporarily, and shifting operations to an alternate site — three thoughts crossed my mind:

  1. The organization was prepared
  2. The team was effective in decision-making
    1. The team reacted quickly
    2. Team members knew what their responsibilities were
    3. The team effectively drove towards decisions, rather than discussion
  3. The company focused on making the best decisions for its employees and customers

Immediately following a disruption, leaders are faced with competing priorities and issues. Leadership is concerned with keeping operations running, employees want to know how decisions will impact them, individuals are focused on their health and safety, and customers expect product and service delivery to continue as if nothing has happened. In the face of these disruptions, it is easy to get bogged down, confused, and disorganized.

For businesses faced with a disruption, it’s critical to focus on the needs of the organization’s employees and customers –leveraging effective decision making to drive fast actions. While these steps may seem obvious, during a disaster actions that may seem apparent during planning can often be overlooked. It’s during these times, that effective business continuity planning comes into play.

If you have any questions about business continuity planning or crisis management response, please reach out! Additionally, you can find out more about Avalution and our approach – the Business Continuity Operation System. We would love to talk about your organization and its Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery needs.

Business Continuity Engagement Template