Overcoming Preparedness Fatigue

OPF perspectiveAll Business continuity professionals eventually face the prospect of preparedness fatigue in their organization.  In the absence of a crisis affecting the organization, even a competitor or a large-scale disaster that wakes the organization’s leadership team to the reality of business continuity preparedness, management attention often wanes and begins to focus on other competing, pressing matters.  In the absence of an event or other external mandate, how do you keep management engaged and willing to continuously invest in organizational preparedness?

  1. Differentiation – Present organizational wins due to the investment made in business continuity.  More and more business continuity teams deliver scorecards designed to measure preparedness based on an internal policy or standard.  Take this message one step further – quantify and qualify market differentiation and successes that came as a result of business continuity preparedness.  More and more customers are making inquiries concerning business continuity capability – be sure to highlight the wins that result.
  2. Reputational Improvement – Develop ways to leverage the investment in business continuity to improve the organization’s reputation.  A number of leading organizations are expanding the mandate of the business continuity professional to identify ways to assist the public (and the public sector) during a crisis.  Yes, it’s a good thing to do in and of itself, but it’s also a great way of developing stronger relationships with key customers.  During the San Diego Wild Fires, do you remember Target setting up mini stores and pharmacies at Qualcomm Stadium? Both are examples of creating value and improving the organization’s reputation by leveraging business continuity investment.
  3. Beyond the Plan – Many business professionals think the plan document is the same as business continuity preparedness.  Unfortunately, in some organizations, this may be the case.  But by building business continuity process into day-to-day decision-making and organizational change management processes, your employees will barely know they are already planning for business and technology interruptions (and expanding the completeness and currency of business continuity strategies at the same time).
  4. Exercise – Scenario-based exercises keep people engaged.  Consider creative techniques with relevant, realistic and impactful scenarios – and be sure to engage the audiences with insightful and entertaining methods to get them to better understand response and recovery techniques, and proactively identify methods to improve organizational preparedness.
  5. Case Studies – Stay on top of current events, even those that don’t necessarily make headlines.  Develop short presentations highlighting actual business interruptions and how your organization can apply the resulting lessons learned.
  6. Benchmark – Executive managers strive to compare themselves to other organizations.  Consider leveraging benchmarking data and even outside assessments that draw parallels to other organizations in your industry, or organizations of a similar size or with a similar risk tolerance level.  Share your organization’s business continuity strengths, as well as opportunities for improvement.  For the latter, be sure to highlight the resulting business risk and what it will take to improve.
  7. Creative Awareness Techniques – Instead of trying to push the business continuity preparedness agenda on your schedule, consider developing awareness materials that can be accessed 24/7 at a time convenient for your business clients.  Intranet-based content, your organization’s readiness scorecard and even web-based presentations highlighting expectations are all popular ways to promote the program and keep employees engaged.
  8. Risk Management Integration – Consider getting involved in related risk management efforts and work to create business value elsewhere in the organization.  In some companies, succession planning and records management are hot topics.  Introduce what you know and have learned to help speed the organization along toward its business objectives – odds are, you’ll gain allies willing to promote the importance of business continuity along the way.

Before concluding, business continuity professionals should continuously perform a self-assessment, asking the question – are we doing too much and ignoring competing requirements, and are we failing to offer a strong value proposition specific to organizational preparedness?  If this is the case, none of the ideas above may help, and instead, a more defined business continuity strategic plan that aligns with the organization’s strategic plan is in order.

This perspective is not meant to offer a one-size-fits-all approach to keep your organization focused on business continuity.  Instead, based on your organization’s culture and challenges, give consideration to each of these ideas and customize accordingly.  If you have additional ideas or proven techniques, please email them to [email protected] and we’ll update this perspective right away.