I was chatting to a former client, now good friend and trusted advisor this week. We were discussing the challenge of engaging people in the topic of business resilience and specifically, the fact that for your target audience (in their case – General Manager, Site Managers, SHE Managers) ensuring business continuity is often only one small fraction of their already busy daily job. And add to that, that if things are going well, all that planning won’t be needed! Of course, the pandemic has reminded us in many ways that this is not a perfect world and things happen which can knock us sideways and make operating to as near normal as possible harder and that planning for it is vital.
My friend’s approach to engaging people in the topic (when you don’t need to make your audience experts in ISO22301 but you do need them to have a level of understanding enough that they can develop robust recovery plans) was to start by using analogies. We started talking about cars.
Like a business – your car is moving forward on the journey, trying to get from A to B. That car is made up of lots of parts (think value chain). The driver (resilience team) doesn’t necessarily know how they all work, but that if some of them go wrong mid-drive – it can make a hell of an impact on your ability to reach your destination safely and on time. So as car owners (leaders), we plan ahead. We join the AA or RAC so someone else helps our recovery. We carry a spare tyre. The recovery plan in our heads might say ‘change the tyre’ – great. But do we know how? And if we do know how, do we know the risks involved in putting the plan into practice? The need to make sure the car is on a flat, level and secure surface when you’re changing it. The realisation that once that spare tyre is on, you no longer have a spare anymore and how long can you / should you drive (operate) like that for? Because building business resilience demands the detail in business continuity and crisis management planning. It’s about truly understanding what’s critical to enable you to keep going (four wheels), what the threats might be to that critical part (a nail? broken glass), the potential impact (of a flat tyre – skid off the road? Crash? Loss of vehicle? Life?), the risk of it happening (if you drive down that road full of broken glass and nails it’s probably more likely) and then planning – very specifically – how to minimise and mitigate against the risks and how to respond quickly and effectively.
The car analogy may be an over-simplification but it’s a start to engaging people in this vital process. We’ve helped many organisations over the years to strengthen their business resilience through continuity and crisis management planning and importantly helping them to engage their people in why it matters and the ‘how to’. We’ve used fictional scenarios and simulations to work through what needs to be considered. We’ve trained those non-experts to be the person who knows how to put that plan together and help execute it.
Different analogies work for different audiences. Cars? Building the plane while flying? What analogies work for you in putting resilience on the radar? I’d love to hear them.