Two emails from international colleagues caught my eye this week.
- “As you may be aware, Australia is knee deep in snake-infested flood water just now. As a result we are currently attempting to pull together a coordinated series of communications for our clients around how to deal with this catastrophe.
We are assuming that not everybody will have a business continuity plan in place. Have any of you seen or produced any materials that advise clients on the steps that they should be taking in response to a major natural disaster?”
- “The recent news coming from Egypt has caused many of our clients with operations in that country to activate their Crisis Management Plans. Some clients have found that this has gone well and some have had to make it up as they went along. This situation has caused many of our clients at the Executive and Board Levels to begin to question the completeness of their organizations' existing Crisis Recovery and Business Opportunity Plans as relates to any aspect of their business.
In a situation like this it becomes quickly apparent that these plans must address delicate personnel issues, complex asset protection issues, broad based business continuity issues as well as information recovery and management issues. “
When something goes as badly wrong, as it has done in both these countries, conventional business continuity and crisis management is usually found wanting.
There is an increasingly strong case for raising our game to look at how we would or could respond to unthinkable events.
At times like this there is no substitute for effective leaders who understand what needs to be done and who lead with vision and clarity about what the future should look like. These leaders will look beyond the usual boundaries and hierarchies and respond with the unthinkable.
I recall one client responding magnificently to Hurricane Katrina – hiring aircraft and flying in generators; and housing, clothing, and feeding their employees. This was not planned for, although the business continuity plans did help. The response was based on empowered local leadership who understood what they were doing, and who were capable of thinking outside the box.