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2 posts from June 2011

23 June 2011

Realising the value of maturity

Dichotomy.  I looked up the word and found "the splitting of a whole into exactly two non-overlapping parts, jointly exhaustive and mutually exclusive". 

BS25999 has two parts; one concerning primarily the Doing of the Business Continuity PDCA cycle, the other more about the Planning, Checking and taking Action.  Not at all a dichotomy, I know – but then why do many BC managers treat the concept of the BC Management System (BCMS) in part 2 as if it were superfluous to the delivery of  BC programmes?

Most practitioners build effective plans and create the mechanisms to ensure they remain current (change management, reviews, exercises, etc).  However, some see this success as the end point and shy away from establishing the controls called for by BCMS.

I suggest it has to do with maturity.  Consider a BC programme maturity model defined as:

  • Low maturity - without effective plans (an organisation at risk);
  • Medium maturity - plans in place to bring about a successful recovery (an organisation considered a competent performer).   This can be achieved without being BS25999 certified or aligned (though without the benefit of  formal BCMS the level of assurance may be quite low).  This represents an alluring false ceiling.
  • High maturity – effective BCM is wrapped in a BCMS allowing the organisation to embed the understanding of the discipline in the organisational management, deliver greater assurance to customers / clients and improve the targeting of investment. (an organisation with competitive advantage and optimised investments).

Does a mature BC programme necessarily mean greater expenditure?  Absolutely not, and we need to dispel that myth!  The BCMS protects the investment we have made in BCM.  This allows our business leadership to understand risks and determine where best to place investment and to align recovery capabilities with the business risk appetite.  Maturing from medium to high can lead to savings.

The two parts of the BS25999 standard do not represent a dichotomy, but more a sign of growing maturity. They should be treated as complementary.  Close alignment with part 2 brings real benefits and certification provides independent assurance that clients recognise. 

20 June 2011

Mayhem at Le Mans

The 79th Le Mans 24 hours race took place the weekend before last, and the balance between speed and endurance created an iconic spectacle once again.

The glamorous Le Mans Prototypes (LMP1's and LMP2's), took centre stage, with the intense rivalry between Audi and Peugeot highlighted by their starting positions. Audi held 1st, 2nd, and 5th, Peugeot 3rd, 4th and 6th. The atmosphere intensified as the expected 249,500 spectators crammed into the stands, set up their camping seats near big screens, or climbing ladders to garner a better view from hills and mounds around the track. Camera's poised ready, as at 3pm in glorious French sunshine the race began, with an ear-splitting roaring rolling start.

But within less than an hour Allan McNish, a driver for Audi, was spinning off across the gravel pit, at 120mph, hitting the barrier, flipping airborne before shattering into what seemed like a 1,000 pieces and ending up on its roof.  As news spread around the track, safety cars and emergency services scrambled to the scene. The crowd held their breath, as replays showed the power and severity of the accident and watched as safety officials rolled the remains of the car over to gain access to the driver.

Miraculously, Allan McNish stepped out of the wreck virtually unharmed, and thanked his team for creating a car that can "have an impact that is enormous and the driver pops the door and gets out perfectly well."

The Audi R18 team, not only built the car for speed and endurance, but designed it with safety in mind. Planning and designing safety features that would minimise any injuries to the driver, "just in case something happens" has ensured the Le Mans race and its drivers can continue to race with faith and in relative safety.

Watching the race got me thinking about the similarities between business and Le Mans.  It seems a little simplistic to consider business and motor racing as analogous.  However, the race teams and businesses that can claim the greatest success often have the endurance and vision to carry on when times are tough and respond efficiently and effectively in the face of a crisis.

We could all learn from what I witnessed at Le Mans and other high reliability organisations where safety considerations force a level of pre-planning often not considered in other sectors.  When the consequences of failure are high prior planning, and a timely response will be key to survival.