Thursday, 21 March 2013

A Winning Combination with great odds

Your BC Eye
Donna Monkhouse
Once again your BC Eye tuned into yet another excellent webinar – just one of the many free webinars that are being run as part of this year’s BCAW activities to raise awareness around the value of Business Continuity.
This one discussed the rise (and not fall) of contingency planning (widely used and known in the financial sector as the way to deal with threats) and its continued rise to become an integral part of good Business Continuity practice.   
Based on the recently released BCI Research Report: The Winning Combination – the 3 Cs of Business Continuity: Contingency Planning, Continuity Capability and Crisis Response and hosted by our very own Lee Glendon, who heads up our Research and Advocacy activities, this webinar showed us that by bringing the 3 Cs together we can accomplish good Business Continuity practice and ultimately achieve the one true goal, which is organizational resilience. 
Lee Glendon CBCI
Lee talked about the specific role of the BC professional in Contingency Planning, which he neatly defined as the individual who makes an action plan actionable and the challenges a BC Manager faces as a non-financial professional of being deemed capable of assuming responsibility for supporting the development of a Contingency Plan. 
The key thing this presentation drove home to me was that fact that Contingency Planning, Continuity Capability and Crisis response should not be dealt with in isolation but that they all support each other.   Continuity Planning is all about the pre-plan response for things that can be reasonably planned for; Contingency Planning is all about dealing with specific threats or scenarios; and Crisis Response is required when an event goes beyond reasonable planning and poses a high degree of threat to the existence of an organization.   Together they form, as Lee stated, “a three-line defence” mechanism, which works!
Putting this concept into a context that we can all relate to, Lee took us through a case study that demonstrated the successful application of the 3Cs, namely, Cheltenham Races, which are organised by the British Horseracing Authority. 
He explained that the Continuity Capability was in this instance about ‘keeping the show on the road’, which meant making sure the event could happen, like for example identifying an alternative location for the same date (not easy to change a race date).  This included the recognition of the fact that things can go wrong and that there will inevitably be disruptions, after all, it is the winter race programme in the UK that we are talking about here!   Then he talked about the Contingency Planning element, which in this case was essentially having plans at local level (i.e. for the racecourse itself) in the event that it snowed, or there was a hard frost or security issues.  And finally he talked about the Crisis Response, for the bigger things like injuries to the horses, cruelty to animal campaigns that might damage the good reputation of the British Horseracing Authority as well as our beloved (and I can say that as a Brit) Cheltenham Races or cause a major disruption to the event. 
The success of this wonderful example of the practical application of the 3 Cs was evidenced through an enhanced reputation and wide public recognition according to the British Horseracing Association.   There were lots of contributory factors including good communications; making sure the needs of all the race stakeholders were met; bending the rules a bit where necessary (or as Lee referred to it, flexible policy); not having a fixed plan but having the capability to deal with threats and incidents; as well as the continuity of staff.
The next phase of this truly insightful webinar was about the application of the 3 Cs to threats and risks or rather the question of how this could be done.   This is where the black swans of this year’s BCAW 2013 theme appeared on the horizon.  (Remember the main banner on the BCAW website?)  Lee defined the characteristics of these infamous black swans as:  unexpected; more consequential than your white swan (the ones you do see coming); relative in terms of knowledge (i.e. the more knowledge, the less black the swan (!); and ones where we have a clear understanding of what the consequences could be even if we don’t know what that event will be exactly or how likely it is.
Here, Lee brought into play the famous Known, Knowns” concept of Donald Rumsfeld (2002) and linked them to the 3 Cs as follows:
Known Knowns i.e. things we know we know, which can be dealt with using Contingency Planning;
Known Unknowns i.e. the things we know we don’t know, which require us to build Continuity Capability;
Unknown Knowns i.e. the things we know about but don’t know when they will happen, which if they do, will require a Crisis Response;
Unknown Unknowns i.e. the things we don’t know about nor do we know when they will happen, which also fall under the remit of a Crisis Response.
In conclusion, Lee brought us back to the opening topic of the webinar, namely, Contingency Planning, which he concluded, is known, particularly in the Financial Sector to work across strategic, financial and operational risks.  What this webinar proved was that the 3 Cs would work just as well and actually when we talk about Contingency Planning, in essence, we are talking about the application of the 3 Cs; all we are doing essentially is using different elements of the same structure.  Which elements we ultimately use, will simply depend on the level of our knowledge. 
So Contingency Planning really is on the rise; on the rise to become an integral part of Business Continuity and the application of the 3 Cs will help us to build resilience.

1 comment:

  1. Donna, good work with the coverage of BCAW, shame nobody is commenting.

    I have only just listened to Lee's webinar, and I encourage others to click through and listen. Plenty there to think and reflect upon.

    It is interesting to note that Rumsfeld, in that famous media statement, only addressed three segments of the 2x2 model. He did not actually reference the UNKNOWN KNOWNS segment.

    Some might argue that was because the whole "Weapons of Mass Destruction" debate or even the Abu Ghraib crisis were actually things they refused to acknowledge or admit what they really knew.

    I think that is the debatable segement. To me that is the realm of Wilful Blindness as I discuss in my webinar about Vision therapy. An issue to be addressed by increased courage rather than knowledge.

    If we are to understand and work with complexity and uncertainty, then I think we also need to be able to differentiate between the Unknown and Unknowable, they are not the same thing. It goes to the issue of causality.

    Keep up the good work folks. If we want these educational opportunities to work, it is up to us (the audience) to comment and debate the issues presented.