Friday, 14 June 2013

Five things I learned from this year's Executive Forum...

Lyndon Bird FBCI
Leadership in Resilience was the theme of this year's well-attended Executive Forum and the whole programme was set up to ensure a lively debate around resilience and how BC professionals can take the initiative and lead on this hot issue.   These two-days in Brussels made real progress in clearing the fog and providing some specific examples of where BC professionals can make a difference.  For me the five key learning points were:

1. The growth of the term Resilience in job titles is much more widespread than I had expected. In some cases BC Manager has been changed to Head of Business Resilience without any change of responsibilities. This change is not universally popular among those with the new title because "business continuity" is a strong, meaningful "internal brand" whereas "business resilience" is non-specific and aspirational.

2. Most BC professionals felt there was little or no difference between supply chain continuity or service chain continuity. The only problem is when the criteria for buying an easily specified physical item is applied to buying complex services. The main failure is when procurement professionals do not fully understand the risk associated with any interruption to the service they are acquiring.

3. The new threats that put a business at risk are too complex for one single discipline to "own". For example cyber threats are as varied and as nuanced (both in likelihood and impact) as the physical threats we face - so they cannot just be an IT or Information Security issue. However, they cannot be just a BCM issue either. Risk, Security and BCM must work together, which perhaps is really how resilience needs to be defined in the future.

4. Horizon scanning is now definitely on the BC professionals' agenda. Not necessarily "futurology" yet  - but certainly the mid term assessment of trends and what might threaten business sustainability in the next decade or two.

5. There is a reluctance to consider functional integration as an effective means of breaking down silos. Integration fails to recognise the different purposes of different disciplines and although BCM might logically fit into an overarching risk framework, it has closer practical overlap with security than with conventional risk management or compliance. Collaborative working more than integration seems to be the preferred way forward.

If you missed this year's Executive Forum - I'd certainly recommend you buy a copy of the report when it's available and sign-up for next year's Forum.  It is a rather unique opportunity for senior experienced professionals to think strategically and look ahead.