Our Managing Partner Stijn was asked a simple question during an interview: “What keeps you up at night regarding business continuity?”. He wrote the following piece.

 

The alarm clock’s bright red lights read: 03:43.

After concluding a series of interviews on resilience in a large chemical company, my final talk with the EMEA General Manager plays back in my mind.

  1. “Which should be the number one improvement to your crisis preparedness?”
  2. “How do you expect us to become prepared if we have to spend countless hours creating scenarios, explaining our courses of action in contingency plans, getting these plans validated by emergency services and regulators, then endlessly amending these documents.”

03:51. I sympathize with this person’s situation.

30 people of this company have been interviewed. Our picture of their current resilience level is forming. Among the findings that keep returning: less regulations, more planning and preparing.

Operators, safety managers, legal representatives, security janitors, communication directors, … They all know or at least feel it: most of the efforts are going into preparing ourselves on paper. That’s simply insufficient.

03:57. A way of shifting the paradigm comes to mind. In a perfect world we assume rules and regulations will save us, taking us through chaotic and stressful times. In the real world, however, we can’t actually manage these crises. Chaotic events demand getting back on our feet and coping with them in the best way we can.

My company convinces people that they work in unstable environments which can render operations very unstable very quickly. Letting people reflect on their organization’s flexibility, we make them realize that they are far less dependent on plans than on each other. We train teams accordingly. The results: less burden, less stress, more confidence and more autonomy.

04:13. While dozing of again I wish more people would make the mental shift and make this paradigm their core principle. But how? Let me sleep on it.

Credits to Dr. Hugo Marynissen, Dr. Mike Lauder & Tim Van Achte.

 

 

Stijn Pieters is a crisis strategist who specializes in risk and crisis management for companies and governments. He is co-founder and managing partner of PM and co-founder of the CIP Institute.