Business Continuity Planning for a World Descending Into Chaos and Collapse

Business Continuity Planning in a Chaotic and Volatile World

Look around and follow news and it is clear that the world is descending into chaos and collapse as the events of the last few months have shown.

While the world’s most populous country, China, is battling the deadly Coronavirus with many cities in lockdown and the second most populous one, India, being hit with protests against the recent laws passed by the government, there is no dearth of events that can spiral out of control and lead to businesses being disrupted in their daily operations.

Even the West is not immune as the globalised and integrated world that we are living in means that anything happening anywhere can impact everything happening everywhere and anytime.

Given this background, a pertinent question to ask is how should businesses prepare for contingencies and plan their business continuity strategies accordingly.

Indeed, given the volatile and real time nature of the world that works 24/7, threats to business continuity arise at any time and hence, businesses need to be alert to the dangers and avert disruption to their operations.

While business continuity planners were always prepared for the worst, the present times are such that there is nothing that can be predicted and the impacts of the unknowns are so great that nobody knows exactly how the situation would transpire.

Trusted Sources of Information and Centralised Control Centre

To start with, business continuity planners would need to have sources of trusted information who can relay news about potential triggers of disruption in a reliable and assured manner.

In times when Fake News abounds and Misinformation and Disinformation are rampant, it is worth the effort to invest in subscriptions to Real Time Threat Monitoring firms that can provide their clients with near accurate and factual news about the emerging threats.

While Facebook and Twitter can be relied upon to pass on messages and to use the Safe Marked Feature that allows users to mark themselves as safe in emergencies, on the whole, it is better to go with agencies such as Stratfor which provide institutional services for alerting their clients to real time threats.

Moreover, there is also a case to be made for having a dedicated in house team with a Centralised Control Centre that can monitor the news and sift through the Breaking News to provide accurate assessment of the threats and the disruptions and then plan accordingly.

Employee Safety Comes First and Work from Home Arrangements to the Rescue

Having said that, there are some experts who believe that business continuity planning is useful to a certain extent and beyond that, any disruptions and dislocations go out of hand where individual responsibility is the key.

In other words, what this means is that when disaster strikes, businesses can only do so much to alert their employees to activate the BCP procedures.

Beyond that, it falls on the employees to exercise responsibility and ensure that the backup procedures are in place.

Moreover, the employees in question need to worry about their safety as well and hence, what this means is that the Unknowns kick in where there is a fog of confusion that takes time to clear.

It is for this very reason that many leading corporates are activating Work from Home Programs for their employees in case of emergencies by providing them with Laptops and Wireless Internet Connections so that everyone knows that they have to log in from home in case of disruptions.

Indeed, this is proving to be very effective as right now in China, Millions of People are working from Home in response to the lockdown of the cities and regions there.

Leaders Leading from the Front and Chain of Command to be Established

A key feature of any BCP strategy is the role played by the leading managers and senior executives in the organisation.

In cases of disruptions, often people tend to rally behind a leader who can show the way and hence, businesses too need to have such an individual, either from the senior executives or someone equally responsible who can lead from the front and provide directions to the employees.

In our working experience, we found that once the initial shock of the disruption wears off, corporates tend to activate their BCPs wherein each employee calls the designated POC or Point of Contact for their teams, who in turn contacts the next higher level in the hierarchy and so on until clarity emerges on what to do to keep the business running.

Much like a pool of water that ripples when disturbed and settles down after a while, disruptions can paralyse us and hence, there needs to be clear paths shown for employees in case of disturbances to connect with each other.

It is always better to keep the lines of communication open and it is also the case that senior execs and managers not go incognito during crises, and instead, must be approachable to those seeking help.

Keep Your Wits and Exercise Presence of Mind

Last, while the discussion so far has touched upon many aspects of BCPs in the present world, we caution that human nature is unpredictable and when the Unknown happens, this combination can lead to deadly outcomes.

Therefore, it is better for Corporate Planners to encourage their employees to use their wits and presence of mind to deal with disruptions and emergencies.

Bureaucracy can take a back seat and what matters in critical moments are how responsible you are towards the organisation and more importantly, towards yourself.

To conclude, BCP is not only about keeping the business open and running but, also about ensuring that employees are safe and sound.

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