BCM & The White Stallion Manager

Training and awareness, in my opinion, is a big factor in developing and maintaining a successful Business Continuity Management (BMC) program.  The more people know what’s going on your organization and how to respond to incidents (or worse) the better the chances are that the company can recover and respond; from small incidents to large scale situations.  You have to include everyone in the awareness and training – not just managers.  None of us really know what we’d be like in a demanding situation.  Will we freeze up?  Will we take charge?  Will we keep a level head and follow direction? Who really knows.


Organizations don’t’ take into account people get scared and revert to basic needs of security and stability (Maslov anybody?).  The human aspect gets forgotten about quite a bit.  We worry so much about the Technology components and making sure we have detailed documentation outlining step-by-step activities (which is great if you have them).  But what gets forgotten is that all of that technology and activity binders are used by people…yes, people.  And that’s an aspect that seems to be forgotten when planning occurs and gives rise to the White Stallion Manager.  It’s one thing to have employee plans for benefits and a continued payroll process but if that isn’t incorporated into continuity and response plans then it’s like that people get left out.  There’s always a few who just don’t bother paying attention to anything that you’re doing and don’t want to be part of the BCM initiative.


How does this tie into the Training and Awareness? Well, training and awareness can be summed up in another word too: communication.  So without any awareness and training how can anyone communicate and know what to do?  That’s when the White Stallion Manager comes charging into the fray.  You know the kind – you’ve probably worked with a few.  The manager that pays no attention to anything remotely BCM related and doesn’t feel it means anything and isn’t important. They don’t provide information you need nor do they even respond to you most of the time and when they do, they brush you off as irrelevant but for some reason have complete knowledge on how to manage an incident and what to do.  Sound familiar?


This situation usually ends up with them causing more problems for everyone involved who are trying to resolve the issue and keep operations going – or trying to recover and restore systems.   They don’t get the right people involved or communicate the right messages causing all sorts of confusion and problems.  Those that are trained or have the knowledge end up being pushed aside by the big white horse the manager sees him/herself on.  This goes for all managers – department designations don’t mean anything; the White Stallion doesn’t discriminate. 


It’s these people that cause many problems for organizations when an emergency situation or disaster occurs.  It’s why there needs to be a continued push to increase awareness and training for everyone; every level of the organization.  If a manager isn’t contributing, or refuses to contribute, take this into account when you do your next exercise.  Wouldn’t it be great to sit at a table-top exercise and say that since nothing is documented or established for a particular area it won’t (and can’t) be recovered/restored.  There’s no BIA or contingency plan in place to back up what that manager is probably saying – or rather arguing at the table, so how could anyone ever know what they need? These managers need to understand that it’s imperative to be involved with the BCM program from the beginning.  The more they know and contribute the more their own department employees will contribute and understand.  If they do nothing and aren’t involved, then when a real situation occurs no one in the department will know what to do and no one in any other department will be able to help them either.  Then the panic sets in and the manager decides to become the White Stallion Manager, taking over situation because they really don’t know what to do.  So as a manager if they take charge all of a sudden it gives them the feeling they know how to handle things and are in control, when the chances are they aren’t in control at all.


Don’t let your organization end up with a White Stallion Manager, the horse may look majestic and beautiful but in the end it’ll mess all over your well intended recovery and communication processes.  And that’s not god for any organization or its BCM program.


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