Cry Wolf! Is 2012 the Next Y2K for BCM?

I just saw the movie 2012 the other day; a depiction of what will happen on December 21, 2010.  OK, Hollywood tends to be over dramatic in their attempt to describe what will happen on that date.  It’s kind of bleak if you ask me.  It seems the end of the world is coming and there’s no way to stop it.  Hhmm, didn’t we have some of those same thoughts as we approached Y2K?  I seem to recall many people prophesising the end of the world when we hit January 1, 2000.  Remember how planes would fall out of the sky, no one would be able to get money from bank machines and all technology would shut itself down.  I couldn’t’ help think about this when the movie was over.  For the record, I was a person that was working on building Y2K response plans.  All that work for naught.  Well, maybe because we all did so well at our planning efforts Y2K became a non-event.  Or would it have been a non-event – for the most part – if we hadn’t done any preplanning.  I guess that something we’ll never be 100% sure of.  Still, the 2012 topic got me thinking. 

For those that may not know what 2012 is, it’s the end of the Mayan calendar (to put it in a nut shell).  On December 21, 2012, we enter the last day of their calendar, which was established hundreds of years ago and has proven – by modern scientists, mathematicians and anthropologists – to be incredibly accurate.  On December 22, 2012, we start the beginning of the new cycle, which by the way, lasts 64,000 years!!  How was a civilization in the 1500’s and 1600’s able to determine lunar calendars that lasted so long without any modern machinery and have most of it (if not all) proven to be incredibly accurate?  Well, that can be for someone else to determine. 

Since so many mathematical and astronomical calculations by the Mayan’s has been so accurate, many are wondering how accurate is their determination for the end of the world?  Well, they didn’t actually predict the end of the world – that’s been the interpretation of modern alarmists and paranoid peoples.  Still, since we went through this with Y2K, should we be planning for 2012 with the same intensity or are we ignoring it because Y2K came to nothing? 

Technology issues we know about and we can work at fixing, we’ve got lots of experience with these sort of things because they occur on a daily basis.  How do we plan for 2012 with all the potential doom and gloom? Maybe we should give up and go home and watch reruns of Canada winning the Gold Medal (again) in Olympic hockey. 

With recent events in the world – floods in Portugal, earthquakes in Chile, earthquakes in Haiti , Pakistan, Chile and Turkey, tsunami’s, floods, hurricane’s and strong storms all over the world – it makes a person wonder if the Mayan’s were actually on to something.  It does seem as though the amount of disaster is increasing or maybe its just because we’re more in tune with world events than we were a few years ago. 

Many of these natural events have impact on us and our corporations depending where we are when they occur.  As they number and frequency of events tends to increase, do corporations have plans in place to address more and more natural disasters?  We may focus on terrorism and technology but is there anything we can do for natural disaster? Depending on where you are in the world, this may be part of your plans but let’s say your not.  Let’s say your in North Ontario, Canada; do you need something for an earthquake considering there is not fault line running underneath the area?  If I’m in the desert do I need a flood plan?  

The answer could be yes to both because as we’re seeing, things are becoming unpredictable.  North Ontario might still have an earthquake and when it rains in the desert, floods are common because the ground cannot absorb the downpour quickly.  The Mayan’s did state that the world would go through changes leading up to the 2012 timeframe and we are certainly seeing an increase in natural activity.  Many countries that offer aid can’t keep up due to the demand.  Canada’s DART (Disaster Assistance Response Team) can’t be everywhere to offer aid, though after meeting some people on this team, they certainly would if they could. 

With the news headlines full of reports of earthquakes – and so many other natural disaster, as well as the man-made ones – it seems corporations should be paying close attention to what is going on in the world right now.  The more situations that occur, the closer they are coming to each organization.  Meaning, with frequency comes a higher degree of probability. 

Did the Mayans have it right?  We didn’t see this kind of things leading up to Y2K but we certainly are seeing warning signs leading up to 2012.  Should we be paying attention or are we thinking its some ‘crack-pot’ theory made up by an ancient civilization?  The ‘prophesy’ – as some call it – dates back before the Spanish conquistadors arrived. They’ve been correct about lots of things so far, so is this the one things they don’t have right?  On the other hand, like the results of Y2K, we’re thinking that this is all hype?  Maybe it is, maybe it is not.  However, like we all know, it only takes one disaster/crisis to prove how good – or bad – your BCM program really is. 

As each day passes, it seems more and more is occurring when it comes to natural disasters.  Some are caused by El Nino and other naturally occurring patterns but no one can deny that the frequency and impacts seem to be on the rise (Haiti, Chile and Turkey were all within weeks of each other). 

Should we be concerned and plan appropriately or are we allowing fear mongers to Cry Wolf?  Is the scale of thinking and planning so great that we can’t come up with the right response plans?  Do you remember those that ask ‘what do we do if a meteor hits the earth?’  Well, I guess they are getting their chance to find answers now, because so many ‘doomsayers’ are saying that 2012 is paramount to the end of the world. 

Should we just let them cry wolf?  If we do, remember what happened when the cry was ignored…and know what might happen to our operations in the mean time.

Time will tell. 

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The new book by StoneRoad founder, A.Alex Fullick, MBCI, CBCP, CBRA, ITILv3, “Heads in the Sand: What Stops Corporations From Seeing Business Continuity as a Social Responsibility.”  Available at www.stone-road.com **

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4 thoughts on “Cry Wolf! Is 2012 the Next Y2K for BCM?

  1. Seriously, I will not make any particular business continuity or crisis management plans for 2012. Whatever happens, happens. That said, I will make business continuity plans for many sorts of eventualities in case they should occur, but “2012” as a separate event is NOT high on MY list.

    And yes, the news ARE full of headlines of disasters, but I don’t think there are more disasters happening, it’s just more of the them that are reported on the news, since bad news always sells, happy news never sells.

    “Y2K” never happened, nor will “2012”…in my opinion.

  2. Pingback: Book Review: Heads in the sand • Supply Chain Risk Research and Literature Review

  3. Pingback: 2012 & Natural Disasters: Changing or Improving the Face of BCM? « Stoneroad’s Blog

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