G20: Expert Says Corporations Need a BCP to Deal with the Summit

I need to blow off some steam after a report I just saw.  It’s no secret that the G8 and G20 summits are going on right now in Toronto, Canada.  In fact, the G8, which was held a couple hours north of Toronto in Huntsville, is over.  If you’ve seen the headlines then you’ve seen the scenes depicting some violent scenes and destructive behaviours of some small groups of protesters; they call themselves the “Black Bloc.”  They’ve been at other summit’s and continually cause problems for cities, policies, citizens and anyone who happens to be in their path.  There are numerous stores fronts with smashed windows and overturned mailboxes and spray paint over anything that can be spray painted. 

During one of the news updates (from many local news agencies covering the story), one of the ‘experts’ they were speaking with stated that local businesses should have created a separate plan to deal with the situation.  Now, he said they should not have incorporated the situation into an existing plan but developed an entirely new one.  What?  Is he serious?

How would a small mom-and-pop shop develop a BCP for something like G20?  In some instances the shops (or other business likes banks) boarded up their windows but then again, they can afford some of these measures.  Some hired additional security to watch for signs of problems.  Small eateries or other small shops simply can’t do that so what was he thinking about? 

I mentioned in a previous blog (https://stoneroad.wordpress.com/2010/06/25/business-continuity-plans-in-action-g8-and-g20-2010-summits/) that some businesses closed for the summit and had people working from home and this is one of the many contingency plans that businesses put in place.  I don’t think this guy knew what he was saying.  He was suggesting that all businesses should have a plan.  I hope he meant just those in the affected city at least.  I can’t imagine a corporation in Inuvik, North West Territories having a plan, as I doubt there will ever be a G8 or G20 summit up that way.

Most corporations an d business located in downtown Toronto activated their contingency plans – it was all over the news.  Downtown was a complete deserted ghost town so where were the people.  Many stayed away and worked from home.  Did this guy not see that?  Did he not see the boarded up businesses and the interviews with actual business people that said their employers had implemented contingency measures?

This goes to show the level of awareness and understanding out in the world when it comes to contingency plans, business continuity, disaster recovery and emergency response (and other terms I could type in here but won’t).  So called experts being interviewed by reputable journalists don’t even know or understand what they’re talking about.  Just what are they an expert in?  Makes one wonder… 

Still, it’s obvious the BCM industry needs to get more awareness out there as to what the industry is really about.  The spokespeople talking to the news about what BCM is and isn’t, don’t have an understanding themselves.  Even when there are reports about contingency plans being implemented by corporation, they still don’t get it. 

I think many corporations in downtown did the right thing by activating plans and getting their affairs in order.  Many activated them a few days in advance of the summits.  When the planes began to land and the leaders began to arrive for the summits, corporations began to implement various contingencies.  In fact, the police and security for the summits began to get stronger at the beginning of the week and that was the beginning for corporations to start implementing various contingency measures.  

What corporations can’t know is the level of damage that the “Black Bloc” protestors will cause.  No one could know that.  Is that they type of thing this guy was talking about?  Maybe he was under the influence of the TV screen and only seeing what was being televised and not having an understanding that many of the corporations had indeed, done what he said. 

I know of some businesses that just moved operations to one of their other locations; right there is an example of a contingency.  However, what they can’t do it move the building so it can’t be spray painted.  Even buildings with boarded up windows were being hit with bricks, sticks and other items.  What’s left; pick the buildings, the corporations and the sidewalks up and move them?  Sound completely stupid doesn’t it.  Yet, that’s what type of thing this ‘expert’ was saying. 

I’m going to give this guy – this expert – some slack and chalk it up to someone know knowing what a BCP plan is.  Maybe he didn’t see the reports of corporations actually implementing their plans.  Maybe he was swept up in the depictions of violence and wasn’t quite thinking straight.  If so, we – the BCP/DR/ERM community need to step up and get out message out there a bit more.  Separate plans for summits aren’t needed, not when corporations were already able to deal with it.  Except for property damage, there are no reports of businesses having suffered other damage (at least at the time of writing this – it may change).

We don’t’ need separate plans for everything. We can take what we have and adapt them to the situation – or course, that’s assuming that the plans are any good in the first plans  We need to take this opportunity and learn from it and ensure that the BCM message is out there so people have an understanding of what BCM is and what it entails. 

There’s a sewing exposition in two weeks; maybe corporations should develop a contingency plan for that.  We don’t want things falling apart at the seams do we? 

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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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