Preparing for the Unexpected: July 27/17 Show Announcement!

fullick-Promo-VarietyHello everyone,

We’re happy to announce next week’s show with guest and BCM / DR specialist, Alvaro Orrantia.

Check out the promo here: https://www.voiceamerica.com/episode/100326/bcmdr-a-general-perspective

Check out Alvaro’s BIO here: https://www.voiceamerica.com/guest/35324/alvaro-orrantia

It’s sure to be another great show!

Regards,

The StoneRoad Team

Preparing for the Unexpected: Thursday, July 20/17 – BCM/DR Project Management

This weeks show is ready to go.

Does it ever seem as though your BCM/DR program isn’t quite operating as smoothly as you believe is should?  Tune in this week to hear our chat with S. Rosalind Baker, a Project and Program Management specialist.  Learn how to manage your BCM/DR program using strong project management practices and take your own BCM/DR role to next level.

Check out more about this weeks show at https://www.voiceamerica.com/guest/35261/sue-rosiland-baker-pmp

Enjoy!

The StoneRoad Team

 

New Book by Business Continuity Management (BCM) Expert A.Alex Fullick – “WATCH YOUR STEP”

A bit late but Happy New Year everyone!  May 2016 bring all you ask for and keep you safe!

We’re very happy to announce that the new book by our Founder A.Alex Fullick is now available for purchase in both physical and ebook version.

This book is a bit different from previous books yet still focused on Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery Planning.

When one is trying to start up a Business Continuity / Disaster Recovery program or is having difficulty managing an existing BC /DR program, a practitioner – experienced or new to the field – can and will encounter problems along the way.  This book helps proactively identify what problems to watch our for and identifies early triggers that will come back to cause problems further down the road.  Alex then goes on to provide tips on how to prevent the problems for occurring in the first place and what to do if the issues come to fruition.

“Watch Your Step” is a great volume for any practitioner.   Get your copy online at any Amazon website.

 

Enjoy!

Regards,

The Stone Road Team

 

© StoneRoad 2016

A.Alex Fullick has over 19 years’ experience working in Business Continuity and is the author of numerous books, including “Watch Your Step”, “BIA: Building the Foundation for a Strong Business Continuity Program.”and Testing Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity Plans.”

 

 

BCM Program Development & Buy-In: Managing ‘What If’ Questions.

                There are many roadblocks to building a BCM/DR/ERM program; some are financial restrictions or varying degrees of buy-in from Senior Executives.  However, there is another type of to roadblock that can cause headaches for BCM practitioners and professionals; the dreaded barrage of scenario focused ‘what if…” questions. 

                What is a ‘what if’ question and what does it look like?  Well, have you ever been in a meeting or presentation, providing an update/status on the BCM programs’ progress only to be interrupted halfway through – or earlier – with questions that begin with the phrase ‘what if’ that would probably be answered if you were allowed to finish your presentation?  I’m going to assume that you have and that it continues on a regular basis for many practitioners – more times that one would like. 

‘What if’ a tornado hits in June?

‘What if’ the CFO isn’t available? 

‘What if’ ABC vendor doesn’t deliver on time? 

‘What if’ the power goes out on the weekend? 

‘What if’ we have a major legal case causing a Public Relations (PR) disaster?

These are just some examples of the questions that can be asked; all are valid, as there isn’t one among them that isn’t plausible – and possibly has occurred at some time or another. 

                However, it’s impossible to answer all of the questions that can start with a ‘what if…?’ but there is a reason why it’s being asked; there is a reluctance to address and accept the fact that disasters occur by the person asking the question.  Studies have shown that ‘what if’ questions are designed to keep people off track and focus on other important things – those of the person asking the question – because there is a fear of the key issues and concerns that can be raised and/or uncovered by the BCM professional when building and developing the BCM/DR program.  To a degree that’s understandable; not everyone is comfortable holding conversations about disasters and the potential the events have to destroy facilities, corporations, reputations, revenue streams and in the worst of case situations – lives.  By sending people away to investigate the ‘what if’ questions, these topics don’t get fully broached and communicated – or understood. 

                ‘What if’ questions tend to get asked more frequently at the initial stages of a BCM/DR program creation with the intent – hopefully – of ensuring all aspects and risks that can harm the corporation are addressed and incorporated into the program (i.e. plans, processes, procedures).  Imagined scenarios can go on forever, as one of the definitions of a scenario is ‘an imagined sequence of events’ and at some point the ‘what if’ question simply becomes a roadblock to development, as it prevents progress.  What they end up doing in many cases is sending the BCM practitioner back to the drawing table to review their work to ensure a specific scenario is addressed when all that might be needed is a slight adjustment to existing plans, rather than the creation of new plans.  If plans are broad enough and comprehensive enough – and flexible enough – then a majority of scenarios and situations can be addressed within the plans framework.  If they are tailored to specific minute detailed situations, they won’t be useful in a majority of situations except for that one specific ‘what if’ situation; this can be a waste sue of resources.

                At the outset the ‘what if’ questions actually help identify the risks that many within the corporation believe can impact and harm operations.  After a good awareness and training components have been implemented, the ‘what if’ questions should be considered as challenges to enhance the program, plans and components.  It’s at this point that some of the more obscure ‘what if’ situations and scenarios can then be addressed because a program and plan foundation has been established (and hopefully validated). 

                Here are a couple of tips on how to address the dreaded ‘what if’ question:

  1. Don’t fear a ‘what if’ question; stay calm, it’s only a question,
  2. Don’t be antagonistic; the person might be asking the question for clarity purposes or to ensure a specific aspect has been taken into consideration,
  3. Anticipate a ‘what if’ question; someone is bound to ask one, 
  4. Try and address potential ‘what if’ questions in your updates/status’ etc, that way, you might be able to minimize the number of questions,
  5. Don’t get angry when one is asked, because if you anticipated it, there’s no reason to get angry,
  6. Don’t say “that’s a good question” because you might not say that to everyone and they are going to think they asked a dumb question,
  7. If you don’t have an appropriate answer, say so and move on.  You can always take it away and state you’ll get back to the person(s) with a response at a later time,
  8. If a question uncovers an area requiring more investigation, admit it and thank the person for the idea.  This will make them feel part of the building process and most importantly, they feel you’ve listening. 
  9. If it can’t be answered because its so ludicrous, then politely bring the one person asking the question back to centre; back to the foundation of the program and the plan and where you are.  If the likelihood is so remote, say so but at the same time state that it could be something we look at once we’ve reached a specific milestone; the question just can’t be considered at the current stage because you don’t have enough resources (i.e. plans, executed tests etc) in place to be able to address the question. 

‘What if’ questions are asked across the board; in everyday life in every industry and every walk of life.  They are a matter of fact though when asked, people often become defensive, as if they are questioning ability, skill or knowledge level.  In some instances that may be true and in others it’s to help make something stronger – like a BCM plan or program.  They help ensure that all potential risks – perceived and real – are addressed and incorporated into the appropriate contingency strategy, response and plan. 

                So don’t fear the ‘what if’ questions no matter how they are intended; in the end, it’ll get you thinking and planning to ensure the best possible results.

(c) Stone Road Inc.

Checkout books by StoneRoad founder, A.Alex Fullick, MBCI, CBCP, CBRA at www.amazon.com

 

Leadership in Business Continuity Management (BCM) & Disaster Planning (DR)

I read allot of books on management and leadership; it helps give insight on how to get buy in and work with top tier representatives when trying to develop a BCM/DR/ERM program of just trying to get one back on track.  It also helps me be a stronger leader in the industry and dealing with various clients and their expectations.  One of the things I’ve found over the years – and crops up on many books – is that Leadership and Management are two different things.  Often, corporations believe that if you’re a manager then you’re automatically a leader by default.  Well, that’s not quite true – it can be for some managers – but it’s not a guarantee.

Here’s the dictionary definition of the two:

  1. Leader – A person who guides and      inspires others.
  2. Manager – A person who directs, controls      and manipulates the resources of an organization, division or department.

As you can see, one can be the other but rarely are they found to be both; especially during a disaster or crisis.  A good manager – an inspiring manager – can step up to be a leader during a crisis and a leader during normal’ Business as Usual’ timeframes can sometimes fall flat and just be a manager; forgetting how to lead under pressure and stress.

A good or great leader during a disaster or crisis is not determined by their title, though many believe it is automatic.  Not true.  Leadership qualities can suddenly appear from the most timid of people; it all depends on how they respond to the situation.  Just because someone has the title of Vice-President, it doesn’t mean they are calm under pressure (i.e. disasters) of that they have the following and support of their employees – and direct reporting managers.

What makes a great leader during a crisis, even if they aren’t normally a leader, a manager or sometimes just being a regular employee?

It really depends upon how they respond, work and communicate under pressure.  If they remain calm and focus on the key/core items related to the situation at hand, they will instil confidence; have poise and optimism in themselves, their staff, the community, the media and the general public.  If they seem indecisive and calm under pressure to all that observe them, even if in private they might be a bundle of nerves.

These somehow can operate under stressful and strained circumstances and people pay attention to their direction; they follow the leader.  Managers that believe they are leaders without inspiring their employees and those around them, aren’t leaders, they are just managers of their resources.

In a disaster, a leader must be a quick thinker, able to distinguish the big picture and the overall objective from the detailed – sometimes personal – perspectives people have on a situation.  It’s all about how they respond and react and then project the right response out to others.

Another great aspect of a leader during a crisis is that they listen; they pay attention to the words of others.  Let’s face it, all great leaders – corporate and political – have people who offer advice and guidance on various subjects.  When a disaster occurs, the leader must still be able to listen and take advice from these individuals and at the same time, make sure that his or her advisors are focusing on the right subject matter to bring the situation to a healthy response and quick resolution.  They’ll remove the roadblocks for individuals as they work through their own responsibilities to enable them to perform the functions required from them.  This is something a great leader does during normal business operations as well, not just during a disaster.

A great crisis leader also passes along their lessons learned from previous crises and delivers it to others in a way that will help others grow and individuals and possibly become leaders themselves.

Yes, everyone is different and it is these differences that will separate the leaders from the managers from the followers.  The followers will change course if the leader isn’t strong and instils confidence but then again, a strong leader will change course when the existing strategy isn’t working; they aren’t afraid to keep moving and address the situation at hand as it develops and meanders its way to resolution.

These are the kind of people you want to have on your Crisis Management teams; those that make the ‘big’ decisions and provide direction to the organization.  You want the organization to follow them; so choose the best leaders for the job, whether they are a lower, middle or senior management representative or not.

 

 **NOW AVAILABLE**

 “Heads in the Sand: What Stops Corporations From Seeing Business Continuity as a Social Responsibility” and “Made Again Volume 1 – Practical Advice for Business Continuity Programs”

by StoneRoad founder, A.Alex Fullick, MBCI, CBCP, CBRA, ITILv3

Available at www.stone-road.com, www.amazon.com & www.volumesdirect.com

Disaster Communications: More Than a Phone Line Update

Continuity Magazine, published by the Business Continuity Institute (BCI) had an interesting article regarding “…Resilience in the Workplace.”  The author provided many valuable tips for corporations on how build resiliency within the work force (many ideas of which I’m quite familiar with from years of being in the industry), however there was a point in the article that caught my attention and it provided the spark for this article.

The thought was to bring together team members that aren’t part of the disaster team structure (i.e. those performing restoration and recovery efforts or those leading these teams) and were individuals that were sent home to wait for instructions.  Often, we know we are to communicate the status’ of situation to employees, stakeholders, Crisis Management Team/DR Team members, partners, suppliers, customers and clients and the thing all of these have in common is that a team is made up of people; people, not a product, service or some sort of commodity.  Therefore, we need to treat people as exactly that; people.

During a disaster, only a pre-selected (and hopefully trained) individuals are required to help restore, recovery and validate systems.  Only a select few are given tasks that relate to the disaster/crisis response; the rest may be sent home for further instruction.  This is where some additional issues can slowly creep into the fray.

It is one thing to send people home and ask them to check a phone line for updates; it’s another to actually communicate status’ and expectations with them.  For many employees, the expectation is to go home – when requested to leave for home – and monitor a phone line, website or email, for communications from the corporation (assuming of course the corporation has a communication strategy) but this only last for so long.

The website, email and/or phone messages must be consistent and provide enough information so that employees accessing the line understand what is actually occurring and how things are progressing.  Understandably, details may not be provided but a high-level overview of where things are can help people feel a part of the restoration and recovery efforts when they actually aren’t apart of those teams at all.

In addition, if after a couple of days the only communication is through the email, website or phone line, employees can begin to feel alienated and forgotten.  Not forgotten in the sense that they aren’t going to be needed as some point but forgotten because all they are getting is a phone message, which they probably have to dial into at certain specific designated time to get an update that doesn’t address any of their concerns or questions.

Many of today’s larger corporation have external parties that offer employee assistance (Employee Assistance Programs – EAP) but even here, they can only offer support and provide so much information.  If the EAP is the sole source of information, the employee once again can feel alienated and left to fend for themselves.  Corporations give the perception that they are shuffling off their staff to EAP and then turn around and focus on the restoration and recovery efforts.  That isn’t to say that corporation can’t use EAP’s to help but they can’t just shuffle the responsibility off to an EAP and expect employees to feel like they are being communicated with by the corporation.

It idea the author of the Continuity Magazine provided an interesting idea; create touch points/sessions that can bring together some of the employees sent home, so they can meet each other and bring forward their concerns and issues.  Sure, executives and DR teams are focusing on getting things back up and running but there is still a segment of employees that need to have some focus as well.

An idea could be to have one of the EAP representatives and/or a representative from the corporations Human Resources office organize an information session for those that have been sent home.  Ask them to attend a meeting at a hotel where they can come together and discuss the disaster and be reunited with their colleagues (of all levels).  If they can’t attend in person, provide a conference bridge or web access so they can follow along.  This will at least let employees know they are being looked thought of during a disaster (and being provided a platform to communicate concerns and receive information).   BTW, some of this might even be performed using notification software/applications but beware; it will take some time set up ahead of time and many individuals might not want to provide you with their contact information.  Still, this will at least give you a tool that’s easier to use (hopefully) to reach more people.

Corporations want a sense of community; a sense where everyone wants the corporation and all its employees to be successful.  But when a disaster occurs the focus goes to a select few and the rest can feel like they’ve been pushed aside only to be brought back when the corporation says they are needed again.  It can cause resentment amongst staff because they can’t share their stories and experiences with colleagues and aren’t being communicated with by the corporation; just a voicemail providing little information and continually asking to call back.  That isn’t communication.

 **NOW AVAILABLE**

 “Heads in the Sand: What Stops Corporations From Seeing Business Continuity as a Social Responsibility” and “Made Again Volume 1 – Practical Advice for Business Continuity Programs”

by StoneRoad founder, A.Alex Fullick, MBCI, CBCP, CBRA, ITILv3

Available at www.stone-road.com, www.amazon.com & www.volumesdirect.com

StoneRoad on the Net…We’re Everywhere!!

Well, it seems lots of hard work pays off and you can find StoneRoad everywhere.  Check this link out and see what the latest entry is.  Thanks to Rob G for this.

http://apocalypsewave.blogspot.com/2012/01/next-to-last-post.html

Regards,

Alex (and the StoneRoad gang)