You’ve done everything right:
- You have a plan
- Your plan is tested and verified
- You’ve trained your team members
- Your plan is maintained
Disaster strikes! Now what? You know you’re prepared, but still there is some nervousness and uncertainty. You can relax knowing that your business continuity plan is working for you, but it is still essential to keep in mind the following life lessons.
Do Not Panic
Panic is the one thing that can cause your well prepared plan to fail. The difference between a disaster that results in failure and one that results in continuity success is often how well teams control panic. Well trained teams can recover from even the most serious incidents provided they remain calm and in control.
There is no one cause of panic. It usually comes from small problems that grow. So long as everything rolls along smoothly, people are pretty good at adjusting. But as soon as things begin to unravel, there is a strong likelihood that it will only take a small change to cause chaos and panic. With this comes the abandonment of rational thought. This is when we see companies forgetting about their business continuity plans and operating in a completely reactive situation.
This does not work. Remember the number one rule: do not panic. Trust in your business continuity plan and the preparations you made to ensure it would work in such a situation.
Watch Out For Murphy
Murphy’s Law states that anything that can go wrong will go wrong. Poor planning, inadequate training, and poorly maintained safety and response gear are invitations for Murphy to appear.
What can you do to prevent Murphy’s Law from ringing true? Ensure your team is up to date with the latest business continuity plan, remember to maintain this plan, and be sure to have your necessary hardware working and fully operational.
By doing these little things, you can keep Murphy away, and breathe easy. Remember, a successful business continuity plan only works if you do your part in the maintenance of the plan, your team, and your essential equipment.
Practice Makes Perfect
We’ve all heard the mantra that practice makes perfect. Well it couldn’t be more true than in a disaster scenario. The more you practice your plan, making sure team members know how to respond, the more likely things will operate smoothly.
Think about the things that could happen and practice ways to counteract or to respond to them. What would you do if you got separated from others in your unit during an evacuation? What would you do if the building were completely dark during the exit? Does your response change if the emergency responders are delayed in arriving and you are informed that there are still people unaccounted for and maybe still in the building? (Remember to build these scenarios into your business continuity plan….)
Practicing these will quickly turn the situation from disaster to recovery.
Fix the Little Things
Pay attention to detail. Even the smallest mistake or misstep can quickly add up to bigger problems. All of a sudden your carefully thought out business continuity plan is not working because you let some small mistakes slip in.
If this does happen, act quickly, identify the problem, respond to the problem, and get back on track with your business continuity plan.
Remember the safety briefings we receive before each airplane flight? Yes, they seem kind of boring and repetitive, but these seemingly tedious briefings can be the difference between successfully surviving an accident or not.
Same goes for the training and briefings you provide to your team. It is critical that team members are listening and paying attention. We know this is easier said than done, but if done in a cohesive team environment where you can get everyone involved, you might find that your team recognizes why it is so important to be prepared for any disaster or threat – no matter how big or small it seems.
As part of your plan development, get the safety and emergency gear needed for your response teams. This includes items such as fire extinguishers, first aid kits, AED defibrillators, protective clothing, gloves, fluorescent bibs, flashlights, water, whistles, stretchers, stair chairs, communication devices (two-way radios, cell phones, etc.), bull horns, etc.
Be Responsible For Your Safety
Remember that ultimately we are all responsible for own safety. Train your staff to recognize this. Teach them that no one else can think for them or plan for them and nobody else can save them when they fail to be prepared. Show them how to take responsibility for their own actions and be prepared to deal with problems that may occur.
Remember the Lessons
So there you have it, some basic life lessons that really do apply to business continuity planning. Only makes sense – doesn’t it? The lessons that apply to our day to day life are the ones that ensure a successful response to a disaster.
Remember these lessons and smoothly and effortlessly turn disaster into recovery.
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