Great day (and evening) at the Australasian BC Summit yesterday. In keeping with the quality and variety that has become the mark of this event there was a good range of speakers and topics on offer.
The keynote presentation from the ABC’s Ian Mannix was a great start to the day. Ian shared insights into how people react in a crisis situation and offered some useful guidance on the type of messages that we need to learnt to craft to improve communication in these situations. We need to think about application of these ideas to plans (if we really think somebody will use them when under pressure) as well as staff and customer/stakeholder communications.
The presentation was supported by some great video from a scenario exercise conducted by the Catalyst program, which highlighted how good our BC/CM exercises could be if we were allocated the budget to acquire the production capabilities of the ABC. The link above has some excellent resource and acces to the full version of the program, should really be mandatory viewing for all in this business.
Following this rather hard act was Saul Midler who spoke about “right sizing” our BC capability. Interesting title as the term “right sizing” is often used in managerial-speak to mask efforts that involve redundancies and down-sizing. The presentation spoke about getting the investment level right, and presented some useful statistices that people could use to support their own cases.
For me the most intersting part of this presentation came from audience interactions. First when harldy anybody raised a hand to show they had been impacted by a major disaster in the Phillipines – remarkable given the extent that our largest telecommunications company has outsourced its Call Centre operations to the Phillipines. The BC person from that company certainly raised his hand, but perhaps another example that we have not fully embraced supply chain continuity and how essential it is to have visibility of our suppliers suppliers.
The second came when Saul highlighted examples of cases of over-investment in protective and recovery capabilities. In general these were cases where the ICT function had over engineered their recovery or availability options, clearly in excess of the metrics derived from a BIA exercise. My surprise was not that this happens, but from the questions this generated from the audience. I would have thought the first questions would be “How do we learn from what they did so we can make a better case and get funding?” Sadly, that question never arose. Neither did the one about the validity of the whole idea of BIA, at least until later in the day.
Peter Brouggy’s session on Business Disruption Risk Management at Westpac presented a challenge to the thinking of both legacy Risk Management and legacy BCM. An interesting model with a heavy reliance on metrics, but it yields language and measures that will resonate with business Executives. The comment that some of the biggest obstacles he had to overcome were getting his onw head around the model – and seeing the value in it himself. A challenge we all face, it is hard to sell new ideas unless we actually understand them and have some belief and passion in the cause. Also some interesting conversations over lunch about how or thinking and percpetions change as we adapt to new roles, ideas and challenges in our professional lives.
These changes and challenges we all face can often be helped if we have a community we can talk to and draw assistance form. Glen Redstall’s session described how such a group had emerged in Wellington. The New Zealand “Government Sector Business ContinuityGroup” has grown from a small group meeting for coffee to a support network that not only enables people to learn and develop within the discipline, but is shaping how other parts of government perceive and work with the BC function. Great to see as they exemplify coaching and collaboration – some of the different fundamentals I tried to encourage in my session.
Another conference and another opportunity to showcase that BC folks have learned about Social Media – alas they have not. Still little to no activity on the Twitter stream. The upside to that – it wasnt hard to arrange the meet up for those tweeting from the sessions (both of them). I am sure Susan Henry will continue the twitter conversation on Day 2, sorry I was unable to stay.
This conference has been built and developed over 8 years, and is a tribute to the efforts of Tim Janes (BCI), Linda Nguyen (Continuity Forum) and their team. It was also the last go around for Tim as he will be passing the baton of the conference to somebody new for next year. He is leaveing the event in good shape, and it is a very positive legacy.
Thanks Tim for your efforts, none more difficult than keeping my sessions on time!