Is your business part of the 48% that lack a BC plan and still regards itself as ready for trouble? If so, it might be time to start a BCM program.
A recent study found that 48 percent of small businesses are operating without any type of business continuity plan, yet 95 percent of the businesses indicated they felt they were prepared for any disasters that might strike.
Perhaps you think your insurance will cover you if something goes wrong, or that your evacuation plan will help you out. Or maybe you have an old dust-ridden binder lying around that is labeled “Business Continuity Binder,” but which you haven’t looked at in ages. If either of these things is true of your company, chances are that you are not truly prepared for disaster. From Hurricane Maria and the shooting in Las Vegas to the current fires in California, history shows us that companies that do not proactively consider how to respond to events are among the last to get back to business.
So, why do people and companies neglect to implement business continuity management (BCM) in their organizations even though they know it’s the right thing to do and can ensure the survival of their business? That’s a difficult question to answer, I think because it has very little to do with business continuity management and a lot to do with human nature.
People and companies are inherently motivated to do what’s good for them. The problem is that accurately perceiving “what’s good for them” is not nearly as easy as it sounds—and even if a company can figure this out, they may not believe that it is possible for them to do it.
Deciding to Start a BCM Program
Imagine that your company begins to realize that the lack of a BCM program is a real issue. In my experience, I have found that when companies start thinking about implementing a BCM program, they almost immediately start thinking about what implementing such a program would cost them, tangibly and intangibly. Sure, they might think, creating a BCM program will improve their resiliency, minimize potential impacts of an outage, and make their environments safer. But it will also require the company and employees to make a culture shift and to give up time, effort, and money to create, implement, and test recovery plans which are unlikely to provide a visible return on investment over the short term. This can lead to a great sense of discomfort.
When it comes to making important decisions, just about every option that a person or company is faced with has costs (real and perceived) as well as benefits. To power through this ambivalence and take positive action, people and companies have to believe that the benefits of pursuing a path dramatically outweigh the costs—that the advantages of one option are clearly superior to the advantages of others. But what do we mean by “dramatically outweighs”? How superior is “clearly superior”?
Imagine that I told you there existed a special pill that, if taken once a day, would cause you to live to be 100 and never be sick a day in your life. Would you take it? Of course—the benefits of the pill far outweigh the minor inconvenience. But now imagine I told you that to receive the pill you would have to agree never to see any of the people you love again. Would you accept this bargain?
So goes it with convincing company management to spend significant time, money, and resources every year on an effort that may never be used in their lifetime—even if that effort could, if it ever were needed, ensure the survival of their company and the livelihood of their employees.
People and companies are motivated to do what’s good for them. When they see a clear direction forward—one that is consistent with their values and that they believe they can accomplish—they’re very likely to move ahead. What most people need to get unstuck is help deciding what’s right for them and believing in their ability to get there.
Starting a Reliable BCM Program
So, how do you change the mindset of your people and organization to foster the development of a BCM Program? We suggest you propose a program that:
- Is consistent with the mission and values of the organization
- Is aligned with the potential threats and risks the organization must face
- Follows a comprehensive roadmap to implement the program over time for what is most valued
- Takes baby steps for success over time in order to minimize the discomfort and pain of change
- Consistently fosters and celebrates the program’s successes
Components of a Comprehensive Business Continuity Program
When you start a BCM program, it’s much like starting a fitness program in the new year; we all have grand hopes for our fitness and physique, but we must endure the discomfort and pain to get there. The best path to success is taking the first step, then another and another over time.
Remember, everyone is motivated to do what is good for them. When it comes to encouraging people to start a BCM program, we just have to help them understand that having one truly is good for their organization, give them a path to get there, and help them build upon their small successes to reach their goal.