The Brush-Off: When Management Doesn’t Care About BCM

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Nothing hurts a company’s business continuity management program like executives who are indifferent to its mission. Unfortunately, this situation is all too common, but there are things BCM staff can do to counteract it.

You would think I would be used to it by now, I’ve seen it so many times—but it amazes me every time.

What am I talking about?

I’m talking about situations where senior executives give their BCM programs and staff the brush-off.

I see it all the time.

The BCM office have been working their tails off. They’re ready to present results about gaps they’ve identified or recovery plans they want to implement.

And management is nowhere to be found.

They don’t have time on their schedules to meet with the BCM folks. If they do schedule a meeting, they don’t show up. If they do show up, they don’t pay attention. And if they pay attention, it’s usually to say no to whatever the BCM team is proposing; or maybe—maybe—they’ll agree under pressure to do the absolute minimum. 

Here’s a typical move by this type of manager: agreeing to conduct a business impact analysis or threat and risk assessment—then throwing the results in a drawer and not acting on them. They figure, that’s it, they’ve done their bit for business continuity and now they can get back to the fun stuff.

But the gaps and threats their staff has identified are still out there, lying in wait like a steel-jaw trap.

There Are Plenty of Superb Executives

To be sure, there are plenty of superb execs out there: mature, foresighted people who recognize the importance of resiliency and throw their support behind their BCM office’s efforts to build a culture of continuity.

Not surprisingly these forward-thinking men and women can often be found leading some the most respected and successful organizations around.

But there are a lot of the other kind of executive as well.

And you know something? As a CEO myself, I totally understand where these guys and gals are coming from.

When I’m wearing my CEO hat, I sympathize with them.

A Single-Minded Focus on Revenue

Senior executives are focused on production and revenue. As far as they’re concerned, BCM is overhead. It’s boring, it’s playing defense, it’s one of the least sexy things there is in business.

Of course, as you know and I know, BCM is vital to making sure that all that glamorous stuff top management really cares about–making and providing products and services, attracting customers, and making money–does not get harmed by a serious negative event that no one has bothered to anticipate or prepare for.

You and I also know that a good BCM program also brings day-in and day-out value to a company by making it more resilient and efficient at performing everyday tasks and handling routine problems.

How Staff Should Respond to Executives Who are Indifferent to BCM

Given this situation, what should the conscientious BCM professional do?

The first thing I can tell you is, help is on the way.

I should specify what I mean by help.

Thanks to the COVID pandemic and other developments, more and more companies are requiring that the suppliers they depend on have robust business continuity programs—and be able to prove it.

When a major customer tells the senior execs that unless they beef up their BCM program, the customer will be taking their business elsewhere, it can do more to spark an interest in BCM than any hundred gloomy presentations by the in-house BCM staff.

Otherwise, we as BCM professionals need to raise our game as educators, advocates, and persuaders. We also need to develop a thick skin.

When management gives us the brush-off, we need to respond with the bounce-back.

Get off the mat, learn your brief, and get back to making the case.

You know why BCM is important. You know about the increasing level of threats in the environment.

These days it’s everything from wildfires to active shooters, cyberattacks to hurricanes, power outages to reputational scandals, and pandemics to civil unrest.

You know about the importance of building a framework of resilience, reducing risk, and providing protection against problems large and small.

The challenge is getting management to recognize and appreciate these imperatives.

Learning to Speak Management’s Language

Learn to speak management’s language. How does BCM increase or protect productivity, profit, and revenue? That’s the kind of stuff executives like to hear.

Whether we like it or not, we have to exert ourselves to help management grasp why BC is important. Everything we want to do depends on them supporting us.

We have to help them understand that business continuity is more than overhead. It’s a tool to protect the crown jewels of the organization.

Here’s a comparison: Look at it from the point of view of a parent. What’s more important, the child or the clothes the child is wearing as protection against the elements? Obviously, it’s the child—but a parent who loves the child is going to make sure that child is well-dressed because they don’t want them to get hurt.

In this example, the child is the profit-making side of the business. The BCM program is the protective clothing. Execs who care for their organizations should take steps to protect them. First and foremost among the kinds of protection a business needs is a sound BCM program.

Becoming Educators and Advocates

Unfortunately, too many executives are inclined to give their BCM staff and programs the brush-off. They are focused on increasing revenue and see BCM as a drain on time and resources. The good news is, the more responsible businesses out there are increasingly requiring that their vendors be able to demonstrate resilience, and this is having a positive effect across the supply chain.

Otherwise, BCM staff need to respond to the brush-off with the bounce-back. They need to become educators and advocates who are ready and willing to speak to their management in their own language, helping them understand how a good BCM program offers vital protection to the organization’s crown jewels.

Further Reading

For more information on what to do when management doesn’t care about BCM and other hot topics in BCM and IT/disaster recovery, check out these recent posts from BCMMETRICS and MHA Consulting:

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