Nothing. The leader’s job should be complete before the emergency arises. Prescience, foresight, risk management. It is preparedness for you and your team.  I learned the lesson when deployed with Australians on a peacekeeping mission in Cambodia – Australian soldiers in the most mined county in the world with French aviators, German medical staff, and three hours away from the nearest hospital in Thailand.  What could possibly go wrong?

Our first casualty was a soldier hit by a motor vehicle. The hardest thing I had to do was sit on my hands and not get involved. It was traumatic, for me as well as the soldier – who fully recovered by the way. The process ran like clockwork.

It wasn’t good luck that everyone knew what to do – we had prepared, liaised, reconnoitred, written SOPs and rehearsed.  The military is a high-risk occupation. I had learned that taking risks was part of life but also that risk-taking isn’t gambling. Gambling is taking chances, risk-taking is making managed choices.

If you run a business, public or private, you are in the business of managing risk.

I saw it done well again during the Canberra bushfires of 2003 when I was a GM at Transact, a start-up communications company in those days. Most of the network was run above ground. It was the smart business choice, offering the best return on investment for a cash-strapped organisation with investors wanting rapid returns.  It was also a higher risk than underground cables.  The fires destroyed half the network, but a recent exercise in testing business continuity meant that the team knew their roles: who was doing repair and recovery, who was speaking, who was engaging the insurance companies, that the priority was the restoration of service and keeping customers satisfied and safe – while defending against a rapacious competitor.

There was more to do as a leader in this instance because the circumstances were not textbook, but we had a strong foundation, and we were adapting not reacting. Preparation, again, was the key to success.

Despite most of us knowing the principles, so many organisations are clearly ill-prepared. The self-congratulations after COVID belied the rapid paddling most organisations went through just to operate, and some barely managed to do that. Despite all the time and effort put into business continuity plans, they were largely shelfware. More focussed on the process of planning than planning the action.

Even supposed experts like PwC didn’t seem to take their own advice on crisis management, and the shocking communication and response by Optus over their recent outage were both simply avoidable “own goals”.

Being able to keep operating and being able to resume normal operations as quickly as possible, when the world throws an unexpected curve ball is Operational Resilience. Simply, it is expecting the unexpected and preparing to respond. Flexibility is being able to adapt your plan, not creating a plan in the middle of a crisis.

How resilient are you?

If you don’t know the answer, you should find out. Unfortunately, the answer to that question is too often influenced by confirmation bias. The accepting of answers that confirm our preconceived views. “We have done the work”, we will be all right”, we can handle it when it arises”, are the claims all too often heard. Personally, I have always felt more comfortable when I have some evidence to support the claims.

I prefer evidence over pronouncements no matter how confidently made, but how much proof and at what cost?

We built a Rapid Diagnostic for Operational Resilience to answer this question, affordably.

We look for common proof points, guiding your team to pull together the evidence to demonstrate their preparedness. Sometimes we see a flurry of activity to fill in the gaps, that’s a good outcome, and sometimes we see a gap that needs filling, also a good outcome. Independence matters.

It is evidence-based, highly structured and done virtually so that it is low cost and low impact on your team while highly valuable to your peace of mind. We have built fixed-fee, tailored versions for businesses, large and small public sector organisations, and local councils.

We know, from experience, that you will not be able to do everything that might be done.  We deliver a prioritised action plan – the most effective actions for the most impact.

If you run a business, public or private, you are in the business of managing risk. The choice of what to do is yours, but a choice to do nothing is gambling.

Talk to us today about your peace of mind. Click here to learn more.

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Don’t be caught playing it too safe

If past approaches haven’t worked, it might be time to try something new. Talk to us about what we have done, and what we might do for you.

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