Reducing the Impact of Business Disruption on Operations – Improving Upon Organization Resilience (Part 2)
By Gamal Newry
May 1, 2013 - 12:14:34 PM
In the Bahamas we watched during the of April 1, 2013 members of the BEC Union prevented access and egress from the corporations Blue Hill Road Office, these event types and those such as the domestic terrorist events of the Boston Marathon are all examples of disruption happenings that required human intervention at various stages for the protection, prevention, preparation, response and, recovery from these incidents.
With this in mind we can now direct our attention to what in my opinion is the most critical element in this equation. This is the human factor, I think David Brooks' May 27, 2010 Op-Ed piece in the New York Times titled "Drilling for Certainty" is point on when he sums up risk perception as follows;
"Humans are not great at measuring and responding to risk when placed in situations too complicated to understand."
1. People have trouble imagining how small failings can combine to lead to catastrophic disasters.
2. People have a tendency to get acclimated to risk and to living with small failures.
3. People place elaborate faith in backup systems and safety devices often without testing their assumptions.
4. People have a tendency to match complicated technical systems with complicated - and often unclear - governing structures.
5. People tend to spread good news and hide bad news.
6. People in the same field begin to think alike and cease to see the larger context.
Essentially what Brooks is suggesting is that notwithstanding our best efforts in management if the human element is not adequately accounted for the system will fail. I cannot agree more as often when conducting training be it self-defense or emergency preparedness, I am often advise that when panic occurs all reason and in some instances sensibility is thrown out the window. Here in, in my opinion is the where the success of any resilience system is so heavily dependent on ‘Preparedness’ or rather readiness based on awareness and education.
The single point and critical point of failure is the ability or rather the inability of concerned parties to respond adequately to a particular event. Thus they must be educated, trained, drilled, and tested so that response is appropriate and efficient in the first instance; and in the second familiar with alternatives and given some room to be innovative. Notwithstanding, we believe that If plans are not drilled and tested then they are mare words that have no meaning. However as Brooks further states that;
“But the real issue has to do with risk assessment. It has to do with the bloody crossroads where complex technical systems meet human psychology.”
The plan, policy, procedure or whatever you want to call it must be given a human face and feelings. For example during an emergency evacuation, evacuees are told to leave their personnel items behind, however is the ‘office diva’ really going to leave her designer hand bag behind, filled with lipstick and makeup, not to mention the matching wallet. On the other ends of the spectrum what about handicapped individuals who must now use the stairwell as opposed to the elevator or the hearing impaired who does not hear the alarm, are they to be left on their own or are employee assigned to help them? What happens if the evacuation is occurring during a heavy down power? These questions and the like demand more than just saying what you are going to do, but also doing it, proving it and certainly because of the human element improving upon it.
The end result is a robust management system that ensures the organization maintains its market readiness, survivability, and sustainability. But this is not business acumen as you were probably trained in banking, law or as hotelier. Never the less today’s market requires full participation in this process, or wish you did.
Reducing the Impact of Business Disruption on Operations – Improving Upon Organization Resilience (Part 1)
is the president of Preventative Measures, loss prevention and asset
protection training and consulting company, specializing in policy and
procedure development, business security reviews and audits, and
emergency and crisis management. Comments can be sent to PO Box N-3154
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