The New Business Continuity Mindset – Unleashing Our Real Value!
This information is from my new book, The Ultimate Business Continuity Success Guide: How to Build Real-World Resilience and Unleash Exciting New Value Streams (2017). I hope you enjoy the chapter and my book.
This is where our mindset begins to change and our journey to organizational greatness truly begins, right here and right now…
If you asked me ‘What business are we in?’ My short answer would be:
‘We are in the business of Building Real Resilience AND Unleashing Beyond BC Value $treams:
- We instill a confident and knowledgeable culture to insure our organization can proactively understand and respond to any disruptive event we encounter. We might bend but we will NEVER break AND we will spring-back STRONGER than our previous state!
- As we are building resilience we are uniquely positioning ourselves to identify valuable new opportunities. These opportunities can be revenue generating and cost reducing.
- Our value is no longer solely limited to prepare, respond and recover!
My longer answer would include:
During developing resilience, we can present management with opportunities and risks at a deep level of detail. Currently you are probably deep-diving processes as part of your BIA, doing risk assessments and building plans. We can go much further in providing unique value and we will, possibly breaking new ground in many organizations. Information is power and we are the postman/postwoman. We will deliver!
At a slightly more detailed level – the heart of our value includes but is not limited to:
- The ability to respond to any type of disruptive event in an adaptive and flexible manner. We promote a culture that enables us to solve whatever is thrown at us.
- The ability to gain strength from any disruptive event we encounter and spring-back stronger than our previous state. Not the same as before – stronger and more resilient than before. We learn and get better!
- The ability to be resilient, which is as much a state of mind and culture as it is having written plans. No plan will be perfect and you must have the attitude, teamwork and skills to work your way through a crisis. We provide all of that!
- The ability to clearly understand management’s pain and relieve their pain.
- The ability to implement a high degree of situational awareness through tools and processes. This is critical to being proactive in risk identification, prevention and mitigation. It includes the ability to predict the probability of certain disruptive events becoming a reality.
- The ability to understand our organization from end-to-end, from the tip of multiple supply chain tiers to the customer and every step in between. This includes processes AND data flow. This will enable us to identify new opportunities for revenue creation and cost reduction.
- The ability to deliver quantitative AND qualitative insights to management. This can lead to many surprising opportunities.
- The ability to understand inter-relationships between ALL of our company’s assets. This can expose many previously well-hidden opportunities.
- The ability to maintain a 24x7x365 systems infrastructure where required. This is an expectation in many industries in a globally connected world. This can be a differentiator / money-maker in many critical time sensitive industries.
- The ability to clearly understand threats, risks, vulnerabilities and opportunities in real-time and have the capacity to act on them.
Are you excited? I know I am!
How we got from there to here…
In the beginning, there was Core Business Continuity:
When I came into the profession, business continuity was at a relatively early stage. My responsibilities focused on enabling my companies to continue to provide our services at a predefined acceptable level during and after a disruptive event. This was extremely important and ground-breaking at the time and for several years hence. Much of the work entailed understanding our business, our goals, risks, developing recovery strategies, documenting plans, testing and creating awareness. It was very important work.
Unfortunately, it was not easy to quantify the value. Believe it or not, in some circles I was considered an expense! A cost of doing business! Expendable! Fortunately, the story does not end there. Happily, I am now far from being an expense. Please read on…
Providing extraordinary value through ‘Business Resilience’ and a curious mindset:
Over the next few years the world got a lot faster and more complex. Customers and internal users had little tolerance for delays or non-receipt of products or services. The Internet exploded in popularity and became critical to many businesses. Global supply chains became much more complex. Just-in-time inventory created increased profits, as well as additional risks.
The business continuity profession quickly matured, out of necessity. Response and recovery time expectations shrunk and in many cases, went from recovery expectations measured in hours to 24x7x365 ‘always on’ expectations. Tools and technologies were developed that made meeting these more aggressive business expectations a reality.
As I gained experience, my thinking steadily shifted from how I could help develop strategies to keep the business going, to how I could provide additional value in more quantifiable ways.
I view our profession in a broad and strategic sense. By employing lateral thinking, I can uncover opportunities beyond core business continuity expectations. I am now an in-house entrepreneur who uses creativity and innovation to identify and communicate to management new opportunities. I have often been rewarded for producing value beyond expectations. It worked for me and it can work for you.
Do not get me wrong, our core business continuity responsibilities are still critically important. Building a strong business continuity foundation is as important today as it ever was. In fact, it is even more important now. We must get that right. What I learned through experience is that it is where our value only begins. It only scratches the surface of what we offer the fortunate organization that employs us. This is where true resilience and creativity kick in!
Throughout the book, I am going to demonstrate through examples and stories how we make companies more resilient in the traditional business continuity sense. I will also share how we can identify possible revenue and cost reduction opportunities, safety and security improvements, disruptors entering our business space (think Netflix-Blockbuster and Amazon-every brick and mortar retailer).
We will also discuss cyber threat mitigation, technology tools, hardware, software and Internet of Things. Each of these can provide great value and new ways to do business throughout an organization. I will keep the discussion simple and to the point.
This new value comes naturally. Due to the nature of our work, you and I are uniquely positioned to deep-dive and bring them to the surface. Incredibly, we can achieve much of it with little extra effort beyond the techniques we use in our profession. Where some projects may entail putting in greater effort they are so interesting, rewarding and trail-blazing that they are fun and time flies by. I know you can do it as I have done it many times.
You do not have to ‘sell them’ on our value. Simply provide value in every way you can, and they will want to buy what you can offer. People will realize the extraordinary value you provide and will want to be part of your Business Resilience / Continuity Success Story.
Here is a brief taste of how we bring value:
Tip – Communicate the profit / cost saving value possibilities to management, sales, marketing and all other processes. You do not have to commit to anything at this point. Make it part of your elevator speech, which we will discuss in an upcoming chapter. Have a short presentation. Load the presentation up with some of the tips below plus your own.
Tip – Let sales know that when they are competing for a new client, the prospect may require that your company has a business continuity program in place. The answer is yes, you have one! Sales can lead with that without being asked. All things equal, that may be the differentiation in making a sale. If so, the salesperson owes you lunch – and more!
Tip – Provide sales with powerful stories and stats recounting how your company was prepared and had zero business interruption during the last natural or man-made crisis. Competitor X went out of business and competitor Y sustained long customer delays and non-delivery of services. That really angered people. Leverage these stories and if you have pictures, so much the better.
Tip – Your resilience program can lead to process improvement.
Tip – Your resilience program can eliminate redundancy.
Tip –Your resilience program can identify cost savings and revenue opportunities -a few examples in the book include ‘Spinning data into Gold’ and the ‘Golden Opportunities to Generate Beyond BC Value Streams’. There are many other chapters that identify opportunities you may find fruitful.
Tip – Your resilience program can reduce risks across the board – regulatory, revenue, loss of customers, branding. Reduced risk will be appreciated by insurers and may even entitle you to lower premiums.
Tip – Your resilience program can improve data quality. This is an adjunct to what we do when implementing data-driven systems across the organization. Data can be a company’s second most valuable asset – behind people, of course. Great data can be spun into dollars – more details on that later. Bad data will be very expensive. We talk a lot about data in the book.
Tip – Your resilience program should have end-to-end mapping of your internal and external supply chain that may identify additional revenue generating / cost reduction opportunities that can provide exciting new ways to do business.
Tip – Your resilience program may identify possible competitive business destroying disruptors entering your niche.
Tip – Your resilience program may identify possible disruptive business strategies your company can leverage to generate revenue and own your business niche.
Tip – Your resilience program can identify cyber risks that can keep your upper management off the front page – read ‘Cyber breaches = C’s that lost their jobs’ in the Risk Management part of this book. We also discuss a lot of technology risks that may scare you a bit but it is better to know about them now then to lose your network and your business.
Special Note: All the above is true and will excite the right people. However, as Ron Popeil used to say when selling on TV, ‘but wait, there is more!’… there is no need for you to be satisfied with ‘static’ results. If you are so inclined you can build a dynamic resilience program to automatically identify new threats, risks and opportunities in real-time! Your system can even automatically serve management a gorgeous daily intelligence briefing, while you are sipping your coffee! Let’s talk about that a bit later when we discuss program assessments, tools and technology. That is my special passion!
The story below is based on an entrepreneur’s experience in the food industry but it is relevant to you and me. It demonstrates how a slight shift in thinking can present vast, formerly unrealized, opportunities.
Many years ago, I had the same sort of shift in thinking while building resilience programs and it has paid extraordinary dividends. I now apply this ‘slant methodology’ to many areas of business and life. I discuss my experiences throughout the book. I am confident you are positioned in your organization to derive unforeseen value by way of your daily work.
The Founder, a movie starring Michael Keaton, is about Ray Kroc and his significant influence on making McDonald’s (R) a leading fast-food chain. I enjoyed the movie. It is an interesting business case-study on how a small innovative hamburger stand in California became a world-wide enterprise.
Ray Kroc was a hard-driving salesperson. The movie opens with him selling multi-mixers with ‘mixed success’. Somehow, he gets an unusually large order from a small fast food restaurant located in San Bernardino, California run by Dick and Mac McDonald. He phones them to let them know they somehow mistakenly ordered several multi-mixers – only it was not a mistake.
Ray is intrigued. He packs his car and drives from Nevada to personally deliver the multi-mixers to the brothers. When he arrives, he is mesmerized with their ‘lean’ fast food business model. To make a long story short, he suggests and they agree to sell franchises.
Ray is passionate about the business and becomes adept at selling McDonald’s franchises to people in all walks of life. Unfortunately, his contract with the brothers earns him a meager few cents on each hamburger sold and not much more. It seems somehow the more he sells the less he earns. At a point of desperation, he meets a finance maven named Harry J. Sonneborn. Ray and Harry hit it off and Harry winds up reviewing McDonald’s cash flow and balance sheets.
In my favorite part of the movie during Ray’s lowest point, Harry asks Ray the seemingly silly question, ‘Do you know what business you are in?‘ Ray is dumbfounded and replies, ‘The Hamburger Business, of course.’
Harry pauses and delivers the gold, “No Ray, you do not seem to realize what business you are in. You’re not in the burger business; you are in the real estate business.” This ‘out of left field’ insight and a brief explanation of how to turn his business into a goldmine instantly turned the light on for Ray (this scene is on YouTube).
Location is everything. Franchisees needed great real estate locations. It is in limited supply. Ray started leasing real estate and sub-leasing it to franchisees at a healthy markup. Later he started buying real estate and leased it to franchisees at an even healthier markup. Whether a franchisee made money or not this new revenue stream flowed to Ray. It was brilliant and it applies to us.
Developing resilience places us in a unique position to understand our organizations and develop value way beyond our core responsibilities. We must keep our eyes and ears attuned. We must think like internal entrepreneurs. We must be bold. We must think beyond mediocrity and create greatness. Make a better future for your organization and yourself!
Going forward we will dive into a series of chapters that will help you start building a solid foundation. Many of the techniques can also be applied to projects beyond resilience. Perhaps, they can benefit some of your colleagues in other business parts of your organization. We will discuss getting off on the right foot, building relationships and selling yourself. We will discuss embracing and overcoming any challenges you encounter. There will be challenges but nothing will stop you from moving forward and attaining true business resilience!
I am thrilled you are joining me on this ground-breaking journey!