I will bet Tom Brady Manning looked into the eyes of his wide receivers in the huddle thousands of times over his successful career and said, ‘Go wide go deep ‘. When I played wide receiver, I loved when the QB told me to go wide go deep! Aggressively going wide and deep, can be keys to your building a strong resilience program.

I see it way too often. An organization decides to implement a new Business Continuity Program or improve their existing program. They are gung-ho but move sloooowly. Management interest and support begins to wane. There is not that sense of urgency that crisis management and continuity of operations requires. This is bad.

The nightmare scenario is you spend a year or two focusing on a few locations. Unfortunately, a disruptive event does not know you are not ready and severely impacts a location. It could be a life threatening natural / man made event or a continuity of operations disruption such as a squirrel (more on squirrels later) eats thru a single point of failure (SPOF) power line or a backhoe cuts power and the impact is all of your systems are down. Possibly a hurricane makes a direct hit on one of your locations. If you do not have plans in place and are caught sitting on your hands you know who will be in the hot seat – YOU.

You will forever be referred to in the former tense (if the company is still in business), ‘remember Wilbur the BC guy, really nice guy. But he should have worked with a sense of urgency and had something in place to respond…’

Hence my strong advice is to be proactive!  Drive your program forward today. Touch all points of the organization.

Yes, we must be detailed. Yes, we may have hundreds or thousands of locations and employees. Yes, some processes are more time-sensitive than others. I completely understand all of that. The point is to get at least the basics out there for crisis management, emergency response and continuity of operations.

Show progress. Win management and employees over with your aggressive – value laden approach. If you wait too many weeks, months or years – trouble will surely find you at some point. You can only dodge this bullet so long. If something happens and you are not prepared – you might not get a second chance.

Tip – Do not fall into the trap of paralysis by analysis. Don’t overthink it.

Tip – A quick win would be to call or email the senior officer at each location to introduce yourself. Begin building relationships. Communicate crisis management and emergency response best practices- critical phone numbers, evacuation, accounting for employees… Start building those critical relationships and disseminating information early.

Tip – You must have contact information for the key people and backups at every location in your organization.

Tip – Get crisis management, emergency response and basic business continuity plans into the field. Don’t drag your feet on this. You can then improve your resilience maturity level on top of the basics you have already put in play. You will sleep better knowing this information has been distributed. Your employees depend on it.

Tip – add a short (or long) online quiz:

To analyze the level of crisis management understanding and to insure the streamlined plan you sent was read by the recipients you can add an online quiz. Incident Commanders can take the quiz after reading the streamlined plan. When they ‘submit’ the answers your back-end system can score it and save the results. No human intervention required!

It is a win-win process. Even if the person taking the quiz answers incorrectly the system can automatically send a reply with the correct answer and some supporting information. This process creates a positive feedback loop. It is beautiful, non-threatening and an opportunity to create awareness.

Here are three ways you can add an automated quiz to your Go Wide Go Deep Emergency Response / Business Continuity Plan Initiative:

  1. Use your Business Continuity Management (BCM) system to create, send and score the survey. You can use assessment criteria, triggers and workflows to implement an end-to-end solution if you have a powerful BCM tool. We will discuss BCM system selection criteria in another post on UltimateBusinessContinuity.com.
  2. Use a survey specific tool such as Survey Monkey. It has full featured surveys and it is priced fairly. The down-side is if your goal is to tightly integrate the data with your in-house BCM tool it may be difficult. You can try to do it with the Survey Monkey API. I will be testing the API and I would be happy to provide you with an update if you contact me.
  3. You can build the quiz process in-house using your email system and a data repository for the results. I have done this on occasion and it worked, but unless you have the luxury of extra time and enjoy coding on the weekends and nights (which I love to do), you would be better served using either your BCM system or a tool such as Survey Monkey.

Do not procrastinate:

Perhaps, the initial iteration of your plans will not be perfect but it is far better than waiting a year or two or three to get plans in place throughout your organization. Remember, what we always preach to users, “73% of companies that incur a disaster and do not have tested plans in place go out of business within three years.” Unfortunately, disasters do not wait until you are ready for them.

Once your initial set of crisis management, emergency response and business continuity plans are in place, aggressively test, update and improve them. You can even call the initial versions ‘interim plans’ to level-set that they are ‘living documents’ and will improve over time.

The important point is to begin today. Do not wait to start building your foundation and distributing critical information.

Go wide go deep – you will score that winning career touchdown!