Thursday, May 1, 2008

About this scrivener

It belatedly occurred to me that my pontificating may cause some readers to ask themselves: "Who is this person and by what right does he mount the Enterprise Risk Management - Business Continuity soap box ?"

Good question.

I came to business continuity (BC) in 1994 via technical documentation, "tech pubs." I got there by way of a newspaper printer's apprenticeship (a "devil" of a job at the Orlando [FL] Sentinel-Star and Gannett's first Today, in Cocoa FL), reporting and editing at sundry daily and weekly newspapers across the Several States, and PR work in the US and overseas. I "became" a tech writer while overseas, and over the course of my tech writing years I documented commercial and mil-spec electronics, telecommunications systems, and process control systems a/k/a control valves of various sizes and types.

I was working as a tech writer/consultant for Trecom Business Systems when I first encountered "business continuity." Trecom morphed into DMR Consulting Services which was absorbed into Fujitsu Consulting.

My first "real" business continuity work was while I was employed by DMR (nee' Trecom) in Tampa FL. The job: create a quick fall back (failover) plan for a company which convinced one of its clients that it "had a plan." Fortunately, the people working on the plan - the Business Unit Manager, the Technical Director, and this scrivener - already had a working knowledge of our client's operations, so putting something together to keep both our client and our client's client happy was a relatively easy assignment.

There were several Y2K search and destroy missions during this period. Not true business continuity, but it was reinforced to me that risks - even Y2K risks - are sometimes less than obvious. One Y2K project was for a luxury hotel; we went looking for "time bombs" in such places as the kitchen, personnel, and wake-up service, among others, as well as servers and desktop devices. You'd be surprised to know how many things have an embedded computer. Another Y2K job had me tracking down components used in manufacture of vehicle airbag assemblies.

Not exciting? Consider that the airbags are, or at least were, inflated by an explosive charge. The company's R&D folks "played with" Class A explosives. This stint introduced me to risks - and remedies - I previously never considered. It also impressed upon me the need for close coordination between the organization with the plan and external organizations such as EMTs, fire, and police, not to mention planning and zoning agencies.

Somewhere in the mix I was involved in true business continuity planning for a state agency. The state has a "sunshine law" which puts all but the most sensitive information out for all to see. But this state also had a rule that break times were sacred - come lunch time, interviews were interrupted no matter what the cost in continuity. Lesson learned: plan ahead and schedule accordingly.

Since DMR, I have worked at a variety of organizations, including "the" name in the travel and entertainment industry, a "major" insurance company, an Israeli-headquartered shipping company, a municipal government, an energy exploration company, and some others. Today I am applying my expertise in the defense industry.

Once a writer, always a writer. Or, put another way, I love to share what I know about what I do.

That sounds a little like "weasel wording," but it means while I will talk to anyone, any time, about GENERIC enterprise risk management - business continuity - COOP, plan specifics are "off limits."

Over the years I posted more than 200 articles and presentations on my Web site ( and John Glenn articles have been appearing twice-a-year in the quarterly Disaster Recovery Journal (DRJ) for several years. The articles are, for the most part, "generic" ERM/BC in that unlike vendor articles, mine focus on function rather than product.

My byline also pops up in other professional and general media.

That doesn't mean everyone agrees with everything I write or that I know everything there is to know about enterprise risk management - business continuity - COOP.

Some of the people I value most are those who either disagree with my thoughts or who help me expand those thoughts. They remind me that plans never should be created in a vacuum.

COOP, by the way, is "Continuation Of OPerations," not "Continuation Of Operations Planning." Either way, it is "Fed speak" for enterprise risk management.

John Glenn, MBCI, SRP Enterprise Risk Management/Business Continuity Planner @

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