Wednesday, January 28, 2009

ERM-BC-COOP: Training and exercises - redux

(The "Training, exercises pay off" article for which this is the "redux" is found on

The following is from Hal Newman's Big Medicine Web site:

Research identifies risk factors that affected World Trade Center evacuation [Jan 27 New York NY]--Researchers at Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health have released findings identifying factors that affected evacuation from the World Trade Center (WTC) Towers on September 11. A research methodology known as participatory action research (PAR) was used to identify individual, organizational, and structural (environmental) barriers to safe and rapid evacuation.

Among the findings that should be of particular interest to Enterprise Risk Management/Business Continuity practitioners/

WTC evaluation initiation was delayed by lack of awareness and experience in evacuation procedures; making phone calls; seeking out co-workers; and personal concerns about one's own ability (e.g. health and stamina) to descend multiple flights of stairs.

Workers also delayed their evacuation because they were waiting for their supervisor's permission to leave.

The length of time for the entire evacuation process was lengthened by inappropriate footwear; confusion about where the staircases were located and where they terminated; and periodic congestion on stairs.

Injuries were associated most often with physical disabilities (i.e., those with physical disabilities were more likely to be injured during the evacuation process).

Bottom line, many of the "risk factors" identified in the report could have been avoided or mitigated by a decent, exercised risk management program (note that is "program," not "one-shot project").

As examples:

Lack of awareness and experience in evacuation procedures

    That is a two-prong problem that needs a two-prong response.

    First, people need to know where to find the primary and alternate exits. Maps need to be posted in multiple sites where people congregate and maps need to be given to each new hire as part of the orientation/indoctrination package.

    Illuminated paths to exits a la' theatre and aircraft exit route lighting. Paths - both primary and alternate - need to be regularly reviewed with all personnel

Making phone calls

    There's not much that can be done with this situation short of having a Fire Warden yank the phone out of the wall. I don't think education or policies and procedures will have an effect on such people. I can understand someone wanting to call home, especially in the case of September 11, but the first priority is to try and stay alive, not to say good-byes.

Seeking out co-workers; and personal concerns about one's own ability (e.g. health and stamina) to descend multiple flights of stairs

    In two words: Buddy Teams.

    Buddy teams are groups of 5 to 10 people who work and socialize together. They account for each other and provide assistance to each other as necessary. Because they work closely together, they usually are aware of both permanent and temporary disabilities. Pregnancy falls into the latter category, as does a sprained ankle.

Waiting for their supervisor's permission to leave

    This should never - repeat, never - happen.

    This, like the exit maps, should be part of new hire orientation and, like exit maps, should be reinforced on a regular, e.g., quarterly or more frequent, basis. If the alarm sounds, move!

    The only acceptable delay is to either (a) call a central number alerting someone of the danger (e.g., a fire in the caller's work area) or (b) initiating the alarm on the way to the exit.

Inappropriate footwear

    I suspect this applies primarily to the ladies who favor high heels.

    Ladies, if you don't want to keep a pair of walking shoes handy, then be prepared to sacrifice your stockings; carry your shoes and exit barefoot. Barefoot exits are Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for aircraft and watercraft evacuations; it should be SOP for any evacuation where the footwear would slow down the exiting process.

Confusion about where the staircases were located and where they terminated

Periodic congestion on stairs

    In the case of the World Trade Center towers, I doubt congestion could be prevented. Too many people, too many floors, too few exit paths.

    The way to mitigate congestion is to train people to evacuate in stages. Impacted floor(s) first followed, I suggest, by higher floors (especially in a fire situation).

    There also was talk of keeping elevators operational, but blocking them on the impacted floor and one floor above and one floor below the impacted floor. This requires some engineering effort to arrange for positive pressure in the elevator shaft(s).

Most of the mitigating measures seem like a "no-brainer" to this practitioner, and certainly I am not the first to consider them.

So why were people ill prepared?

Perhaps no one listened to the planners.

Besides, who ever thought an airplane would crash into the building. That just never happens, except it does (Empire State Building, 1945) and it did.

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

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

ERM-BC-COOP: Seeing is not believing

One of the Fortune 100s that recently was in the news because it intends to layoff thousands of employees apparently saw, and ignored, the "writing on the wall."

A few years ago I read that this company's US business was dropping off.

Its international business was OK, but at home neither it nor its competitors were setting sales records.

We live in an international economy.

When we do OK financially in the US, most of the rest of the world does likewise.

When our economy goes sour, most of the rest of the world economies follow suit, later if not sooner.

I have to wonder if, had the Fortune 100 accurately read economic trends, it would be necessary to lay off "in one fell swoop" the several thousand soon to be heading for the dole.

Could layoffs have been avoided?

Probably not.

Could the number of laid off people been reduced? Probably, by attrition.

The shop is unionized so the company had to cooperate with union leaders.

What would have been better, I think, is for the company to have done a couple of things starting back when the US market started to tank.

1. Allow, when possible, attrition to take its toll. There is a limit on this, and as I wrote earlier, the union has to be in agreement.

2. Lay off people in smaller numbers. This would allow other employers, both locally and nationally, to absorb some of the furloughed personnel. It also would allow younger people to retrain out of the industry without putting a burden on trainers (so the training organizations would not have a short-term employment bump only to have to lay off their personnel later).

Granted, hind sight is a wonderful thing.

But, based on what I know - and admittedly I am not privy to this company's inner workings or the union - it seems some of the pain could have been if not avoided at least mitigated.

I'm reasonably certain this company has "business continuity." Maybe even "real" business continuity, but I suspect that either the planner was not privy to the company's inner financial workings (although the drop in domestic sales was public information) or if the planner was privy, the planner either failed to warn management or management failed to heed the warning.

The company is headquartered in a relatively small town which means that not only will the people laid off suffer, the entire community will suffer with the ripple (domino if you prefer) effect.

I get laid off. I can't pay my mortgage. Buying food for my family has to be restricted - more peanut butter, less steak. That new car I was considering no longer is possible. The home improvements I intended to start with materials from the local hardware store will have to be put off. Our weekly night out is cancelled.

My visit to the doctor will be limited to emergencies and I may start skipping some of my medications.

Now, multiply my plight by n-thousand others and you can begin to see the impact this massive layoff will have on the community.

If that isn't bad enough, the company's vendors will see lower sales and they, too, may have to lay off people.

I am not an economist and I don't play one on tv.

I am smart enough to know that economists are SMEs that need to be included in business continuity plan development - along with Legal, HR, Facilities, InfoTech, Shipping & Receiving, Production, Sales, Marketing, and all the other profit centers and profit center resources.

It was no secret this public company's domestic sales were off.

Why nothing was done when this became known is something known only to the company's management.

It's a good company; it has the benchmark products in its industry (and consequently is the target of its many competitors).

I hope the layoffs are short term, but I have my doubts.

If nothing else, maybe we all can learn some lessons from this unfortunate situation.

We need to learn to read the writing on the wall.

Management needs to be candid with the enterprise risk management/business continuity practitioners, and it would be wise to solicit and listen to the practitioner's advice.

Maybe the layoffs were inevitable, but maybe, just maybe, the impact could have been mitigated.

John Glenn, MBCI
JohnGlennMBCI @ gmail dot com

Sunday, January 25, 2009

ERM-BC-COOP: No experience needed

President Osama has no experience.

Vice President Biden has no experience.

Ex-President Bush pretended he had experience.

Ex-VP and Ex-Secretary of Defense Chaney had no experience.

Ex-Secretary of Defense Gates had very limited experience.

Think about that the next time someone tells you an Enterprise Risk Management/Business Continuity practitioner has to have an extensive - or any - IT background.

None - repeat, none - of the executives listed above had any military experience of consequence.

Presidents are the military's Commander-in-Chief (CinC); the military's boss.

Their chief advisors are their VPs and Secretaries of Defense.

For the last several years, and for years to come - the CinC and his closest advisors got their information filtered by people with no knowledge of the military beyond photo ops.

If my tone sounds a bit sour, it is - on two counts.

First, I was in the military and while I certainly am NOT qualified to command any one any where, I know people who are qualified and these are people I would want to be the closest, most respected advisors to the CinC. Having someone who possibly dodged the draft - are any of the No Experience List above young enough to been "too young" for the draft? - in a position to determine military direction is scary. These people are supposed to be the military Subject Matter Experts (SMEs).

Since both ex-president and ex-vp and incumbent president and incumbent vp lack any military experience of consequence, they must depend on SMEs, albeit once or twice removed from the actual uniformed services.

So what's my point?

Who are the presidents?

One was a former governor.

Another briefly a US senator.



Health experts?


Transportation gurus?


Security authorities?


One is a lawyer; the other a speculator (land, oil).

Would it help if the county's chief executives were experts in anything beyond people management?

Probably not.

They ARE expected to surround themselves with SMEs in the various fields.

About the same situation as that of an Enterprise Risk Management/Business Continuity practitioner.

The practitioner must be an expert in ERM/BC.

The practitioner, especially if the practitioner is heading up an on-going program (vs. a project), must be an ERM/BC expert and a personnel management expert - or at least owner of both carrot and stick.

Maybe these are sour grapes.

I am not an IT maven. I know something about InfoTech.

I also know something about economics, health care, transportation, and security.

In fact, I know something about a lot of things, partially because I was a voracious reader and partially because I worked for years in documentation in one form (journalism, pr, marketing) or another (proposals, tech manuals, user guides).

But I am hardly an expert in any of the above.

Knowing that, I surround myself with people who ARE experts in their fields.

Experts in the organizations for which I ply my trade.

Experts in my own network of people I have come to trust.

So, one more time, explain to me why as an expert (in my own mind, at least) in Enterprise Risk Management/Business Continuity and a pretty good people manager, I need to have an in-depth IT background - or HR or Finance or Production or ... - to create a plan that will help assure my organization will survive a disaster event.

Look at our government.

What are the qualifications to be the nation's chief executive, vp, and cabinet?

Look a little farther down the management list and ask who is in charge of the departments - DHS, Justice, Transportation, et al.

At least the people I depend upon ARE experts in their fields.

After thought: Planners can (should) learn from everyone.

I have been making money taking photographs for years. I have some then-state-of-the-art cameras (Canon F-1, Cambo 4*5) and a super-strong Slick Master tripod.

My Number 2 son just gifted me with an 8 maga-pixel snapshot digi-cam (Canon SD1100) with a neat feature called "stitching" allowing multiple frames to be "stitched" together into a w-i-d-e panorama. Problem is, the camera needs to be kept pretty level and that is not easy.

I dusted off my Slick and mounted the itty bitty Canon digi-cam onto it. Talk about over kill. But it WOULD keep the camera level. Still, dragging along this tripod as I travel the world . . . a bit too much. What to do?

Number 2, strictly a snap-shooter, albeit with some gear I covet, had the answer.

The screw on top of lamps that are used to secure lamp shades is the same diameter as the tripod screw; near perfect mate for the camera's tripod socket ! (Yes, I tried it.)

Information, good information, comes from many sources; learn to appreciate it.

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

Thursday, January 22, 2009

ERM-BC-COOP: Acronyms and Jess O. Gregory

I discovered a fun page by accident the other day,

I have no idea how I stumbled - maybe "fat fingered" - across the site, but it made me feel good.

The site is called The Free Dictionary by Farlex and the part I found most amusing was the acronyms section (

In addition to the acronyms collection, there also are tabs for

  • Dictionary/Thesaurus
  • Medical dictionary
  • Legal dictionary
  • Financial dictionary
  • Encyclopedia
  • Wikipedia encyclopedia

Since I railJOG about alphabet soup from time to time, I thought I'd look up some of my favorites.

BCM presented me with 65 items, including Business Continuity Management

BCP was a bit better; of the 79 items, there were three "relevant" hits:
   Business Contingency Plan
   Business Continuity Plan
   and Business Continuity Planning

ERM, one of my favorites, gave me a list of 45 options, including Enterprise Risk Management

COOP only showed 18 entries, but it did include Continuation of Operations; note the "P" as part of oPerations, not "Planning."

RPO had a list of 33 options, including Recovery Point Objective with the parenthetical note (disaster recovery) after the entry.

RTO had even more entries than RPO, besting it with a total of 47. The RTO list included Recovery Time Objective with the same parenthetical note (disaster recovery) after the entry.

Many years ago, as a young reporter (no, Gutenberg was not my typesetter) I learned to "spell it out" on first reference. As a technical writer, I added to that admonishment: "and on each chapter's first reference."

I don't like acronyms.

I don't like buzz words.

I don't like it when people use trade jargon when talking to someone - me - who is in a different trade.

Since I don't like it, it seems the least I can do for my clients is to avoid words, terms, and acronyms they don't comprehend at once.

It has been my experience that most have little or no conception of what Enterprise Risk Management and Business Continuity are all about.

There are a few of us "wimps" who go to our doctor and when we leave still don't know what ails us simply because the physician spoke in Doctor Speak and we were too awed to ask the practitioner what the words meant "in plain English" (or whatever our language).

I'm not sure if it was in Pygmalion or only in the My Fair Lady adaptation, but I vividly recall Professor 'enry 'iggins' complaint: "Why can't the English learn to speak ... the language." My question is equally simple: Why can't professionals speak a common language?

I am not a doctor and I don't play one on tv.

Nor am I a lawyer, or realtor, or Info Tech guru, or any of a great number of other professions or trades.

As Popeye the Sailor was wont to exclaim, "I am what I am" - a person with a reasonable general vocabulary who has enough common sense and courtesy to talk to people who know little or nothing about what I do in terms they can comprehend and with which they are comfortable.

JOG - The third definition, in honor of "Third Definition" Jess Gregory, a former honest journalist-turned-flack. Back to where you were

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

Monday, January 19, 2009

ERM-BC-COOP: Neighborhood events

I currently hang my hat in Northern Virginia (despite my Fort Lauderdale-where-it's-much-warmer Florida address).

Today is Martin Luther King Jr. memorial day.

A Federal holiday.

The Metro light rail is running on a Saturday schedule - that means parking at the stations is free, but there are fewer trains.

Virginia Railway Express - VRE - trains are not running. Translation: If you ride the rails to work, plan driving in or staying home.

Normally, a Federal holiday would mean less traffic on the roads - major highways down to the neighborhood side streets. A Federal holiday almost always means a school holiday.

But not today.

Today there are reports of increased traffic.

High Occupancy Traffic (HOT) lanes that require two or three occupants per vehicle are in force.

Lots of the cars on the roads carry "foreign" license plates; plates from Florida, Oklahoma. Michigan - and rental cars with drivers from anyone's guess. Texas, even.

Seems that there's something on the District of Columbia (D.C.) calendar for Tuesday, January 20, 2009.

A presidential inauguration.

All presidential first inaugurations are "an historic event." This one maybe more so.

I work in the commercial or "civilian" sector - that's anyone who works for any organization other than a government, be it federal, state, county, (township), or municipal.

Translation: I'm was at the office today and I will be at the office tomorrow.

Since I don't work in The District (of Columbia), the fact that Virginia will close all the bridges into the national capital tomorrow is of no concern to me. If I did work in D.C., I would either have to take my chances that the Capital Beltway (I-495) is wreck-free and work my way around to Maryland from the east or more or less follow General Lee's path west to cross the Potomac at a place called Point of Rocks and, once in Maryland, work my way toward D.C. Neither option would be greeted with enthusiasm.

I still might not be able to get to work due to traffic restrictions so the only option I would have to show up at the worksite would be to haul my air mattress into work and camp out overnight.

But there is an option.

I can work from elsewhere.

I could work from the house.

I pay for a "high speed" internet connection. The company provides me with a notebook computer set up to access the corporate intranet (via VPN) and I have a token for multi-level authentication.

I also could present myself - since myemployer has multiple locations around the nation's capital - at most company facilities and be a "squatter," connecting into the corporate net sans my personal ISP. (OK, I also could park my car near the local Starbucks or McDonalds and take advantage of their WiFi connection.)

The company provides me with a cell phone - I'm on call 24*7 both as the division Business Continuity manager and as a member of the Crisis Management Team - so as I sat outside Starbucks or McDonalds, or as I hunkered down at the house with Franklin at my feet - I could field any calls from my "realm" that extends south to the Gulf and west to California. (My office phone's "I'm not here" message announces the cell number; security prevents forwarding calls to an external phone, just as security prevents automatically forwarding emails to a non-corporate address.)

The problem, however, is that maximum productivity can come only if I sit in a company office.


According to the company communications gurus, both Internet and cell phone traffic is expected to be extremely high Tuesday, and probably for several days thereafter.

At best, peak hour connections will be s-l-o-w (pity the person with a dial-up connection; their patience needs to exceed their mobility) and cellular communication will be degraded; per the gurus, "all carriers expect temporary call delays, delays in the delivery of text messages, and dropped or blocked calls for customers in and around the capital, especially during peak call times."

One of the many things an Enterprise Risk Management/Business Continuity practitioner (that's me) needs to consider is the impact of neighbors on the organization.

This was brought clearly to my attention several years ago by an HR manager - remember my maxim: you can't create a plan in a vacuum - who noted that my then-employer's neighbor was an insurance company staffed largely by retired military, a "target" for some activists.

(Never mind that the company employing me at the time was obviously Israeli; I suspect the company's neighbors - who had a high fence around their facilities - worried more about us than we needed to worry about them.)

Then the concern was for disruptions of one form (street blockage) or another (bombs).

The bottom line was that I became more aware of "neighborhood events."

Such events need not be threats of violence.

They can, and often are, something as innocent as a parade.

Or an ambulance call; someone fell or someone's heart started misbehaving.

They can, and more frequently are, weather related.

Anything that can hinder access to and egress from the workplace.

For employees.

For vendors - including the letter carrier and couriers.

For customers and potential clients.

(Yes, Virginia, leaving the workplace can be just as important - just ask a parent who has to pick up a child from school or day care, or a person on a special diet that has already eaten their mid-day meal, or a person on medication to be taken every "n" hours.)

These risks should be, in the grand scheme of things, mere inconveniences.

Providing that the threats, innocent or otherwise, are considered and that appropriate mitigation measures put into place.

Sometimes organization's have to "bite the bullet" and allow an interruption to run its course.

In the case of the inauguration, that means reduced productivity for a few days.

What about a production line?

For an event like "an historic occasion," expect many people to take a vacation day (or several) and a few more to come down with a one-day "bug."

Even that can be mitigated.

But in order to mitigate, the event must be anticipated.

That's easily enough accomplished for an historic event such as an inauguration.

It should be as easily accomplished for any other event.

Our business is, after all, to anticipate life's little - and not so little - inconveniences and to find ways to avoid or mitigate them.

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

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

ERM-BC-COOP: Odds and ends

Someone who neither reads nor cares for either the bottom line or people's welfare chopped through a fibre optic cable bundle.

In this state, as in most states in which I've plied my trade, contractors are cautioned again and again to "Call Miss Utility" (or something similar) before digging.

Given a little lead time and someone will come out to the dig site, locate buried cables and pipes, and mark No Dig areas.

If our digger fails to have underground utilities marked and cuts cable or pipe, the digger has to pay for repairs.

Fair enough.

But the digger ought to sued by the people and organizations the action inconvenienced.

When the fibre was cut, my organization and several others had telephone service severely reduced.

Fortunately for us, we still have copper coming into the building, but not at the capacity that fibre provided. Bottom line: users had to fight for a line - with other internal users making outbound calls and with incoming calls.

The "oops" came to my attention when someone tried to send a fax and couldn't grab a line.

(Our telephone people already moved communications from the failed fibre to copper.)

Our business continuity for the telephone system considered the copper back up, but it really depended on backing up telephone service with cell phones.

With the fibre cut, I saw the holes in the plan.

True, I can call out using my cell.

If someone calls me - ahh, there might be a problem, unless the caller is smart enough to know that repeatedly hearing a Ring/No Answer or Busy tone is an indication that the phone system has a problem AND if the caller knows my mobile number.

There is an easy work-around providing its put into place before the fact - Mitigation 101.

Either have the phone company redirect calls to a station (we all have dial-direct station numbers) to another (cell?) number or arrange for a virtual PBX that does the same thing. Instead of someone hearing a busy signal when he or she dials my number - 888-555-1212 - the call is redirected to my cell - 866-999-8888. (That, of course is not my cell number.)

But, you'll recall, we had a fellow who wanted to send a fax.

Turns out that with one of my two mobile units I CAN send - and receive - a fax right from (or to) the computer.

I have to download some software (did that) and buy a USB interface cable that connects between my computer and my Sony-Ericsson z520a handset. Since I have international roaming (via AT&T nee' Cingular) on that unit, I can send and receive faxes no matter where I find myself - all I need is a WiFi location (McDonalds is ubiquitous and often has WiFi available).

Will it work? Will my provider's service accommodate faxes? That I don't know. Is it work spending some money for the connecting cable? Maybe.

Sending a fax is easier than receiving a fax, of course, but both can be accomplished.

The other day I was exchanging emails with a fellow practitioner about a Business Continuity symbol. There is Smokey Bear - please, no middle name - and Sparky, McGruff, Woodsy Owl, and Aunt Jemima, and a host of other characters that are familiar to most of us from our childhood.

They are "household" items due to constant exposure.

Say Smokey Bear to a child in 3rd grade or a college fifth-year senior and both think forest fire prevention.

Aunt Jemima, even more than IHOP, means pancakes or flapjacks or hot cakes - depends on your neck o' the woods.

But what about ERM/BC?

The ostrich is good.

My correspondent put a target on the back of one for his Web site.

I like that; in fact I used an ostrich on one of the articles on my own Web site.

But I also like EC's (now DC's) Alfred E. Newman. EC, by the way, stands for "Educational Comics."

Alfred E.'s "What, me worry?" catch phrase represents all the executives who think their organizations are immune to risks even when risks are rearing their ugly head - hurricanes along the Gulf and Atlantic states, earthquakes and tornados almost every where - and those are just a few of the environmental threats!

Maybe a cartoon of Alfred E. with HIS head in the sand would be appropriate?

No matter that - or who - is selected to represent ERM/BC/COOP to "the world," the representation must be ongoing and frequent. Smokey didn't become the recognized spokes bear he is today overnight.

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

Sunday, January 4, 2009

ERM-BC-COOP: How to "sell" preparedness

There has been an interesting discussion on a couple of Emergency Management lists in (on?) which I participate.

The issue: How to get everyone - organization management, community leadership, and individuals - to sign up and sign on for self preservation.

The problem, according to many List participants, seems to be that all of the above have a "someone will provide" mentality.

"The Government" - pick a level, any level - "will provide."

"The Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) will provide."

"The charities - e.g., Salvation Army - will provide."

Whatever happened, we ask each other singing, as we do, to the chorus, to self-sufficiency? Where is The American Way of being dependent on ourselves rather than on "someone" to provide for our needs?

There's an expression particularly common to Jews: "History forgotten is bound to repeat."

Translation: we need to learn, and keep in mind the lessons learned, from past events.




Fires - structure and forest.




And, yes, even war and financial disasters.

The bottom line question for us - risk management, business continuity, emergency management, and crisis management practitioners, and maybe some others as well - is how do we get, and keep, the attention and support of "the other folks," those that still lack their choir robes?

There was talk of a Smokey (CQ) Bear-type campaign. It has been pretty successful. According to the Smokey (not "the") Bear Wikipedia entry (, "Smokey Bear's message 'Only You Can Prevent Forest Fires' was created in 1944 by the Ad Council. In a recent study, 95% of those surveyed could finish the sentence when given the first words. In April 2001, Smokey's message was updated to 'Only You Can Prevent Wildfires.'"

Novice speakers and instructors are told to "Tell'em what you are going to tell them; tell them, then tell them what you told them." In other words, repeat the message until it gets through.

Granted, unless there is a "variation on the theme," eventually the audience will tune out when the first words appear.

Having seen the impact schools can have on young minds, and knowing the age group that gets introduced to Smokey, my personal suggestion is to start promoting self-sufficiency at a very early age.

We need to do this carefully so that while instilling a self-sufficiency mentality we do not, at the same time, cause simultaneous development of a Me First callousness to the plight of others.

Taking a page from Madison Avenue might be a good idea for those of us who realize people need to take some responsibility for themselves. The "let George do it" mentality - never good - only works when "George" is around and able to perform.

Smokey, the senior spokes-cartoon, has been around since 1944 - the Bear is almost old enough to file for full social security and probably older than most of this blog's readers. Many of you grew up with Smokey or Sparky, Smokey's urban counterpart. Today's kids, unfortunately, also have - and need - an anti-crime mascot, McGruff who "takes a bite out of crime."

Smokey, more than the others, pops up in places you would expect - at the entrances to federal and state parks and forests - and in places you might not expect - on a subway in a major metro area.

He is almost ubiquitous.

That's what we need - a message, or perhaps a messenger associated with a specific message - that "is almost ubiquitous" and one we collectively are introduced to at an early age.

Of the three mascots mentioned above, only one comes from a cartoonist's mind. The others are based on actual animals, particularly Smokey. The suggestion is that whatever image carries our message, it has to be one able to span the generations with minimal change (think of Aunt Jemima who "slimmed down" and, I think, lost a great deal of her appeal). This is not a job for Joe Camel or the Marlboro Man.

The nice thing about animals - at least those that look like "the real thing" (e.g., Smokey and Sparky vs. Joe Camel or the Pink Panther) is that they are based on something we can see, albeit perhaps only in a zoo or picture book, and these animals, unlike people (e.g., Uncle Sam and Aunt Jemima) are free of any racial connection; they are "politically correct." (I have a little black bunny named Franklyn who would volunteer and I'm sure he could "beat the drum" for self-preservation at least as good as that obnoxious battery bunny.)

I've done a bit marketing in my day, but I think selection of a suitable mascot for self-preservation needs to be "discovered" by advertising pros and approved by the experts in kindergarten - these experts are, after all, the ones who will carry the message to their parents and, later as parents themselves, will share it with their children.

EM lists referenced earlier:
International Association of Emergency Managers (IAEM)

Aunt Jemima history at

John Glenn MBCI, SRP
Enterprise Risk Management/Business Continuity practitioner
JohnGlennMBCI @ gmail dot com