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 @

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