Sunday, March 2, 2014

For what does a planner plan?

Risk vs. Impact


The Risk

Hundreds of thousands of religious extremists are set to march on Jerusalem. Whether or not "hundreds of thousands" will descend on the Israeli capital is to be seen. My guess is that the turnout will be less than expected, but still there will be a sea of black hats.

In preparation for this event, Israel has ordered streets closed, trains to stop running, and buses to stay at the bus station.

The Impact

Whether or not the risk of the mass demonstration occurs - in any volume - the risk already is impacting the capital.

The impact is that people won't be able to

*    Go to work

*    Go to school

*    Go shopping for essentials (bread, milk, etc.)

*    Get to a hospital or clinic if necessary

Essentially they are trapped in their neighborhoods, if not their homes.

My Question

So how is this different that the impact of a

*    Snow storm

*    General strike

*    Flood

Or any other event that closes the roads?

Not only in Israel

Israel is not the only country to see "million man" marches.

Ask the folks in Washington D.C.

Israel is not the only country to see transportation disrupted.

Ask the folks who were stranded by a volcano's ash.

Two-part planning

Risk management is basically a two-part process.

Part One: Identify the threats and ways to avoid or mitigate them.

Part Two: Identify ways to respond to the threats when, despite our best efforts, they occur.

In Jerusalem's case, the threat - not hundreds of thousands descending on the capital, but the State's accommodation of these people - is the same as if the city had been snowed in. It's the same as if sections of the city were blocked off for a parade or a fire or any number of other "it can happen anywhere" scenarios.

In Israel, most people work on Sunday. Government offices and schools are open. Banks are open. Mail is delivered. Sunday is Israel's Monday.

In Jerusalem - and it could be New York, London, Madrid, Tokyo, any large city even if it is not a nation's capital - business is disrupted.

The Question

As a planner, should you plan

   a: For the specific risk

  b: For the impact

From my perspective, planning for the SPECIFIC risk is a waste of energy.

Rather than planning for "a million man march on the capital," plan for a disruption of movement. The bottom line is it really doesn't matter WHAT caused the disruption, there is a disruption.

Granted, considering the sundry causes of the disruption is useful in considering means to avoid or mitigate the risk; e.g., having snow removal equipment on hand or having additional buses to accommodate rail passengers and having alternate routes for those buses, and planning corridors for emergency services.

Plan for the impact. Find the work arounds, and not just for the business interruption's anticipated duration but beyond that.

In the case of the march on Israel's capital, expect some debris; anticipate some police follow-up (in the event someone takes criminal advantage of the situation)

Again, Jerusalem is only the "example du jour." The venue could be anywhere -including where you live and work.

Bottom Line

Consider the risks and the ways to avoid or mitigate them.

Plan for the impact and how people - businesses and individuals - can survive it.

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