Monday, July 14, 2014


Same ol' song
One more time


At one point in my life I claimed to be a risk management practitioner, a/k/a business continuity planner.

I was certified, first by the no-longer-extant Harris Institute, and then by the Business Continuity Institute (BCI). I even provided Jon Seals with filler copy for the Disaster Recovery Journal.

I also participated on a number of professional boards, exchanging thoughts with others in the trade, from tyros to experts.

I thought I was pretty good at my job. Several of my peers told me they agreed with my self-assessment and surely they wouldn't lie.

But all the time one thing - OK, several things, but this one in particular - bothered me: people sans experience with management positions.

I recently saw an "How do I do" something appeal from a director of business continuity.

This person, as with many others, has the title but neither experience or classroom knowledge (the latter a very poor substitute for experience).

The question was about a fairly common situation that organizations with an international operation face on a regular basis: How to protect personnel traveling abroad and, by extension, how to protect the folks at home from whatever unwanted "gifts" the travelers bring back from "wherever."

The person who raised the issue used The "P" Word, "pandemic."

The "P" word was the first clue that the person posing the question was not a professional risk management practitioner or even a business continuity planner. (The difference between the two is area of responsibility or scope of the position.)

First of all, being concerned with a pandemic shows too narrow a focus. This is the type planning director who would develop a separate and unique "pandemic plan" rather than incorporate the threat, its mitigation options, and the responses appropriate for each threat condition into the overall plan.

If the planner has a big budget and wants to use as much of it as possible, multiple, threat-specific plans are the way to go. Not as effective or flexible as an overall plan, but time and fund consuming - and it looks good to Very Senior Management - "Yes, boss, we have a plan for this and a plan for that, and even a plan in the event of."

I gave the poster a fairly detailed outline to things to do - and action plan if you will - without even looking at the poster's "director" title.

Would I still have offered my free advice?

Maybe not. After all, it seems to this scrivener that a director ought to know most of the information I provided.

One question I have from this (and similar) experiences: Is this the Peter Principle or the Dilbert Principle in action?

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