One of the predictable things about the BC industry is that periodically there is a bout of introspection – we are in a bad spot, how do we change to move forward?
The predictable outcome is that little actually changes other than the name – Disaster Recovery, Business Continuity Management, BCMS, Resilience, Business Resilience. The most recent one I heard in this line is “Digital Resilience”. That one is a real winner in its attempt to merge two “hot” concepts into a new promotable product.
The latest published introspection is from Charlie Maclean Bristol “Revamping the Business Continuity profession“. That paper includes discussion of emerging ideas like “Adaptive BC” and a number of other suggestion to shape future practice. Although at times they read like “Back to the Future” prescriptions.
In the interest of promoting a more focussed conversation I was motivated to write a longer form response than the very simplistic levels of debate that generally occur today thanks to these debates being relegated to social media platforms. That is if in fact you can actually find any debate on these subjects at all.
The problem is that nothing significant happens with, or without, the debate.
There is no revolution in our practices, unless we change our minds and our behaviours. We each need to make that change within our own thinking and behaviour – nobody else can do it for you.
The first revolution is when you change your mind about how you look at things, and see there might be another way to look at it that you have not been shown.
What you see later on is the results of that, but that revolution, that change that takes place will not be televised. (Gil Scott Heron – “The Revolution will not be Televised”)
A Fork in the Road?
I even made a contribution to the introspection debate myself back in 2012. It was called “A Fork in the Road” and was awarded BC Paper of the Year in 20103.
That paper started with me telling the story of my serious bout of personal introspection, when I thought what passed for my BC practice at the time had lost it’s “mojo”. Which is perhaps another way of saying I really wasn’t seeing the value in what we did and felt the need to move in a different direction. That was back in 1991 and I have seen a lot of trends come and go since then.
One of the ideas I discussed in that paper is the difference between “Single Loop Learning” and “Double Loop Learning”. Essentially this refers to how we frame the problem – in this case what future practice might look like.
Do we just look for a simple fix – different techniques and strategies to achieve the same goals. The more challenging “double loop” is when we also reflect on and critically challenge the underlying norms and objectives.
In other words we first frame the problem in a different manner and then look at how we might solve that problem.
Before jumping into Charlie’s latest article on the subject lets explore some of the past articles on this subject. There are at least 7 that I can immediately think of, spanning 10 or more years – let me know of others I have missed as this series of posts unfolds.
There are a number of common themes that emerge from these articles. A strong sense of frustration in many, a desire to increase the status and profile of the discipline and its practitioners emerges from others. Often the conflict between wanting legacy practice to be accepted and valued by Executives and those who reframe the practice into addressing a wider range of risks.
Unfortunately all of these are the work of individual practitioners. There has been no serious reframing of the problem by the organisations that profit by promoting and selling training and certification against the existing, legacy practices.
Brings to mind that old saying;
Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it
But in order to learn from history we need to read it. This post is the first in a series that will lay out some of this history for you – point you at the original articles if you want to read them and offer some analysis and thoughts if you don’t want to read them for yourself.
How about watching a video rather than reading?
One of the issues that keeps coming up in this history is the role of the concept of resilience. Is that a new name for (or indeed the saviour of) Business Continuity?
Here is a video from 2012, a recording of Charley Newnham’s presentation to BCI World in London entitled “Resilience isn’t the future of Business Continuity”.