There is a discussion on the ‘BCM & Risk’ LinkedIn Group (sorry, but this is a members only forum – free to join), where the original question posed was;
“Do you have a plan or are you being prepared? do you reckon these are two side of the coin or same but different words or what?”
Frankly, I found the discussion uninteresting, the usual type of contributions, often contradictory – plans are the most essential thing, plans are nothing – planning is everything, testing plans implies preparedness … not sure that any of it really tried to get to the heart of the original question.
To some extent this is the kind of ‘uninformed’ discussion that annoys me. Even more so when the original question was posed by a Post-grad student. More so when it is an important question, and central to understanding why resilience and BCM are not the same thing.
What made it interesting for me was an (incendiary) comment from Barry Archer which really set the ‘cat amongst the pidgeons’. Archer observed that he was doing some reviews of the disasters in Asia in 2011 (Australian floods, NZ earthquakes, Thailand floods, Japan Tsunami, etc) – in this research Archer discovered that many entities had not used their BC plans.
That comes as no surprise to me, and I have contacted him to find out more about the reasons. My first guess is that they are fantasy plans – either the strategies were wrong, there was no capability behind them, or the strategies they espoused were devised by the BC Planner rather than being the strategies that the top Execs would use.
I have seen numerous examples of all 3 cases, they are all rather common.
At the time of writing there are 44 comments on this discussion, a number being indignant responses to Archer. While the tone of his post was rather confrontational, the responses are generally very defensive, and the inevitable blame the Exec because they did not buy into our plans and process.
First point to differentiate BCM and resilience. BCM normally gets done by non-Exec as it is often just done at an Operational level, and for compliance and governance purposes. Resilience starts with Executives and must be driven strategically.
Being prepared means that you can execute on any plans you have in place, and you can cope if it emerges that your plans do not adequately address the incident – or they are fantasy.
In most of the literature on resilience this later response would normally be termed Adaptive Capacity.
Adaptive Capacity is critical to an organisation being resilient. It is the development of this capability that is probably the great differentiator between what BCM has become and what resilience is.
You cannot develop this Adaptive Capacity via standards, procedures and ‘Best Practice’ guides.
I don’t think that planning and adapting are two sides of the same coin. We need to invest in both, to various degrees.
They are both critical ‘dimensions’ of resilience. More on this aspect tomorrow.
In the interim, for those who are interested in being informed, this question of Planning vs Adapting was explored by Amy Lee in her PhD research in Organisational Resilience. Amy (Stephenson these days) has a blog – read about discovering your resilience weaknesses.