… and how testing, exercising and rehearsing fulfil different purposes.
Hard to claim that we are validating preparations as “Fit for purpose” when we cannot even agree on what to call the activity.
To me Testing, Exercising and Rehearsing are very different activities. You should do them all as part of an effective business continuity programme – but you need to make the drill specific to your need.
Once upon a time I used to coach Basketball, at the National League level. You can be sure we didn’t come out and run drills designed for use in Volleyball or Football. We also didn’t come out and run training at the level of intensity that you see in a social team. Nor did we focus on the sort of drills and teaching points you would expect to see in junior ball.
We didn’t even focus on the same things at different points of the season, pre-season is a totally different focus to mid-season and again to preparation for post-season or finals play.
Success in BC, crisis management or resilience is not that different to an elite sporting team. The team needs to be properly prepared, with appropriate, specific practice sessions.
Testing is like a trial game, they keep the score for a reason. There are winners and losers.
If you cannot fail, it is not a test.[tweetthis hidden_hashtags=”#TestingTimes”]If you cannot fail, it is not a test. @simpsonkd[/tweetthis]
I would not encourage you to spend a lot of time testing your people, certainly not unless they are highly skilled and do this for a living. By all means use win/lose testing with systems and especially IT DR. It either comes up and works, in the required time, or it doesn’t.
If your people are part-time you need to be more teaching and skills development and progressively build the challenge.
Rehearse people in roles, especially if your approach is based on the traditional model of re-organising in a crisis. (People taking on roles and responsibilities that are at odds with their day-to-day jobs.)
The rehearsal is like a theatre production, the actors need to learn their own parts, and how they interact with others. They know how to get things done in the BAU world, they may not be sure who you go to in this respond and recover world.
Exercising is a good label to pull all these things together. You started with some skills development drills to teach the basic fundamentals – that might mean you have put your spokespeople through media training before you ask them to perform that role. After they have the basic skill, you walk them through the interactions.
You build on these base skills by rehearsing your teams in their roles. If you prefer the sporting analogy this is a scrimmage or pick-up game. The coach can stop the action as they need for teaching points. You might call it a Desktop walk through.
Full scale simulation exercises are like a squad game at training, keeping score is optional, but trust me they all want to know how they did at the end. You will probably tell them they did great, just a few things to improve upon for next time!
All of these things need to be integrated into a total development programme. That does mean doing the same thing year on year, it means having a blueprint that shows how you are building layer on layer as you undertake additional training or exercise sessions. It should show progress towards a longer-term goal.
Remember sometimes you are in a “rebuilding season” and you need to backtrack and review some of the basics, or you are building with a new, inexperienced team.
As a coach I didn’t come out with a compliance checklist to count and report on the number of shots taken or the number of errors made. I came with a plan, a game plan, that I hoped the team could execute on – I taught them my system and helped them develop as players within that system. On many occasions we simply tossed the playbook out as it wasn’t working, or revised the plan as a result of practice.
And there were times when I had players with more experience than me, and then you listen and adapt the game plan based on their comment and feedback.
These are all coaching problems, not the players fault.
Take some time this week to think about how you might behave differently if you thought of yourself as the coach of the BC Team, rather than the BC Manager.
Do you think acting like a coach might be better received by the senior players (aka your Executives)? Lead to better engagement going forward?
Comments are open, would love to hear your views.