Last week I had a brief, but busy, trip to New Zealand. I don’t spend as much time there as I used to, so it is always good to get back and work with old friends – and also to visit some favourite eating and drinking establishments!
It occurred to me that this philosophy also demonstrated some of the key attributes needed to build resilience – friends, community, trust, catching up and understanding each other, and above all taking some enjoyment from the activity.
The purpose of the trip was to conduct an Executive crisis simulation. You cannot do this kind of activity justice with only a few days of preparation, the heavy work of research and prep had been done a on a previous, and longer, visit.
This was a fairly unique exercise in that we were effectively addressing continuity of an economic eco-system, or community, rather than simply just a single business. There were significant interdependencies between the client and a range of their primary and secondary clients. It was great to see the strong sense of common purpose, mutual support and sharing of ideas from the leaders of the various companies engaged in this exercise.
One of the first challenges, both to staging the exercise and to successful management of a disruption, was that each entity has implemented traditional (and different) models of crisis command and control. Which makes for a rather complex model of communication interactions.
Not only does the number of nodes in this model make the information flows complicated, but when you allow for the velocity of information flows being different between the entities that use manual tracking and those with automated incident management then you introduce a whole new dimension. Very interesting learning about the need for an economic community to share some common elements for managing the disruption.
More on this issue of information flow and interdependent crisis management in a subsequent post.
Understanding each others response and management process is important, as is building the trust that comes from knowing what each entity is trying to achieve and how they might react. Reading each others plans is unlikely to provide this trust, it grows from responding under pressure and testing each other in a safe and controlled environment.
Another significant aspect of this work is watching people grow in their capability to respond as a result of the activity. This was not the first exercise for these teams, nor I suspect will it be the last. This is an activity that demands continuous improvement – we should never become complacent about our capability to respond to significant disruptions.
You know an entity is on the right track for this when you see the most senior Executives actively engaged in the exercise and freely participating in the debrief – readily sharing ideas, observations and strategies to improve recovery between the different entities in this value chain. For participants and Exercise facilitators alike, hearing senior staff reporting that this was a valuable use of their time, and offering suggestion for what the next exercise should address, is very rewarding.
Just another day at the office, and you go home knowing that your effort is appreciated and organisations are stronger and more resilient as a result.
For many years I just assumed it was this way for all BC practitioners.
These days I realise it is not, but I wouldn’t trade places.
How does an Exercise feel in your world?
Do your Executives actively participate in simulation exercise? Or do you just do plan walkthroughs?