Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Preparing for the Unexpected: A Deep Dive in Disaster Management

After three days immersed in the views of disaster management specialists, I’m ready to cocoon. They’ve got me convinced we should prepare better for the unexpected. But, what a lot of work! Business impact analysis (BIA) and all that flows from it is no easy task.

It’s an important part of leading and leadership---to anticipate and be ready to adapt to a crisis. How many leaders of organizations large and small pay enough attention to this? Not many is my guess.

The 17th World Conference on Disaster Management at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre reinforced what the military routinely does: train for the expected and unexpected. The latter is the most difficult. The leadership landscape, military included, is littered with “disasters”---the 2003 blackout, Katrina, SARS, Iraq, the RCMP plus multitudes of train and plane accidents, floods, etc.

The real message is that many disasters, both large and small, can be prevented with smarter and more diligent thinking and action. Richard van Pelt from Pasadena City College made that point over and over again. His visual depiction of one disaster after another around the world that should not have happened underlined that disaster management is a daily requirement.

That means creating an organization of leaders in which openness, transparency, wide sharing of information, creative thinking, and evidenced-based and ethical management abound. When done well, business impact analysis will be built into the “DNA” of the culture.

Check out and for more on this topic of preparedness.

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