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Survival of the Readiest

    The rise of business continuity planning in turbulent times. January 20 2012, by Abed Shaheen, Managing Director at InfoFort, Dubai, UAE.    
         
   
 

One great aspect of being human is that we are emotional. We love, hate, smile, cry, and lately we tweet, like and unlike. We also believe in imaginary forces, magic, signs and sometimes fairytales.
When good things happen to us we usually attribute them to luck, prayers, beliefs, karma or positive thinking or the power of attraction. And when bad things happen, what do we do? Well, we also attribute them to luck (lack of), prayers (not sincere), also beliefs, karma (bad), thinking positive (not) or the power of attraction (not enough).

   
         
   

We like to believe that great things happen mystically and miraculously and it makes us feel better when we blame unpleasant events on others or other factors.

What we don't savor however is taking the responsibility, working hard, and even worse planning ahead. We want to be spontaneous and reactive but unfortunately this rarely works and it yields disaster results when we apply it to organizations which after all are mostly made of humans.

I do not mean to understate the value of being spontaneous, positive thinking, or the merit of random events like someone winning the lottery, or of hope. In fact, if hope was not there we should have invented it. These are all great and much needed but they are simply not enough. In a dynamic and turbulent social, political and economic environment like the one we live in today, we need to have the capability, stamina and capacity to think and plan. We need plans A, B and C. We need to engage in strategic planning, scenario building and risk assessment. We need to be good chess players.

Last week, I went with my brother to one of the malls in Dubai to buy a printer. Everything was going well until we asked about the cartridges which were available in every color except black. I thought it was because black was the fastest consumable one and that they temporarily ran out of stock, but that wasn't the case. The sales person told us "we are not getting shipments due to the floods in Thailand". The manufacturer, the distributor and the retailer all lost a sale because we couldn't buy black cartridges knowing that cartridges are what makes all of them money. So much for planning for a global brand that prides itself in efficient (but resilient) supply chains.

 
     
  Key Points  
     
  It is one thing to hope, stay happy, and engage in positive thinking and another to expect these alone to work things out.  
     
  InfoFort for will soon become the first company in its industry in the region to have a comprehensive plan that will ensure business continuity and recovery in case of a crisis.  
     
  In a dynamic & turbulent social, political & economic environment like the one we live in today, we need to have the capability, stamina and capacity to think and plan. We need plans A, B and C.  
     
   
         
   

Hence it is no surprise that business continuity planning has become a major topic today's executive agendas. It simply reflects the surrounding environment and the true need for resilience through better corporate governance and planning. It is the need to survive when being ready and having planned for in advance that matter the most.

   
   

InfoFort, for example, will soon become the first company in its industry in the region to have a comprehensive plan that will ensure business continuity and recovery in case of a crisis. We have been working with a leading consultancy firm (Deloitte) to ensure we implement the best and most suitable plan that safeguards our employees, clients' best interest and our brand with clear tested scenarios that guarantee recovery and continuity of services.

 
   
   

Executives and organizations should seriously start thinking about their organizational risks, both digital or physical, effectively by implementing measures at strategic, tactical and operational levels to ensure continuity of services in the event of an unforeseen natural or man-made disaster. It is one thing to hope, stay happy, and engage in positive thinking and another to expect these alone to work things out and then fire fight when they don't.

Long time ago my father used to tell me, repeatedly, a joke or what I thought was a joke until recently, about a guy who kept praying he would win the lottery until an angel visited him one night and reminded him to first buy one. An Aunt of mine however, now in her late seventies, still buys weekly lottery tickets for the last 40 years or more, hoping she would win the grand prize and live happily ever after.

Abed Shaheen, Managing Director of InfoFort, the leading records and information management solution provider in the Middle East and Africa, can be reached at abed.shaheen@infofort.com; Twitter: @abedshaheen