Incredible as it may seem to your average, dyed-in-the wool business continuity professional, the fact is that the majority of 'normal' business people don't find the subject of business continuity management particularly enthralling.
Why is this? There are, after all, some elements of the business continuity process that are, at the very least, vaguely interesting and, in some cases, actually quite challenging or thought-provoking.
One reason may be the way that it's usually packaged. How often do we see the person leading the process begin by a) spouting doom and gloom about all the terrible things that might befall our organisation and b) spending hours describing the business continuity lifecycle? You know the one. It usually comes with a diagram comprising a circle surrounded by words like analysis, strategy, plans, testing, maintenance and so forth. And many a seasoned business continuity professional has been known to rattle on about this process for hours on end.
Then there's the business impact analysis, usually the first activity, other than sitting through the aforementioned presentation, that the business people are asked to participate in. Unfortunately, most business impact analyses are about as exciting as watching paint dry. And when you consider that most people have an awful lot of other things vying for their time and attention, is it really any wonder that they don't fully engage with a programme that starts like this?
But it doesn't have to be like that. Whilst the various elements of the business continuity lifecycle have to be addressed in some form if the resulting capability is going to be worth anything, they don't have to be approached in a way that makes people switch off from the outset.
There are a number of things that can be done to make the business continuity programme more interesting and engaging. Examples include :
- Starting with an exercise rather than a business impact analysis. And maybe using a format for the exercise that's entertaining or light-hearted, rather than doom-laden and pressurised. It might, for instance, include an element of competition, or the event might be structured like a game or a quiz show, rather than yet another meeting or navel-gazing session.
- Using such games and competitions throughout the programme to stimulate discussions about important issues. You might, for instance, pit teams against each other and award points or prizes for the winners or those who correctly identify whatever it is that you want them to.
- Engaging with the creative people in your marketing team to come up with some interesting, thought-provoking awareness materials or to create a 'brand' for the programme.
There's no law that says business continuity management has to be dull - it just happens that way in many organizations. Whilst the above suggestions won't necessarily result in a laugh-a-minute romp that people shun their other day-to-day activities to participate in (and, let's face it, what other business activities are like that?), it might make them more inclined to get involved.
So why not give it a go in your organization? All it requires is a bit of creativity. And, yes, there may be a bit more effort involved in the planning and preparation, but if you can engage people that effort will be repaid many times over in results compared with the more typical, same-old-same-old, dull-as-dishwater business continuity approach.