PlanB Consulting

Failure to plan is planning to fail

Those of you who have been watching the Olympics for the last couple of weeks cannot fail to have noticed the immerse amount and planning that must have gone on to make the games such a success. The doom-mongers prophesied terrorist attacks, transport chaos and a heroic British muddle through. Instead there was very little transport failure, noterrorist attacks and the game worldwide has been heralded a great success.

The success of the games I believe has been down to detailed planning and good organisation. Where there contingency plans which needed to be implemented, such as the failure of G4S to provide enough security the army were on standby and got called in. Other events such as the flooding (by sewage) of one of the main CCTV monitoring stations was not well reported as they invoked their business continuity plan, worked from a fallback location and once the clean up was done then they quickly moved back.

The planning of the event created the right atmosphere; as people had confidence in the event, I believe, that the crowd threw themselves enthusiastically into supporting the athletes who then went on to give their best performance and win medals. This provided a virtuous circle the more support the crowd gave to the athletes, the more they won. I feel that good organisation by the organisers’ allowed this to happen.

Coming back to my initial quote which according to Wikianswers was by  Winston Churchill who said “He who fails to plan is planning to fail” during World War II.  In business continuity terms if we have good planning for an incident and the plan is executed well from the beginning we can promote the Olympic virtuous circle of success leading to further success. If the start of the indent goes badly, we don’t recognise the incident early enough, the press have begum to criticize us and our reputation is beginning to suffer then it will be difficult to raise the moral of our staff and out stakeholders and the incident response is likely to be deemed a failure.

The Olympics has shown us by detailed and meticulous planning and then by lots of rehearsing, those taking part in the opening ceremony where rehearsing for over 150 – 200 hours (5- 6 working weeks), that this planning pays off and the event can be a great success. In the same way in business continuity the more we plan and rehearse the more likely our response to an incident will be deemed a success as well.

About Charlie Maclean-Bristol

Charlie Maclean-Bristol is one of the Founders and Directors of PlanB Consulting. He is also the Training Director of Business Continuity Training Ltd., a UK-based training provider accredited by the Business Continuity Institute. Charlie is a former Business Continuity Institute board member and one of the very few Fellows of both the Emergency Planning Society and the Business Continuity Institute.

A former Infantry Captain in the British Army, Charlie held several emergency planning, business continuity and crisis management positions within the energy and utility industry before founding PlanB Consulting in 2007. Over the past twelve years, Charlie has delivered business continuity consultancy in 6 of the worlds 7 continents, frequently providing full business continuity roll-outs to organisations of all sizes and in all sectors.

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