PlanB Consulting

The next incident is always the one we haven’t thought of…

“The next incident is always the one we haven’t thought of…’ I use this phrase during all my training and time and time again it proves to be true;  ash cloud, fuel crisis etc. Who would have thought that there would be rioting on the streets of United Kingdom. Dare I say this is the sort of thing we  see on the news which other nations do rather than the ‘civilised’ British……I will not comment on the people who are doing the rioting as if you look at  any twitter feed or comment on the rioters they seem to sum up the public feeling in stronger words than I could use in this bulletin!

Of course there are some business continuity lessons from the recent events. The first is that bad things happen, and it has happened to a number of  businesses including the 144 year old House of Reeves furniture shop in Croydon, Carpetright carpet store and Sony’s distribution warehouse. For these  business and thousands of others, the impact is going to be severe. In business continuity terms  it really doesn’t matter what causes the incident but  rather what is the impact on the business. A flood or a accidental fire can have the same impact so you should be prepared for them. History will show whether many of the businesses affect will recover or whether the owners decided it is not worth starting again just take the insurance money and stick  it in the bank.

I think this new threat of having your building destroyed by rioters setting in on fire or your stock looted, raises the bar again of potential incident  which could threaten all our organisations. We may have covered accidental incidents such as floods or fires but have we looked at the risk of deliberate  damage to our organisation by people who want to destroy it? The mitigation measures presently in place might need to change from dealing with deliberate  rather than accidental incidents.

Do the multitude of small shops and businesses who have been affected by the riots (13,000 according to some websites) have business continuity plans  in place, probably not. In this present economic climate how many of them will not recover and go out of business. I suspect quite a lot of them, if they have been severely damaged. There is some advice on how to develop business continuity plans put out by Local Authorities (who have a  legal requirement to do this) but much of it is generic and not much practical use. Shetland Island Council have a website which give low cost practical  advice aimed at small and medium businesses. You may want to point those who have small business in the direction of the website so they can develop  business continuity and protect their business.

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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