--> Gill Blog: Addressing Risk on the Eve of the Election

Gill Blog

Monday, November 01, 2004

Addressing Risk on the Eve of the Election

As Americans go to the polls to elect a President, many wonder about the impact of Osama bin Laden's videotaped message that was released on Al Jazeera last Friday. Both parties seemed to successfully juggle this potentially explosive hot potato right out of voters minds, but today, we see the following headline splashed everywhere in the media and are reminded of the time we live in.

This piece underscored what a new generation of business continuity planners have been stressing for some time: we live in a time of heightened risk, and it is important that organizations take whatever measures they can to reduce that risk. Because bin Laden has become so closely associated with overt acts of terror that threaten lives and property, we often overlook the specific goal of contemporary terrorism: to attack the financial structure that underlies our economic system. This is a theme we have touched on all too many times on this site, whether it is expanded on in our whitepapers (see the decentralization series on our research page), addressed by suggesting ways in which real estate strategy can be used as a strong risk management tool, or discussed in the many pieces we have written about the vulnerability of the insurance industry. Despite all our postulating, I was taken aback when I saw the headline this evening.

But it also reminded me of the need for all of us to take one step beyond the conventional methods of risk management we often exercise (which sometimes seem to be nothing more than a contemporary application of an air raid siren from the Cold War). We need to be smart, we need to be systematic, and we need to meaningfully identify the vulnerabilities that exist in our organizational structures, and address them immediately. To do this properly, we have to look beyond systems backup, beyond evacuation drills and toward areas including the way we distribute human resources, the way we occupy facilities, plan real estate strategy and maximize our use of technology. Planning of this kind cannot take place in isolation but must be part of a concerted effort. For many organizations, this requires a very large leap of faith, but one that's certainly worth taking.

Business continuity planning simply has to move forward in these uncertain times. All organizations, regardless of size should put the wheels in motion to put a plan into place. If it can't be done internally, there are many who can help. Our company certainly possesses the capacity to lend some insight and evaluate where the vulnerabilities may exist, but if it's not us, there are other consulting firms that do a great job. We've worked too hard creating such a bold economic structure, and it must be preserved. It's just that important.


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