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Gill Blog

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Doughnuts and BCP Conferences

What a perfect day to get back to the business of blogging. It's a crisp -15 Celsius outside and with the wind, it feels like -30. Under these circumstances, you never know what can happen. I have been on somewhat of a self-imposed exile over the past year, but have spent the time getting only deeper into this field we call business continuity planning. Frankly, I'm amazed at how many of the ideas we pioneered within this field (e.g. blogging, webcasts before ubiquitous broadband connections) have become mainstream for so many organizations out to make the mighty buck.

Something seems to be missing in the dialogue. As much as BCP-types are using technology to get the message out, the actual message that is going out is about as fresh as cheap cigar. Time and time again, all we get is the same rhetoric with familiar refrains such as "Are we Prepared?" "What is the new normal" or value-pitch promotionals that inevitably begin with "9-11, Katrina, Blackouts, SARS - this could happen to you." Please, give me a break. If you think I'm the only one singing from the pulpit, believe me, there are others.

I was asked in a meeting yesterday by the head of a BCP committee who is eager to assume a key leadership position within risk the best strategy by which she can ramp up her knowledge. I tossed out a few suggestions, but she seemed really excited by the idea of conferences. My opinion? I think the premise of conferences is good, but year after year when you attend those conferences, you start to realize the speakers are recycling the same song and dance. Every once in a while, you'll find someone who has extrapolated earlier learnings into something great, but in general it all tends to be the same old stuff. I liken the conference circuit to the old economics analogy of the law of diminishing returns best illustrated by a box of a dozen doughnuts. The first doughnut you eat is heavenly; the second still pretty good; by the time you start nibbling on the third, you're already getting tired of it; by the time you get to the sixth, all the warm and fuzzy stuff you may have been feeling is out the window. Now, simply make a quick substitute: swap doughnuts for BCP conferences, and you start to get the picture.

In order for the dialogue to meaningfully advance, planners everywhere have to take stock in exactly how this field is evolving. The key is moving this field from one that is grounded in a compliance-based orientation into one that is much more strategic. When time permits, I will periodically fire up the old blog and share what I can in my attempt to help move things along.


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