At the time of writing this article the UK is recovering from reputably the worst storm for 10 years. It was interesting watching events unfold and develop in the lead up to the height of the storm.

The post incident media coverage included praise for the Met office, emergency services, local councils, utility and transport providers in their preparations, planning and responses which undoubtedly minimised the impact.

Key to this was the accuracy of the weather forecasts and the proactive stance taken by a number of agencies to communicate and prepare for the event. How things have moved on in recent years. Trusted and reliable information in an incident is key. Good and timely communication meant that the impending storm was the topic of choice throughout the weekend right down to the supermarket checkout queue!

Forewarned is forearmed.

Wouldn’t it be great if all incidents came with such warning? ‘Your next IT outage is scheduled for Thursday afternoon.’ ‘A fire will cause substantial damage to the building over the weekend.’ ‘Supplier X will be unable to deliver services after the end of this month.’ Gold dust!

The reality is that incidents, as we know, don’t always come with any advanced warning so our starting position is often one of having to establish what has happened and decide the most effective response. Meanwhile the incident is already underway – changing and moving whilst we try and catch up. It can be a challenge.

Now the point is this does not prevent us from being prepared, if anything it actually accentuates the need to be better prepared for (unplanned) incidents so that we quickly grasp control and implement appropriate actions to deal with the situation. Once the incident occurs we haven’t got time to start teaching people what to do, we need them to perform. Imagine Vettel enduring a 30 second pit stop – ‘sorry he’s a bit slow mate, it’s his first time!’ – it’s just not going to go down very well is it?

This is why we practice, why we train and why we rehearse with our teams. The practice scenarios may not always be the one we face in real life but they will assist us in familiarising our people with the process and the kinds of issues they will face. As a result they will be better prepared and therefore more effective.

There are some things you can do to try and secure advanced warning of events. Weather forecasts are the most obvious but regular news items also offer insight to upcoming events that may impact our organisations. There’s a variety of established sources we can use for monitoring all manner of risks. Internally we usually have plenty of information about what is happening to our organisations but we need to look for the changes, trends and indicators that tell us when something isn’t going as it should.

In summary, if we are given advanced warning of an incident it’s a real advantage. Because we won’t always get such a warning we have to be vigilant in spotting potential incidents as early as possible and finally we have to be ready at all times for the times when there simply isn’t any warning.

If you need help or guidance on this topic I’m happy to help you.

October 28, 2013 at 5:07 pm
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Category: Crisis Management, Planning, Training & Exercising
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