I was in London last week and a couple of things continue to amaze me about the rush hour traffic.

Firstly the sheer number of lanes we manage to cram into our streets. In places we somehow have six lanes of traffic all vying for position, with no margin for error, cyclists in the mix too and with a high percentage of drivers on their phones whilst they compete for territory. It’s a miracle there are not more accidents.

Secondly the impact a single vehicle can have on the system. Everything seems to work just fine until some idiot parks their car along one of these routes or a vehicle breaks down. The flow is disrupted, progress halted and the impact is quickly compounded as back logs build up, junctions get blocked, tempers start to flair and an evening of carnage ensues that will be relived for the benefit of spouses and partners who wish they could have eaten their evening meal when it was first ready an hour ago.

As I jogged on by the stationary lines of traffic, horns beeping, drivers gesturing at each other and cyclists taking to the pavements it got me thinking.

‘Van breaks down on Cromwell Road’ isn’t going to be a newspaper headline but the impact of such an event was not the van itself but the mayhem that ensued.

Think about your organisation for a minute. A simple issue at the wrong time or in the wrong place could be catastrophic. This is why we need to plan around impacts. If the van driver had looked over his shoulder to see what was going on he may have been more inclined to get some help to push the thing out of the way.

Unfortunately for the van driver his vehicle let him down in the rush hour, two hours earlier and no one would have been bothered. There’s a big point here about different times mean different impacts.

So the trick is to recognise the cause but also to understand the potential impact.

All too often it is the small issues which catch us out. We need to remain alert and vigilant because although the incident didn’t cause a problem last time it doesn’t mean to say it won’t this time.

Think about the regular activities that go on in your organisation, pay day and financial month end are too oft cited examples. An incident the day after everyone has been paid or the figures have been reconciled will pass off relatively painlessly but if it occurs the day before cut off your HR and Finance Directors will be going crazy as their worlds crash around them.

This is why your Business Impact Analysis needs to recognise, or at least be flexible enough that it can be adapted for incidents at different times. The simplest way of doing this is to record any known ‘hotspots’ within the analysis so that your Business Continuity arrangements can be adapted at the time if they need to be.

As always if you need any help with this concept just contact me.