The World Cup has now started and everyone watching knows that each match lasts for 90 minutes. But don’t forget the matches that really matter – those where a result must be achieved – can go to 120 minutes if extra time is required.

The competition is taking place in Brazil so many teams are playing in conditions they are not familiar with – get your excuses in early guys – so they are acclimatising to heat and humidity that is very different to their normal playing conditions.

So what do you do if you are the coach? Do you train and prepare your players to be ready for 90 minutes or do you go further and train them for 120, just in case? The extra training could tire the players unnecessarily but if you don’t do it they may be found wanting if the extra 30 minutes is required – the very bit that determines the overall outcome.

Who’d be a football coach?

If only life was as simple in Business Continuity Land? If we knew the maximum defined duration of the incidents and crises we manage it would be so much easier to train our teams and indeed get buy in to exercises. Unfortunately that is not the case and whilst our teams have unlimited substitutions it doesn’t hide the fact that training or exercising for long protracted incidents is hard to replicate.

The common challenge is getting time in the participants’ calendars at all and when we do we are often swamped with requests from PA’s to release their masters as they ‘have to attend an important meeting or event elsewhere’. This basically translates to ‘that’s all the time they are willing to assign to your topic’. And all this during normal working hours, so it’s not as if we are asking them to give up their own time. Two hours isn’t an uncommon timeframe to have to work within.

Does this mean we cannot prepare our teams for the real event?

Does this mean that they will never be ready to go the distance if required?

Is the conventional training and exercising approach flawed?

I guess the counter argument is that crisis management isn’t about endurance and stamina, rather more about skills, judgement and process so challenges will come in the form of ‘what’s the value add of making this a long winded event?’

One of the risks is that it’s easy to fall into the trap of only exercising the beginning of the process rather than end to end. By definition we may therefore find the actions relating to closedown of a crisis are rarely exercised.

I’ve seen a couple of approaches used to try and overcome the challenges outlined above. One way is to organise an off-site event with a programme of supporting activities that complement or support the exercise – this way you have a captive audience once you’ve got them there.

Another approach is to run the exercise over an extended period, say 24 hours, but allow the team members to participate from the normal work locations i.e. fit their exercise involvement and contribution into their working day. It’s definitely realistic but requires the exercise content, structure and delivery to be well thought through.

As the World Cup progresses we will see which teams are best prepared. Who is going to be the ‘last man standing’? Will it be your team?

June 15, 2014 at 2:33 pm
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Category: Crisis Management, Training & Exercising
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