I was delighted to hear this week that the longstanding adage about two guys coming face to face with a lion in the jungle is still being used in management training. It’s stood the test of time very well and for many roles is absolutely relevant and appropriate.

What? You don’t know the story? OK, briefly, on seeing the lion one guy reaches for a pair of trainers in his rucksack. The other guys says, ‘you won’t outrun the lion’, to which the first guy says, ‘I know, but I only need to outrun you!’ The message being that to survive you have to be better than the competition.

For sure, many if not most, roles can adopt this mantra and use it to make sure the organisation focuses on outperforming rivals and competitors. Roles such as those in Sales are well used to measuring and comparing based on metrics such as revenue and volume – the figures tell the story so comparisons are easy.

But then I got to thinking about our roles in Business Continuity.

When Business Continuity incidents occur the focus is not on whether the organisation did better than the competition, it’s whether the organisation recovered and survived effectively. There may not even be any peer-to-peer comparisons available. So what should we do if we meet a lion? Does this mean that a Business Continuity manager might have to fight the lion instead of worrying about the competition?

A decision is required on what sort of Business Continuity manager you need to be? Do you have to prepare yourself to be able to fight the lion when you meet it or rather do you have to be a lion tamer and spend time and effort in getting to know the lion, build it’s trust and be able to control it when required? Animal welfare groups should note that I’m talking metaphorically here and would never harm a lion – just for the record!

Fighting the lion implies going into battle with the beast and hoping you win, to me this seems a high risk approach. Taming the lion requires time, effort and practice but hopefully a more predictable outcome.

It’s all about how you want to manage the risk. Some of us will be lucky enough to never meet a lion, some of us will accept that we could have to fight a lion and some of us will prepare and practice so that we know how to deal with a lion. The one option you will not have is to run from the lion.

So the call to action here is to think about the incidents your organisation could face and decide how you want to prepare for dealing with them. Are you fighter, a tamer or a runner? Your very survival could be at stake and it won’t be enough to claim you did better than your competitors would have done.