2021 reflections at the close of the year
For Business Continuity Management, here’s what to expect next year in 2022. Does anyone else feel like 2021 flew? Not only did we have an ongoing COVID-19 response, but like me, you may have responded to manmade and natural disasters across the globe. This year stretched the boundaries for business continuity and crisis management, where multiple contiguous events redefine the meaning of resilience.
By this, I mean that practitioners need to bounce back quickly and manage multiple events concurrently. If you follow my blog posts, it is a theme I raised several times, including in What To Expect After COVID Ends. December is always a good time to reflect and conduct strategic planning for the year ahead. So, I am focusing on the short-term and why 2022 will be a transition year for business continuity management.
2022 will be a transformative year
Like many of you, I am thinking about why business continuity is essential to our organizations. I also co-founded the Resilience Think Tank with colleagues to address business continuity value and support our industry. As tired as we are, the year ahead demands that we provide leadership in organizational transformation. In short, it’s shaping up to be another busy time ahead.
Not only will we transition from the pandemic to endemic phase of COVID, but we need to adjust our programs to the new reality. Simply put, we cannot continue to conduct our programs in the same way we did pre-pandemic and remain relevant. The business needs organizational resilience, and business continuity is a crucial component to drive success. For me, it is imperative to recharge over the holidays and then dive right back into the change process. BCM programs that do not do this will be left behind or lose their importance, as we already saw in the COVID fallout of 2020.
Change management for agile transformation
I’m an admitted program geek. I enjoy tinkering and always strive to make things better. For me, a program that stays stagnant is not keeping pace with today’s business. The way we did things back in the 1980s is old-fashioned, and the past should not propel the future. I don’t want to give the impression that we should sweep away everything successful about business continuity’s foundations. However, I believe resilience is the wave of the future.
The main detriment to the existing structure is its analysis pillars for the workplace, staffing, vendor, and technology loss. In many organizations, businesses continuity is synonymous with the loss of an office location. Frameworks like ISO22301 are helpful but continue to box BCMS into a narrow frame that limits its effectiveness. Instead, we need to expand the governance structure to incorporate resilience as a foundational element that supports agility, flexibility, and maturation. Risks like power and network outages are an increasing danger to operational continuity with employees populations working remotely.
Today, leadership is asking crisis management to respond to requests like COVID vaccination mandates in states with tight turn-around times, not a focus area we might have engaged in previously. However, we need to be nimble and recalibrate our functionality for applicability. In essence, not engaging the business to respond would precipitate a crisis. Here, we leverage response techniques to mobilize the business quickly and effectively. The organization reacts in its own best interest to protect its employees and assets from interruptions. To me, it’s a live example of operational resilience and showcases adaptability at its best.
No more black swan events
Black swans are a thing of the past. I often heard this term used to describe events we cannot predict and no pre-existing precedent. In my work, I divide events between pre-planned and unplanned. Separating incidents this way means some immediate forewarning, like a hurricane or a terrorist event, which we do not usually anticipate. Even that is a misnomer because we can typically conduct some level of preparedness for any event that could impact our organizations.
Admittedly, the scale and scope of events often unfold as impacts are understood. However, risk mapping and monitoring increase our ability to understand crisis effects. Like Nassim Nicholas Taleb, I agree that The Pandemic Isn’t a Black Swan but a Portent of a More Fragile Global System. Although I can’t entirely agree with his solutions, I agree that humans are often more concerned with the micro than aware of macro patterns that can predict large-scale events. His book, The Black Swan, is a must-read for any practitioner. From now on, we need to be better prepared and flexible enough to respond to the events whether we see them coming or not.
The reslience program of the future
So what should we expect next year in 2022? As outlined here, we need to better integrate cross-functionally with other domain owners in risk, security, communications, and technology. It is up to us to identify the gaps in our current programming and close those loopholes. A resilience program of the future partners closely with leadership, boards, business stakeholders, vendors and keeps the customer top of mind.
It focuses on prevention more than ever. A robust program will align risk management, cyber and physical security, reputational monitoring, and crisis response. It will de-emphasize compliance and instead focus on customer needs. You may ask, what about the regulators? From what I hear, even agencies in the US have their eye on the new prize by touting Sound Practices to Strengthen Operational Resilience. They’ve laid out the roadmap, and as I already wrote about, it is The End of Business Continuity As We Know It. For me, this is something to embrace. Resilience is a pathway to increased viability and relevance.
I'm appreciative of my network and you!
The past year has been challenging and rewarding. Business continuity gained the opportunity to flex its muscle and share its benefits. Companies that embraced the discipline experienced significant gains in moving through COVID with clarity of insight and elasticity. No one asked for COVID, but organizations that enabled continuity coordination continued to thrive. Of course, we all suffered losses, and hard choices will likely follow us into the new year.
However, I am thankful to be part of this remarkable journey. I plan to dig deeper into the hows and whys of recasting BCM organizationally in the weeks ahead. Not only will I share my experience but spotlight those already trailblazing. Thank you for continuing to read, contemplate, and comment on these ideas. Hopefully, this resonates with you, but I want to hear why if it doesn’t. We need robust and open debate. Shared sound practices are what will propel us forward in the most advantageous way possible.