Time is our currency

“If I Had More Time, I Would Have Written a Shorter Letter” is oft cited – and the range of citations is interesting in itself. Today, I share a somewhat rambling reflection of being one week out from Beta testing a “Minimum Viable Product” I believe to be already good, and which will become, a terrific tool to support businesses rebooting out of the current crisis.

The “Weekend Fin” this morning showed that mainstream considerations are now clearly focused on how and when to “get back”.

A dilemma faced by all of us is that this is not a “standard” business disruption. It is a “crisis” – and as noted in the International Crisis Management Standard, “crises through a combination of their novelty, inherent uncertainty and potential scale and duration of impact, are rarely resolvable through the application of predefined procedures and plans. They demand a flexible, creative, strategic and sustained response…..”

Risk-based approaches which emphasise the importance of “establishing context” are useful. Unfortunately, “context” has become a buzzword – and buzzwords become irksome and lose traction. This is unfortunate because “meaning making” or “sense-making” – again, use whichever jargon or buzzword you like – is fundamental. Indeed, critical. It is critical to both “get right” and keep refining.
Revisiting and reviewing your corporate “purpose” – and redefining or validating the objectives you need to pursue should help to set you back “on course”. It may not be your old course but it will be a course away from both unseen rocks and ominous icebergs.

Once your objectives are clarified, it then becomes a question of “how best” to achieve them. Will you continue to rely as much as you used to on off-shore providers? What is your preferred “resource configuration”? How can you manage the capabilities of your business in ways that are agile?

These are among the questions and the opportunities we seek to support with the upcoming realease of our “Agile Business Continuity Planning” Software as a Service (SaaS).

The adapted (Plan-Do-Check-Act) diagram above reflects the iterative and cyclic relationships between dynamic decision making and the execution of action plans – key processes and outcomes supported by the tool.

1. Before Impact steps focus on reducing the susceptibility of resources.
2. After impact steps focus on addressing consequenes of impact.
Screenshot of part of AgileBCP (Demo) Reports Page

Whether our approach adds sufficient value whereby reports support good decision making – (because we do think informed decisions are generally better decisions) – will be explored next week by some terrific Beta Testers. Testers committed to giving us “negative feedback where and as required”.
I look forward to it! Stay tuned.

Beta Testing next week!

I love how people start their posts with “I’m excited to …”

People who know me know that I am fairly “unexcitable” – but trust me, I am excited.

Let me share where we are up to. This week, our Partnership Board meeting approved moving our upcoming Software as a Service (SaaS) to Beta testing next week.

We have targetted trusted colleagues to support us in this. There are three key differentiators in our approach – some are around simplicity and others are around improved practice.

The first “hook” (don’t you just love marketing jargon) is a respectful understanding that most people in a crisis bring together a team of bright and enthusiastic individuals who too often “flap about”. We will be empowering them with “structure” – a great process and straightforward tool.

Move from uncertainty to informed decisions

Stay tuned.





Coronavirus advice …

I’m taking the liberty of reposting what I think is a useful set of considerations – from an expert – that go beyond just washing your hands.

“American pathologist James Robb was one of the first molecular virologists to study coronaviruses in the 1970s. He sent this email to family and friends about how he’s preparing for the spread of COVID-19.

Here is what I have done and the precautions that I take and will take. These are the same precautions I currently use during our influenza seasons, except for the mask and gloves:

  1. NO HANDSHAKING! Use a fist bump, slight bow, elbow bump, etc.
  2. Use ONLY your knuckle to touch light switches, elevator buttons, etc. Lift the gasoline dispenser with a paper towel or use a disposable glove.
  3. Open doors with your closed fist or hip — do not grasp the handle with your hand, unless there is no other way to open the door. Especially important on bathroom and post office/commercial doors.
  4. Use disinfectant wipes at the stores when they are available, including wiping the handle and child seat in grocery carts.
  5. Wash your hands with soap for 10-20 seconds and/or use a greater than 60% alcohol-based hand sanitiser whenever you return home from any activity that involves locations where other people have been.
  6. Keep a bottle of sanitiser available at each of your home’s entrances and in your car for use after getting gas or touching other contaminated objects when you can’t immediately wash your hands.
  7. If possible, cough or sneeze into a disposable tissue and discard. Use your elbow only if you have to. The clothing on your elbow will contain infectious virus that can be passed on for up to a week or more!

What I have stocked in preparation

  1. Latex or nitrile latex disposable gloves for use when going shopping, using the gasoline pump, and all other outside activities when you come in contact with contaminated areas.

Note: this virus is spread in large droplets by coughing and sneezing. This means that the air will not infect you! BUT all the surfaces where these droplets land are infectious for about a week on average — everything that is associated with infected people will be contaminated and potentially infectious.

The virus is on surfaces and you will not be infected unless your unprotected face is directly coughed or sneezed upon. This virus only has cell receptors for lung cells (it only infects your lungs). The only way for the virus to infect you is through your nose or mouth via your hands or an infected cough or sneeze on to or in to your nose or mouth.

  1. Stock up now with disposable surgical masks and use them to prevent you from touching your nose and/or mouth (We touch our nose and mouth 90 times a day without knowing it!). This is the only way this virus can infect you — it is lung-specific. The mask will not prevent the virus in a direct sneeze from getting into your nose or mouth — it is only to keep you from touching your nose or mouth.
  2. Stock up now with hand sanitisers and latex/nitrile gloves (get the appropriate sizes for your family). The hand sanitisers must be alcohol-based and greater than 60% alcohol to be effective.
  3. Stock up now with zinc lozenges. These lozenges have been proven to be effective in blocking coronavirus (and most other viruses) from multiplying in your throat and nasopharynx. Use as directed several times each day when you begin to feel any “cold-like” symptoms beginning. It is best to lie down and let the lozenge dissolve in the back of your throat and nasopharynx. Cold-EEZE lozenges is one brand available, but there are other brands available.

I, as many others do, hope that this pandemic will be reasonably contained, BUT I personally do not think it will be. Humans have never seen this snake-associated virus before and have no internal defence against it.

Tremendous worldwide efforts are being made to understand the molecular and clinical virology of this virus. Unbelievable molecular knowledge about the genomics, structure, and virulence of this virus has already been achieved. But there will be no drugs or vaccines available this year to protect us or limit the infection within us. Only symptomatic support is available.

I hope these personal thoughts will be helpful during this potentially catastrophic pandemic. You are welcome to share this email. Good luck to all of us!

Dr James Robb is a virologist and pathologist. He studied coronaviruses while a professor of pathology at the University of California, San Diego, in the late 1970s.“

How can “dry” subjects be communicated?

Effective communication is characterised by enthusiasm and focus – on the part of all involved.

Too often this is not the case.

Putting aside environmental influences (such as cold rooms and uncomfortable seats) I think there are three key variables:

  • the “presenter” may be too distant, academic, or didactic.
  • the “message or subject” may be too dry, dull – even dare I say it, boring; and
  • the “audience” may be distracted, attending under compulsion, or even perhaps just not even interested.

One way of giving the process a better chance of success is to illustrate with examples or by stories – almost as analogy or metaphor – and in selecting an appropriate example or story, use everyday experience(s) that nearly everyone will be familiar with.

Yesterday I decided to video my morning cup of tea on the iPhone – then added a few pics using the free app “Splice”. The aim was to promote some Business Continuity principles – and a software tool (Excel Workbook which works like an app rather than a spreadsheet); while having a bit of fun to boot.

What do you think (aside from the fact that I’m still having fun)? The two main variations on the theme are below:

The “nearly four minute” ramble version
The “under a minute” focused version

I look forward to your reflections and receiving your feedback.

Are Templates Procrustean Beds?

The story of the “generous” Procrustes is an illustrative one.

After offering hospitality to those in need, Procrustes either stretched the limbs of the short to fit his bed – or hacked those of the long, again, to fit his bed.

Too often we see “guides” and “standards” parading as flexible tools – but with a prescribed and narrow approach aligned to a politically preferred approach or even, a preferred result!

When there is a failure to start with an appreciation of context, such narrow, indeed blind-sided approaches, are disrespectful.

Templates – and other heuristic devices – can be dangerous

Recognising the “real” KISS – keeping it short and simple – and starting with an appreciation of context with templates that guide good risk management processes – we are pleased to make available an integrated set of three templates (available globally for just US$10 each, or US$25 a bundle). The Complete Risk Management Toolkit – is a 1.3 MB bundle available with free shipping on a wafer USB card comprising (a) a nine step risk assessment and treatment template; (b) a business continuity template; and (c) an emergency management plan for facilities template.

Risk Management Toolkit

Free shipping of a wafer USB with templates for risk assessment, treatment, business continuity, and emergency management for facilities.


Information is not fake news

“When a big wildfire hits a community resulting in loss of life and property you can be sure emotions will run high in the aftermath. You can also be sure a range of strongly held opinions will be expressed on what should be done in the future to prevent such disasters happening again. What you rarely see, however, is a long, hard examination of the evidence.” (Philip Gibbons, a professor at The Australian National University in Canberra introducing a piece in the Natural Hazards Observer, July 2012)

The last few days has seen a blossoming of social media lampooning Donald Trump over his “raking” comments. Trump is a master of distraction – of misdirection. Lampooning him is to fall directly into his hands and lower the conversation.

In the same piece (2012) Gibbons wraps with “Evidence is not as timely as opinion. Evidence is not as entertaining as opinion (my emphasis). Evidence isn’t as black and white as opinion. And while opinion is delivered with confidence and certainty, evidence must be presented with caution and uncertainty.”

What characterises evidence, among other things around methodology, is that it has its basis in information. Information, by inherent definition, “informs” – it reduces uncertainty. It is fundamental to good risk management.

The information has been building for many years (this report from 2013)

In the raking over of the coals, over the next months – indeed over the next years – we will see again the struggle between opinion and evidence. Will we see an open and challenging approach which informs future choices? Does the evidence to date indicate a willingness for such an approach? I am yet to be convinced that such a culture will prevail.