Improve crisis preparedness to reduce business downtime, increase workplace safety and data security, mitigate overall risks: at DRJ Spring 2019, one of the leading international events about business continuity and disaster recovery; we had remarkable insights from some of the most important crisis management experts.

We live and operate in an uncertain world, where climate change-driven natural disasters are becoming more frequent and intense, and serious events are increasingly threatening facilities, power, communications and people. Data are also under attack, as crisis generated by ransomware, cybercrime or user errors are rocketing. All organisations should be prepared to face a crisis – sooner or later, it will happen – and the more a business is resilient, the quicker it will recover, and the smallest impact it will suffer.

Despite the gravity of this topic, Michele Turner, senior manager for business resiliency at Amazon, invited attendees to change their point of view. She defined business continuity as an art, where different colours can be combined, and different techniques can be used, to create a real masterpiece. Considering there are so many frameworks, methodologies, and maturity models for crisis management, we should think of this practice much more as an art, than science itself.

Some organisations underestimate key aspects such as critical functions and dependencies when addressing business continuity-related items or emergency preparedness plans. With this, they potentially miss the mark on selecting the colours and blending they need. “There is a difference in the knowing vs applying to action, and therein lies the beauty in creating business continuity programs,” said Turner.

Dr Bob Chandler, a professor at Lipscomb University, focused on foresight for predictive planning and decision making, reminding the importance of strategies and tools to detect better possible crisis scenarios and available options to respond. Most critical decisions must be made in challenging conditions, where information might not be accurate, and communications might not be transparent. Also, we have to acknowledge that the human mind can be clouded with cognitive issues, biases, limitations, and emotions, thus not ideally set to face an adverse event. “We must strive to understand human performance and decision making so that we can make better decisions at times when our decisions matter the most,” explained Chandler.

In this uncertain world, it is fundamental for businesses to rely on crisis management and mass notification tools, supporting business continuity teams to early recognise potentially critical events and orchestrate a systematic and well-organised response. That’s key to minimise the impact on processes and stakeholders and improve organisational resilience.