If we told you that you could write a business continuity exercise for every plan and every team in your organisation in the next 3 minutes, would you believe us?
What if we told you that the rehearsal you created in less than 3 minutes could be delivered to managers by email and, potentially, all be completed within a month?
If you said, “Yes, of course” then we think you’ve probably discovered one of the most powerful business continuity tools the planner has in their arsenal: the two sentence business continuity exercise.
“Imagine the fire alarms sounded and we all evacuated as normal but, after we got, outside we realised it was a real fire and it had spread to our area(s) of the building. What would our issues be and how does our business continuity plan help us manage what happens next?”
Simpler continuity plans benefit from simple continuity exercises, as well as more complicated exercises. In fact, sometimes complicated plans also benefit from simple two sentence exercises because they sense-check some fundamental elements of a business continuity plan.
Imagine you were a team leader a business continuity plan. If you got an email asking if you could use a two sentence exercise to open a 15 minute discussion/plan review in the next team meeting, could you do it? Of course you could! Do you think it would result in simple benefits? Of course it would!
A good two sentence exercise should produce all the following benefits:
- Raise awareness of business continuity
- Raise awareness of the content of individual continuity plans
- Encourage teams to pro-actively review their plan together
- Facilitate discussions about how to improve a plan in light of a simple scenario
- Highlight gaps in a plan
- Encourage routine updates and amendments
- Encourage actions to enhance resilience
- Embed business continuity thinking in the culture
And best of all, it should be very simple for you to come up with a new scenario every six months or so.
If you’re creating an awareness campaign, you could even consider printing attractive posters with tw0-sentence scenarios out on your office printer and placing them in strategic workplace areas. We particularly like lifts and the back of bathroom doors!
Other examples of two sentence exercises include:
“Imagine we’ve no access to the IT network for 3 days: no files, email or contact lists or anything else that’s only available via the IT network. What would our issues be and how would our business continuity plan help us manage what happened next?”
“Imagine that there’s a strike by all public service workers: schools and public transport are mostly closed, so many of our staff are unable to attend work as they need to look after dependents or can’t get to work. What would our issues be and how would our business continuity plan help us manage what happened next?
As the continuity planner, you already know that beneath each two-sentence exercises you’re asking them to consider at least one of the common ‘lack of‘ scenarios, i.e. impact from lack of access to a building, lack of infrastructure, lack of key people and so on. The story (or scenario) just makes the activity a little more interesting for the teams.
And we’re reckoning you could come up with at least one of your own in the next 3 minutes!
We’ve not come across a plan that wouldn’t benefit from this kind of exercise, either routinely or on occasion. It’s very clear that some plans also need far more sophisticated and tailored testing, but for simple plans, or a quick win on all plans, don’t dismiss the idea of a two sentence exercise before you’ve tried it for yourself. It can be simple, easy, useful and very effective.
We’d suggest that you’re covering email (or the footer of your poster) asks for actions to be noted and assigned so that the benefits of the discussions are realised for your business continuity program.
Have you any stories, examples or comments on running two sentence exercises? Do you have any thoughts on why it would or wouldn’t be a useful tool in your organisation? Please join the discussion by commenting below.
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