It came out of a discussion I had earlier today with a friend who was describing his PhD content on disaster planning stemming from his time as an Assistant Chief Fire Officer. We talked about the Firefighters strikes and the necessity to provide cover by emergency planning.
That planning in one authority had reduced the number of tenders on the streets down to a minimum operating level, extending cover when needed with the use of neighboring services, standby retained firefighters and a host of other clever means.
Out of this carefully thought though plan, the Chief Fire Officers had collated data. In their analysis the question arose – why isn’t this the only standard operating model?
Clearly there was little or no impact on front line services, the public were being served in a way that provided no discernible difference, yet the operating model was reduced in size and operated more flexibly, more efficiently and could respond to changes as, if not more, effectively than before.
Agile planning of a disaster recovery approach had provided them with a sustainable model of service that saved money by reducing internal costs and resources yet provided the same level of public safety and response.
So if this provided the Fire Service with this opportunity to re-examine their model of operations, could this be true of businesses generally?
Can a business use this approach to improve profits radically, restyle their business to become more Customer responsive and innovate to grow?
By bringing the Business contingency planning process to life, not as lip service or a bolt on plan, but by resourcing from Board level, it to discover how your business can operate in a disaster, there are lessons to be learned.
Denial of access to your offices mean your staff can’t get to the building, their computers, the company resources, stock, manufacturing facility. Delivery of your product or service is impacted immediately, but how do you cope?
If your computer systems fail, do you have backup not just of the data, but of the systems, the phone lines, the communications processes, the applications? Can your people work from “the cloud” and if so, how do you change the way you manage them in this event? This may give way to “agile working” concepts.
Distributing stock to be held in multiple locations – maybe even as consignment stock in Customers premises would alleviate the need for central distribution and maybe even save transportation and storage costs.
Manufacturing disasters could be handled by multiple factory locations, licensing others to manufacture on your behalf – partnership opportunity stems from this line of inquiry and a revised “cost to make” analysis results from it.
In establishing the “disaster plan”, many opportunities arise to think differently, more flexibly, establish new ways, methods, locations of working. From this I believe a new business model is possible, one that challenges the status quo of today’s operations.
Making incremental changes within any business of size, relies upon the individuals agreement to shift the model, the power base, their comfort zones, and this is a hard thing to achieve.
The focus of a theoretical disaster however, brings people together to solve a very different problem – that of how to survive and thrive no matter what.
Wait a minute -isn’t that the purpose of the base business plan?