What's your message?
Struggling to raise awareness of your business continuity program within your organization? Lawrence Robert offers some help.
Business continuity is many things to many people. To the lay person, it may be viewed as a benign business process, to C level executives it may be a critical part of business or simply an 'IT function', yet to people in the operational components of the business it may be better understood as a process that protects the business. Whatever the interpretation may be, we, as professionals, as champions of the business continuity profession, know all the various aspects of how, why, and when the business continuity process is of value to a business. We have seen it first hand during events. We see it as we educate various levels of the business, from C level right through the customer service and operational groups.
Although we are tasked to build programs, we need to step back as a profession and solidify a unified mission statement, a statement of 'why' we do what we do: not what we produce. Yes, what we produce is very important. Without that aspect, we have no program. What I am describing is how we communicate to an audience in a way that establishes a baseline; a message that, if there is one thing a listener takes away from the conversation, or the presentation, it is a sense of purpose for your program.
We know all the components. We know how critical they are to sustaining the business during an event, so why do we face resistance as we develop and maintain our programs? The answer is communications.
Many times someone may be well versed about a topic, but cannot communicate well about it. They could be in a senior position in their field and be able to explain any detail in depth when conversation is 'one on one' or in a small group: but to convey a message that resonates with a wider audience is paramount to being successful; and many times people fail to get the message across because it does not have the right mix of strategic understanding, lacks passion, and fails to talk to the audience’s vested interest in the chosen topic.
When discussing your business continuity program, do not jump into 'what' the audience needs to do: but spend time telling them 'why' they should be doing it. Passion for your profession doesn't need to be forceful to be understood. Passion for why you believe in the process should be well thought out and grounded in your conviction to protect your company. Knowing how you fit in brings a sense of purpose that drives your need to excel in the field of business continuity.
Just as we take disasters and transform them into solutions, we also need to take the frustrations in moving our programs forward, and transform them into challenges that can be overcome. These challenges will move our profession forward to the next level. How do we achieve this? Through various means, such as:
Internal adoption: Internal adoption is used by many companies. By utilizing branding professionals to help deliver the message, companies can bring their employees into the fold by emphasizing their individual contributions to the greater good of the company. In a successful internal adoption, every employee knows how his or her actions contribute to the success of the company and can verbalize that contribution. Get people to believe what you believe, and you will be able to leverage internal adoption in many beneficial ways for your business continuity program.
Hallway speech: Do you have one? Is it crisp? Does it speak to the 'why' your program is important? You won't have time to describe BIA, plan building, or any of the other components of the program. Remember, you have a very limited time to convey your message. Once you get one, modify it for senior leadership, operational managers, and business line employees. They are all equally as important. With your senior leadership team, talk about risks to the business in a specific location that produces critical components or services to the viability of the company. Talk about the business goals and how your program can help achieve better alignment of the business with IT. There are many conversations that you can develop to grab someone's attention. Although actual disasters are shocking, don't use these to frighten folks into compliance with the program. Reach people on a logical basis that they can digest; and enable them to come to the desired conclusion about the importance of your program.
These are just two of the key points used to promote your business continuity program. There are more, but the key common denominator is that they should all be tailored to your internal political climate; and to your perceived and real position in your company (which can be different).
So, what are you selling to the business? To be truly successful, understand that you are not selling BIA, plans, analysis, testing, and compliance, which of course are critical success factors to program building. You are selling what you believe to be critical to the sustainability of your company. You are exposing people to something that challenges them, makes them responsible for their contribution to the success of their company. This is not done by telling them facts, but by getting them to believe in what you already know.
Lawrence holds certifications as a (CBCP) Certified Business Continuity Professional, (CBCLA) Certified Business Continuity Lead Auditor, and (CBRP) Certified Business Resilience Professional. Lawrence also served as a board member for the Association of Contingency Planners, Boston Chapter as well as NEDRIX.
•Date: 25th May 2012 • US/World •Type: Article • Topic: BC general