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Mr Claus sets out to make sure his organization is resilient for Christmas 2015! In a new series of articles Paul Kudray follows his progress and highlights some lessons for all business continuity and resilience planners.

KCL is proud to announce that Santa Claus (or Father Christmas to us in Blighty), has awarded his resilience planning to us for 2015! What a fantastic opportunity and a huge task – the pressure is on! I’m confident we have the experience and with a little help from all of our friends out there in the resilience world, we can help him protect his most urgent products and services for Christmas 2015!

Resilient rather than de-resilient leadership

I had my first meeting with the ‘real’ Father Christmas last month as part of the scoping process. Santa explained that his organization has such an enormous task on its hands - both in the build up to the big day (as you’re no doubt more than aware) and in balancing work and business with family values!

His top priorities not only include making sure he can get around to everyone’s home on the same night - going all around the world, crossing every time zone and battling snow, sun and terrorists - it’s also essential he’s able to deliver his services and make it back home ready for family time – and a big lunch with all the trimmings - with Mrs C and the elves. Christmas isn’t just about presents it’s about presence. And it’s about values and balance too.

Santa is - what we call in the North of England – a top bloke. He, along with Mrs C and the senior executive elves are the ‘top management’ as we describe in business continuity management language.

Santa said he has nowhere to hide if it all goes wrong (and it nearly did last year, hence we got the call: more about that later!)

Mr Claus, Saint Nick, Father Christmas - whichever name you use - is known high and low, far and wide. His global following is enormous; and his reputation for being the one who always delivers – no matter what – is legendary. There’s absolutely no way he can afford to be de-resilient. The stakes are too high to fail. He and his team have a job to do and a lot of stakeholders to please. Failure is a not an option for Father Christmas.

Last Christmas

During the scoping exercise, Santa and his top management elves talked me through the extent of their organization along with the objectives and targets they have. He explained that over the years, he and the Claus team have always ‘got by’ without a full set of resilient capabilities. As you’d expect, he’s experienced some disruptive challenges in the past. There was that foggy night in 1939 when Rudolf earnt his promotion, leading the sleigh out of serious trouble! Santa found it amusing that Rudolf has ‘dined’ on that story ever since! Ho,ho,ho laughed Santa…

Incidentally we will discuss Rudolf later in the series: Santa hopes we’ll give him a new dinner party story…

Plan, Do, Check, Act (PDCA) model

Santa admitted that in the past his organization has been a bit ‘lucky’ because they’ve managed without any resilience planning. He didn’t need plans before; if anything went wrong, he knew what to do – it ‘was in his head’! He’d always felt a bit blessed (his mother told him he’d been kissed by angels as a baby) so nothing bad was ‘going to happen to him and his organization’. Until last year… the result of which prompted one of his partners to ask for evidence of his business continuity plan this autumn.

Panic struck Santa for a while; he knew a lot about planning and FC or SC. But BC! He spoke with one of his senior elves who told him all about business continuity management and the Plan, Do, Check, Act (PDCA) model. The senior elf – whose name is Stekkjarstaur - said they should invest in quality resilience planning not just for now but forever.

There isn’t time to go for full ISO 22301 certification this year. But they can work in the spirit of it now, to make sure they’re as resilient as possible for Christmas 2015.

Silent night

Some organizations give business continuity management and resilience the ‘silent night’ treatment! I don’t mean the holy night, as in the hymn… rather the silent night response!

It’s not just the turkey that gets a glaze; it’s the leaders’ eyes at the thought of time spent developing resilience. It sounds like stopping productivity, whilst (boring) plans are developed!

Holy night

Santa’s not that kind of leader and Stekkjarstaur, Stufur, Faldafeykir and Thvorusleikir all gave a firm commitment at their board meeting to make resilience happen for Christmas 2015 and beyond.

We developed a business continuity policy to ensure they can operate at the three levels; strategic, tactical and operational. They agreed the scope: what was to be included and what would fall outside of the business continuity management programme. And they considered the best practice available across the world, in addition to the interests of external stakeholders.

Of course, children, mums and dads, brothers and sisters, aunties and uncles, me and you are interested parties – we help in our own way, Internet shopping permitting – but we want Santa to do his magic when the big day comes, don’t we?

Oh yes we do! … said panto style.

Santa’s team said they would circulate their policy for consultation before signing it off.

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas

As the stores get busy on the high streets, the shopping malls full, Black Friday’s been and gone and Wizzard are belting out ‘I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday’, it is beginning to look a lot like Christmas out there! So much so, our neighbours have already got the lights up!

As work shows no sign of letting up and issues go on around the world, regardless of the time of year, the pressure is on for Santa and his organization to be resilient and prepared for any disruption that could damage his brand and reputation.

A spaceman came travelling

We are at the stage of embedding Santa’s resilience policy across the organization. Even though it’s December; even though they’re in their busiest month of the year; and even though this is a highly time critical period: it’s still important the whole organization knows what resilience means and what needs doing. Through a strong awareness programme, some great training and a team of competent elves, Santa is assured that his organization can move on to the next phase of undertaking a business impact analysis.

Scientific, hard work and dull were the words I heard some of the elves uttering and when I looked, even Santa’s normally ever-shiny eyes, were showing signs of glazing over as I tried to describe what a BIA was to him. So I changed tack and described business continuity management as like having sex with the lights on and we were back on track. Ho,ho,ho he laughed, his cheeks regaining their familiar rosy red glow. He liked that one!

Next week, Santa and his organization look at what could go wrong – particularly after last year, who they rely on and what they can do to make sure they are resilient. And of course, how they can make it a great Christmas for everyone.

The author

Paul KudrayAn international leader in business resilience consultancy, training and coaching; Paul Kudray, MSc FICPEM CBCI AMBCI, is an ex-emergency services commander who finished an exemplary 32 year career in the UK healthcare sector, working for the NHS - culminating in 7½ years as the Director of Resilience for one of the world’s largest ambulance services, NWAS NHS Trust. He now works with private and public sector clients around the world, training, advising, coaching and mentoring them at the highest levels about emergency and business continuity management. Paul's company is KCLContact Paul at or via LinkedIn 

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