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Fight the BCM shopping addiction

Shopping therapy: these two words generally conjure up scenes from rom-coms like “Confessions of a Shopaholic,” in which a woman scorned by a handsome scoundrel soothes her ego by purchasing the most expensive shoes she can find.

While these scenes tend to feel contrived, they represent something most of us can relate to – the desire to comfort ourselves with something shiny and new after the infliction of an injury. In this, corporations are just like the rest of us. When a company finds itself bruised after a continuity incident, business continuity shopping therapy begins. Eager to assure ourselves we won’t get caught unprepared again, we turn to the marketplace to build our arsenal.

An App for That?

As a society, we’re accustomed to solving problems with purchases. “There’s an app for that” isn’t just a tagline, it’s a lifestyle. In an industry that commonly refers to products as “solutions,” BCM practitioners can easily fall victim to the shopping therapy trap.

The impulse to purchase preparedness is natural, particularly in the aftermath of an incident. We urgently want to prove to ourselves, and to our senior management, that the next time disaster strikes, we’ll have the tools to handle it. Building quality plans, driving adoption and awareness, training employees – these things take time. Buying is something we can do now, so we fill our carts with everything from emergency notification systems (ENS) to stockpiles of Tamiflu.

The act of buying tangible items is reassuring, quelling our fears with a temporary, albeit false, sense of safety. This coping mechanism for uncertainty makes us feel like we’re taking proactive measures. We might perceive owning cutting-edge products as a reflection of our BCM sophistication, or as physical proof of our resiliency.

BCM shopping therapy becomes a pitfall when we rely on products to determine our level of preparedness. Soon, we start believing the more tools we own, the better prepared we are. And this is where a BCM shopping addiction begins.

A BCM shopping addiction can be a symptom of a deeper issue.It might be the fact that plans haven’t been updated in ages, the reality that business continuity is a blip on the radar of senior management, or the fear that getting people interested in business continuity will be an uphill battle. Purchasing items can numb those troubling feelings – for a while. With each purchase, we might feel more resilient, but in reality, it’s the easy way out.

Of course, an ENS will be far more useful in managing an incident than a pair of Manolo Blahniks. But while continuity products and tools can prove invaluable, systems alone can never guarantee we’re in the clear. Alone, these objects are like band-aids for organizational health – they cover up the lack of preparedness without getting to the root of the infection.

Band-aids aside, further parallels can be drawn between the realms of organizational risk and personal health. Risk management insurance is similar to health insurance; both are purchased to protect against financial implications of a major injury, but neither prevents it. Even the best insurance plan doesn’t keep us immune or risk-free.

So how do we prevent illness? We care for our health through conscientious eating, exercising, and avoiding stressful and risky situations. Treating business continuity preparedness as a company health program means actively preparing, educating employees, and monitoring for threats to avoid incidents. Neither health programs nor business continuity have direct financial pay-off in the event of an injury, like insurance, but leading a healthy lifestyle determines our ability to bounce back after an incident, or avoid getting hurt at all.

A Must Have?

Like achieving good health, becoming resilient can’t happen overnight – it’s built over time through a commitment to regular habits and behavior. So instead of buying items for the sake of having them, consider how likely you are to get quality use out of them, and how they will help support long-term goals for maturing your business continuity program.

Developing true resiliency requires more than a financial investment – it requires time to build adoption for BCM, dedication to educate employees, and motivation to integrate BCM into the daily business. Don’t start with a 50-pound dumbbell if people will lift it once and quit. A treadmill does nothing left in the corner collecting dust, which is what your business continuity products and tools will do if you don’t use them often. The upside is, they will grow, if and as you use them.

If you believe there’s a true need for a product or tool, ask yourself three questions. Read the rest of the article here at Continuity Insights.