Academic journal article ABA Banking Journal

Against the Grain: Making a Date with Crisis. (Briefing)

Academic journal article ABA Banking Journal

Against the Grain: Making a Date with Crisis. (Briefing)

Article excerpt

Regardless of our circumstances we often share the same thoughts. The notion, "It can't happen here," is such a common way of looking at disaster that even Kissinger got into the act with his famous, "There cannot be a crisis next week. My schedule is already full."

Humor aside, disasters happen regardless of what you had planned for the week. How badly they affect us is determined by our ability to respond without warning to crisis situations.

The traditional approach to disaster planning is to create a methodology, install contingency plans, ensure that proper backups of crucial data are made, and place all this documentation in yellow binders on a shelf. If we're diligent, we take it out once a year for some exercise.

This way of planning for disaster, while providing many benefits, also contains a serious flaw. It's not so much the cost, insurance always costs money. The flaw is more subtle, but potentially powerful enough to scuttle the best laid plans. It is this: Disasters by their very nature, happen unexpectedly. Our success is based upon how we react when we're confused and don't know what's going on. Planning allows us to think through the process of what to do if (when?) something happens, before it actually occurs. That thought process alone is the central core of any contingency plan, but just thinking about it isn't enough. Sometimes we have to go into the water before we know how to swim. We have to live it, to learn from it.

How to improve a disaster recovery plan? Given the stated nature of disasters, "unexpectedly" seems like the right approach. How about this?

At 9:00 a.m. an a Monday, inform 50% (or less if that would be too disruptive) of your management team, individually and personally, that they're leaving immediately for a off-site location for an emergency meeting. …

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