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Was it luck or preparedness?

Over the last few weeks, I've kept in touch with friends, colleagues and clients in New York and New Jersey to find out how they are coping with the Hurricane Sandy aftermath. Thankfully, while not without material losses, most of them and their loved ones are well.  Many clients had to stop doing business for a few days right after the storm, but fortunately, were able to quickly get back to business.

For organizations hard hit by Sandy, this will no doubt prompt them to take a hard look at their risk management practices. Many of these organizations probably had business continuity and disaster recovery plans that proved incomplete and inefficient. Hence, after their recovery efforts, they will most likely review their plans and look for ways to make them better. Conversely, organizations that were less impacted may have a tendency to move on and forget.

When talking to organizations that have been able to quickly recover after an incident or a crisis, I always ask executives if their recovery was the result of successful preparation and proficient plan execution, or if they just got lucky — an event occurring during a low activity period, having all the right people at the right time, etc.  In most cases, unfortunately, I've found that successful recovery is the result of luck, more than preparedness.

So, for those lucky ones, this is an opportunity to ask yourselves:

  • What if my facilities had suffered grater damage?
  • What if key decision makers or personnel were not available?
  • What if we had lost key systems or data?
  • Would we be as successful in responding to this or any other type of event?
Take the time now to learn how others responded -- what worked, what didn't. And create your own luck by improving your preparedness.