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Positive Leadership, Positive Culture

Leadership support leads to a positive Business Continuity (BC) culture, which leads to effective Business Continuity Management (BCM). To the BC Practitioner, this is obvious, but the leadership, or top management, of some organisations are still in the dark.  Enlightened top management are already following the requirements of ISO22301 by demonstrating leadership and commitment to BCM and establishing and communicating a Business Continuity policy.

In our travels, we have come across organisations on both sides of the fence. BC Managers lacking leadership support have an uphill battle to embed BC in the organisational culture and, as a result, are struggling to implement their BC program. This is found across the board – large Government bodies, infrastructure companies, services providers – no industry is immune. But where top management is walking the walk the job is much easier. Here are five examples of organisations with leadership support which are improving BC in their organisations in very different ways.

Two electricity distributors throughout Melbourne and Western Victoria, the authority for BCM come directly from the Chairman of the Board.  This authority is then delegated out to employees formally through the organisation’s Crisis Management documentation, which is signed-off and supported by all top management.

General Managers nominate BC Coordinators from each Business Unit who are then authorised to act for their Business Unit and participate in the Business Recovery Teams during an event.

Confirmation that the organisation’s BC program is working is given through the results of exercises, which are communicated to Executive Management, the Board and the BC Co-ordinators.

Staff BC awareness sessions are held regularly and all staff have a sticker with Emergency contact details on the reverse of their ID card.  =Reinforcement of the importance of BC to the organisation is provided through correspondence from the CEO to all staff.

A large bank has improved BCM culture using the concept of BCM Time and an annual BCM Timetable. Authority for the BCM Program comes from the Board through the Operational Risk and Board Risk Committees. Making sure the Bank has well-embedded and tested BC Plans for critical operations to minimise business disruptions makes good business sense and aligns to the Bank’s vision – “We aim to be Australia’s leading customer connected Bank.”

All Business units are expected to complete their BCM activities within a set time-frame. BCM Time is promoted throughout the organisation and progress with BCM tasks is actively discussed.

The BCM program at a health insurance client is overseen by a BC Steering Committee, comprised of senior stakeholders across the business, which provides the appropriate governance and structure necessary for the Board and Audit & Risk Committee to be assured that continuity risk is being effectively managed.  Primary support and authority is obtained through senior management who have specific business continuity-related responsibilities, and the program is owned and managed by the Group Business Continuity Team.

The BCM culture is positive and staff are engaged through induction sessions including BC, scheduled biannual maintenance and review activities (including BIA and BCP updates, exercising and testing) as well as industry events. A recent example is Business Continuity Awareness Week where posters were displayed around the offices nationally, customised stationery was distributed, articles were published on the intranet and a prize draw was held with the first prize of a weekend for two at any capital city.

At a Victorian Department, the authority for BCM comes directly from a committee of senior executives who own the program and are responsible for coordinating the Department’s response during an event. The committee and BCM emergency response and business recovery teams participate in an annual exercise of the BC Plan and approve and monitor the implementation of any key findings.

Educating and engaging staff in the BC program is ongoing and includes providing BC information to new staff in their induction kit, a BCM Home Page on the Intranet containing awareness articles and competitions and presentations delivered to targeted groups or by invitation.

Internationally, we’ve also seen excellent examples of BCM Leadership. At Kenya Pipeline Company Ltd, the Managing Director made his BCM cultural requirements very clear to the top three levels of management at their BC Project launch – BCM must be an ongoing shared responsibility and the governance structure must separate program activities from decision-making and roadblock removal.  Management must be accountable for the operational protection of the organisation and clear time must be allocated to perform BCM tasks.

These examples show that positive BC Culture is achieved directly through Senior Management support and leadership.  With such commitment, the BC Team can improve the BC Culture within the organisation using tools such as

  • Regular communications from the CEO or Senior Management regarding the importance of BC to the organisation;
  • Including BC in the Induction program;
  • Establishing an annual Timetable for the performance of BC activities;
  • Creating Awareness campaigns including Intranet resources, competitions and promotion throughout the organisation.

By demonstrating a commitment to BC and creating an expectation that BC will become a core requirement, Senior Management creates the foundations for a positive, pro-active BC Culture.