The California wildfires of 2019 and the Australian bushfires currently raging have seen the loss of lives, property, businesses as well as bushes, forests, and parks. In Australia, it is estimated that at least 33 people perished in the fire and more than 11 million hectares of bush, forest and parks across Australia has burned. The California fires went hand in hand with power outages that affected hundreds of thousands of people. In addition, organizations also had to contend with fire-related disruptions such as power outages. One San Francisco-based organization reported that almost 50% of its employees were without power at their homes, suffered from smoke inhalation and their children were out of school.
In our last instalment of the “This is not a drill” series, instead of focusing on what you must do as we have done in previous posts, we reflect on three steps one organization took to successfully navigate a fire-related disaster:
Fires and the power outages that usually accompany them have the potential to impact hundreds of thousands of people both at home, at the workplace and at school.
1. They were prepared
Leaders are faced with numerous competing priorities and issues immediately following a disaster such as a fire or fire-related disruption such as a power outage. They must keep operations running, keep employees calm and focused, factor in health and safety issues as well as customer-related issues such as possible service and delivery disruptions. Not only were they prepared when activating their business process automation plan they simulated their plan enough times so that each person knew exactly what to do when the proverbial red button was pushed.
2. The team members leading the execution of the business continuity/disaster recovery strategy were strong decisionmakers
The leadership team realized that when the organization was faced with a disruption, instead of getting bogged down, confused or disorganized, it was critical to focus on the needs of the organization, its employees and customers. How did they do this? They leveraged effective decision making which in turn drove fast actions. The team knew exactly what their responsibilities were, they reacted swiftly, and focused on decisions rather than discussions.
3. The organization focused on making effective decisions for both employees and customers
What an organization must not lose sight of is the fact that a disaster or disruptive event as mentioned above also impact on its employees. Allowing parents to bring children to the office where schools are closed, allowing work-from-home options for employees who cannot make it into work and, where possible, shifting operations to an alternative site are all with the bigger picture in mind – with employees’ concerned eased, operations can go ahead and customers will continue to receive the expected service or delivery.
Are you prepared for the next fire, flood, pandemic, office move, active shooter or cyber attack?
Read the full "This is not a drill" series: