Season 1, Episode 1: Resilience: Where to Start? discusses where to start when it comes to resilience. Join Manager of Advisory Services Kim Hirsch, Senior Director of Product Marketing Paula Fontana, and VP of Product Marketing T.J. Kuhny for a back to the basics discussion. In this episode, you will learn about: starting out in continuity, risk, and resilience, the four potential risk impacts, and protecting our organization. Learn more about Fusion Risk Management and see how technology can help with the basics. Discover what's possible and request a demo!
TJ Kuhny (00:01):
Alright, welcome. Welcome to you. Our listener and our partner in this conversation, we're going to have today around building a more resilient world. This podcast is sponsored by Fusion Risk Management. And, in this series, you know, we hope that you'll listen and learn. Just like you're a member of our team where we're discussing the basics of business continuity and risk management. My name is TJ Kuhny and I'm joined by Kim Hirsch and Paula Fontana who are two great conversationalists on the topic of getting started with resilience. Kim is a manager of our advisory services team, and Paula is a senior director on our product marketing team. Kim and Paula, how are you doing today?
Kim Hirsch (00:42):
Really great. And, really excited to talk about this subject.
Paula Fontana (00:46):
Yeah, it's such an important one.
TJ Kuhny (00:48):
Great. I thought, you know, we could kind of get started a little bit with you, Kim. I know you've been working for a significant part of your career on helping organizations become resilient. And I'd like to see maybe if you could help me understand where to start with this broad idea of becoming resilient as an organization. So I'm thinking that maybe even the guests who I've got next to me, he was listening along with us. You know, they may be in this type of situation, but let's assume that, you know, I'm a company that isn't well-prepared for crisis. Maybe I wasn't prepared for any type of crisis, much less a pandemic that's just happened. So, you know, we don't have a business continuity program. We do have some basic documents for emergency management, you know, like what to do in a fire, snow storm, that kind of thing. If you look at me as a company, like, am I unusual? You know, what, where should I start?
Kim Hirsch (01:38):
Yeah. That that's a really great place to begin the conversation. I think it's not unusual at all for companies to have that kind of emergency management documentation. I think OSHA requires it and just kind of basic common sense. People know, I need to know how to get my employees out if there's a fire or where we're going to go, if there's tornado, something like that. But people stopping there, they're doing a disservice to themselves because when we talk about the broader subject of resiliency and it's really about how do I make sure that my company can survive any kind of crisis? So, you know, what do we do after that fire? What do we do after that tornado to get ourselves up and running? It's an unfortunate statistic, but 80% of businesses that undergo some sort of crisis never reopened their doors. And, the big reason for that is that people don't really understand how to do planning. So that's what we want to kind of talk about through this series. So it is different than emergency preparations. Those are really important. Life safety is always the first thing. But after that, as I said, you're kind of focusing in on what can we do to help our business recover from one of those emergencies to get started. You really can't get anywhere without management support. So that's kind of the first thing for me. If the people who are your CEO or company, president, or owner, don't see the need for resiliency planning, it's not going to go very far. So you want to make sure that kind of everybody's on board and sees that there's a need for that. It's important with all the different things that are going on in the world, just in general. I think it's pretty easy to build that case and kind of help people to see why it's needed because there's so many unforeseen obstacles that can come up for your business. But then after that, what I would say is, you know, we're going to be talking about some of the basics through the series, but after that, if you Google the topic of like business continuity specifically and topics like best practice guidelines, there's a wealth of information out there about this subject. So it's kinda one of those things where if you don't know to go look for it, you don't even know it's there, but once you start looking, you'll see that there's a lot of information that will help to guide you. Then after that, where you kind of want to start is by looking at the processes or those foundational aspects of your business that are really important to get moving after a crisis or a disaster, and kind of do some analysis that we'll talk about with that. And, then you write plans and you test the plans and you see how you can improve it. So it's a bit of a process. It takes awhile, but where you want to start is kind of that process level.
Paula Fontana (03:57):
So, Kim, people that I've talked to you about business continuity seem to talk about policy and governance and their program. It just sounds so formal. What does this mean exactly?
Kim Hirsch (04:07):
That's a great question, because I think if you go out and start doing that Google search you'll, you will see some of that kind of language out there. I mean, I kind of started off by saying that you need management support because you're not going to get far without it. And if you formalize that support in the, in the sense of having a policy or having governance, documentation, whatever the standard is for, for your company, that gives you kind of that basis to base your program on, and then reflect that back to the organization to say, this is something that's important. And, most policy documents beyond that will also set up like your authority to do it. So, you know, sometimes people see you coming at them with more work, they're going to be resistant, but it's important for them to understand that doing this is something that that's really vital for the company. It's vital for them having a job after a disaster and want to work with you, but to kind of get around that before you start getting them to see the good part of doing all this work and having that management commitment via a policy that gives you that authority is a really good first step.
TJ Kuhny (05:05):
Yeah, that's interesting. I know it seemed like there were kind of two things there. You mentioned at the, the executive support and just, you know, making sure everyone understands their role, I guess, in the tools that they, you know, it seems like, you know, giving them something that's going to be easy to use or something to understand, you know, how to do the work just, it's not their day job to care about. You know, the things that you as a business continuity person care about.
Kim Hirsch (05:31):
It kind of goes back to kind of helping people to understand why they're doing it. So when I worked at companies doing this for companies as a person on staff, a lot of times the conversation that I had with people was around, you know, I'm, I'm not coming here and asking you to do all this work for me. I'm asking you to do it for you because at the end of the day, after a crisis hits the company, I want you to have a job. And that's what this is really about to say, how do we recover our business once something it, from being able to happen so that we can all get back to making money and being paid. So everybody needs to understand that they have a personal interest in it. And, I think one of the ways that you kind of help people understand that is if you take some sort of near disaster, that's happened to your, to your company. So, you know, you were under a tornado warning or there was something that you thought might have turned into a data breach. You know, just whatever that particular situation is for your company and help them to understand that if next time it isn't a near disaster, but an actual disaster, they want to be prepared. And, the way to prepare is to think about what could go wrong in advance and then to make plans for how you would respond. If it does indeed go wrong.
Paula Fontana (06:39):
What types of events or problems should I think about focusing on?
Kim Hirsch (06:43):
That is one of those questions that kind of seems like it could be a never ending list. If you started saying we could face wildfires or tornadoes or power outages, you're never going to be able to figure out where to focus on first. And, it will seem like such a daunting task why even start. So that's why in the industry, what we do is something that we call all hazards planning. What that means is that every hazard has one or a combination of four potential impacts. And, there are only four impacts that are possible. One is loss of workforce. So I don't have the people that usually do the job able to do so. Loss of workplace, I can't go to the place where I normally work the place where we normally perform our jobs. Loss of technology, pretty self explanatory, my applications of the computer that I work on to do my work isn't working. Or, loss of vendor, I rely on my suppliers and they're not able to perform for some way. So when we talk to people about how to do planning, rather than saying focus on what all the different possible scenarios are for the crisis as you face, we say, every crisis has one of those four impacts or one or more of those four impacts. So if you plan for those four, then you can put them together in various combinations and be prepared to get at least a really good running start at any crisis that you could possibly face. So I think that, you know, if you kind of narrow it down to just those four things, you will have a really good program. If you put plans in place that support them. And, it's much less daunting task at the end of the day.
TJ Kuhny (08:12):
So Kim, what if I'm in the middle of trying to get this going? I'm trying to get my program going and then a crisis occurs and I'm really not fully ready. I haven't fully rolled out my program. What do you recommend?
Kim Hirsch (08:26):
Sure. Yeah, I, you know, I think that probably happens to a lot of people because it does take a certain amount of time to get a program really up and running. But I would say that something is always better than nothing. So, um, you know, if you build some basics that you can apply to most crisis situations. So I was just talking about the all hazards approach for example. You're going to have a running start that will help you shoot that most confusing time, the first hours, and sometimes the first days, uh, really those first hours of crisis are the most critical. And they're the hardest to with, because you're trying to figure out what's going on and what you're going to do about it. So just having those kind of basics in place and starting to build that muscle memory of how to think about how to respond to a crisis is going to help you out. Even if you don't have really thorough plans in place. The reality is that a lot of this is continuity planning is about kind of building those muscle memories when we learn how to think about crisis and response, and you can really apply those methods to whatever the situation is. And, most people after they've been doing it for a while, they're maybe not even looking at those spreadsheets or plans or, or what have you that they built. So that's why, you know, the actual process of planning and then doing, creating and using those plans via exercises is really important because you kind of start to think like a person who will understand the resiliency. So like me, for example, I was a crisis manager for quite a while, and I'm pretty confident that I could go into any business and be able to, without really understanding how their business works, except for the basics, be able to run an effective crisis response, because that's about understanding how crises work and how to communicate with other people. It isn't really about knowing how the widgets are made. So if you kind of get that discipline into your organization, you're going to find out that you're a lot better off than you thought that you were certainly better than if you just go into a crisis with no kind of preparation whatsoever.
TJ Kuhny (10:13):
So, Paula, I wanted to ask you one question. I know you're not really from the business continuity, continuity domain. We certainly talk to people all the time. You've built up a wealth of knowledge yourself, but what do you think the challenges are that people you're talking to are trying? It's like, they're trying to learn about a job that they didn't really sign up for. They're trying to make their company more resilient. What are the things that you hear of are sort of the challenges and how they try to face those to get started?
Paula Fontana (10:42):
Yeah, that's a great question. First and foremost, I think it's important to recognize that everybody is doing this to some extent in the business. I think, you know, recognizing that this is not something completely foreign to you, you know, you're always coming up with plan B, right? Even in your own personal life, coming up with those contingency plans and different scenarios that can happen and preparing for those things. When you think about it that way, it becomes less scary and more relatable too. And, thinking through how you really, everybody does this inherently, we all make thousands of small decisions on a daily basis with business continuity or risk in mind. And, the profession really stands to provide a structure for decision making and the right tools. Because if you think about it in that form, it kind of provides a useful model for learning more about the domain. The other thing I'll say, just in, in terms of both on a personal level and just working with other folks in the industry, as they've gotten up to speed, you know, learn from others in your organization, you know, learn from people in your network, follow other people in the industry and social media. There's a lot of people having really great conversations, follow thought leaders, follow advisory service providers, follow Fusion, of course, but definitely learn from others. There's a lot of great places to start with. One of the things that the event of the crisis that really ushered in a new era where this is kind of what is almost a household term, right? Everybody knows what that is now, whereas before that wasn't necessarily the case. And, then in terms of understand the ins and outs and where to start, you don't have to solve for everything out of the gate. You just think about those things that are most important to you as a team and most important to you as a business and solve for those things most immediately. And making sure that you're connecting with others in your business, really thinking collectively allows you to respond collectively.
TJ Kuhny (12:42):
Oh, that's really, really good advice. And very insightful. I appreciate that. It feels like, yeah, don't be afraid of this, this new world. Like you said, it's kind of people are hearing and all the time, and everyone's talking about it now and there's so much stuff out there to read and learn from. So, um, very cool to kind of get your perspective on this as well. And, and I guess to wrap it up, I just want to throw it back. Kim, in terms of just all the things you've mentioned, what do you think you would want our listener to really take away as sort of the starting point. What are the key things they should learn from today?
Kim Hirsch (13:16):
Yeah, so, so, you know, I think that that's a great way to wind it up. You know, um, I've been doing this for going on 20 years now, and this was the first time that people really seem to understand what it is that I do cause it's kind of a niche job, but I hope that signals that there are lots of companies that are really wanting to get serious about this and understanding the importance, which is just going to be fabulous for everybody at the end of the day. You know, first step is you're, you're listening to this podcast. You, you are saying to yourself, Hey, I want to get started in this. I think it's something important to focus on. So as I said, you know, if you can get to management to support to start, you know, make sure that the people at the top understand why it's important to have a really resilient business model in place, if you can get a policy around it, great. If not, you know, the thing to do again, is to kind of start thinking about what are my most important processes or services or what we provide to our customers or clients and how do I make them more resilient. As I said, kind of focused in on four potential hazard impacts, loss of workforce, loss of workplace, loss of technology, loss of vendor. If you just kind of start to get some thoughts around those impacts to your most vital parts of your business, you're going to be halfway there. So it's not quite as daunting as it seems. When you start, as Paula said, there's a lot of information out there that you can kind of get to kind of supplement this very basic introduction to it. One of the people that I worked for always said something that I found very true throughout my career, which is there's no competition in crisis. At that company we benchmarked with our competitors all the time when it came to crisis, because the important thing was that everybody was at the end of the day, we could get back to duking it out over business at some other point. But if there's a tornado, that's gone through a city, we want everybody in that city to be okay at the end of it. And, that's really what resiliency is about. So, you know, if you, if you're focusing on this, if you start building a plan, I'm confident that you're going to be much better off than, than you were without one. And, I look forward to maybe connecting with a lot of people to talk some of this out as you get started.
TJ Kuhny (15:18):
Wonderful. Yes, it's such a rewarding profession in a lot of ways, if you want to call it that just because you're helping really the company you're helping really, uh, you know, live up to the commitments that your customers expect. I find it exciting to be part of as well. So I just want to leave it there, wrap it up. Thank you, the listener, really for joining us on this episode of Resilience: Where to Start? On Building a More Resilient World. Look forward to talking to you on the next one.