Dr Sandra Bell, CEO The Business Resilience Company
Sandra has over 30 years’ experience working in organisational crisis management and resilience – including a spell blowing stuff up in the name of science. She started with a bang by explaining how businesses should manage operational disruptions; that they must be able to prevent, adapt, respond, recover – and learn from the challenges faced.
So how has Covid-19 impacted crisis management? To say we are experiencing complexity in the risk landscape at present is an understatement – from widespread economic uncertainty to hyperextended supply chains. Operational disruptions are, therefore, spiralling into strategic, financial and even existential threats to the organisation. Without effective resilience programmes in place, a business’s strategic options are limited, depriving them of the skill, will and grit needed to survive.
This brought us back to the all-important question: will Covid-19 lead to a reframing of Operational Resilience in the boardroom? Sandra thinks it will. To achieve this, she believes business continuity, disaster recovery, risk management, security and normal operations must be integrated under the operational resilience umbrella – and they must work together across three fronts: strong leadership and culture, robust yet flexible operations and a support network.
Michael Rasmussen, GRC Analyst and Pundit
GRC Supper Club was GRC Lunch Club for our second speaker, Michael Rasmussen who joined us from the US. Michael began by explaining how the Covid-19 pandemic is fundamentally a health and safety risk, and how its rapid spread echoes the chaos theory – only the butterfly has become a bat in this context. The escalation of the global health crisis has seen it spawn a multitude of other risks: economic, IT security – is the digital blender in the home office a doorway into your company’s data? – workplace harassment, fraud, bribery and corruption…the list goes on.
The Covid-19 crisis is likely to focus more attention on operational resilience across industries, leading to a more integrated approach that brings business continuity and operational risk together. But why hasn’t this happened sooner? Some risk professionals are claiming that the Covid-19 pandemic is a black swan. However, Michael believes that anyone claiming it was an unforeseen event is probably making excuses for their lack of planning and foresight – after all, global pandemics are nothing new.
Take the Titanic for example. The captain (the ships CEO if you will) and the ship’s designer fuelled press reports that it was “unsinkable” – so no one questioned why there was insufficient safety equipment onboard. Unfortunately, this confidence couldn’t prevent the ship from sinking on its maiden voyage, resulting in a huge loss of life. How often are businesses overconfident when it comes to risk? Don’t adopt a ‘what could possibly go wrong’ approach, plan for every eventuality.
James Green, Dir. Risk Advisory, SAI Global
The seven-hour time difference meant our second speaker in the US was armed with a fresh coffee, rather than a pint of bitter like Lee – and this showed in his clarity of thought. James believes that business continuity in the pre-Covid-19 world was merely a box-ticking exercise. Rather than developing and implementing meaningful programmes, organisations were simply producing piles of risk documentation that was gathering digital dust. This created a disconnect that prevented them from mitigating risk effectively and devalued business continuity.