Ask the Expert: As organizations strive to return to business as usual, they face several competing priorities. How can companies evaluate where to focus their efforts?

Operational Resiliency

David Pearson, Co-Founder and CTO of Iceberg Networks discusses another key question he hears from organizations about enterprise business resiliency. The following is an edited transcript of the conversation.

As organizations strive to return to business as usual, they face several competing priorities. How can companies evaluate where to focus their efforts?

Focusing your efforts in an abnormal situation is both very difficult and easy to do at the same time. Most business leaders have a strong intuitive sense of how to manage their business and where the priorities are in that crisis situation. Lean very heavily on good leadership as something that needs to come through in a crisis situation and going into recovery. Good leadership also relies heavily on good information. We recommend taking a risk-based approach to how you prioritize your activities. If you think you need to recover a work facility ahead of some other telecommunications infrastructure, you really need to look at how it all plays together. Having an understanding of the dependencies between the various processes and facilities and how they operate is critical, as well as being able to place value on the various components that might go into delivering the business process.

Can you elaborate a little more on this new normal and what this means?

With the COVID-19 crisis, a lot of organizations have been in crisis mode since March 2020 and we haven’t come out of it. We’re 6 months into crisis operations, so in many ways, we’re already in that “new normal” state. If I go back to “why is resilience important?” you need to maintain your business through the crisis scenario and that might be much longer term than you are expecting. The long-term crisis essentially becomes the new normal and now you have to consider “how do I manage this crisis situation?” but also, “how do I enable all facets of my business so that I’m able to meet all of my commitments during this new normal?”

Where you may have had getting people working and getting manufacturing lines flowing as a recovery scenario, as your return to normal plan is being deferred, your return to normal may actually be “embrace what’s new.” You need to look at “do I have all of my business elements working?” If the priority was to return to service, and we’ve achieved that, I need to ask, “am I compliant? Am I meeting my audit requirements? Am I meeting all of my other commitments to regulators and to my partner businesses?”

What you had as a business continuity or business resilience program has you identifying that you want to return to normal but you may not be able to get back to that same state that you were before the crisis. It becomes important to be able to adjust your plan, back to, “who is going to be able to make those decisions?” It has to be a business leadership decision. It’s a strategic decision to embrace whatever situation is available to you and make the best of it.

The return to normal has a fair bit of business leadership, human intuition and sense that needs to go into getting the business back on track. That doesn’t just mean a formulaic check box of the things that mean we’re back to normal. It may actually mean a re-definition of the business.  

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