Platt Perspective on Business and Technology

Operational failure rates, feedback and remediation, and risk remediation processes 4

Posted in strategy and planning by Timothy Platt on October 22, 2012

This is my third posting to a series on planning for and building operationally more robust business systems (see Business Strategy and Operations – 2, postings 323 and loosely following.) And in the course of developing this series I have discussed operationally robust systems (see Part 2) and strategically robust systems (see Part 3), where both are characterized by flexibility in the face of change, and capacity to learn and evolve. But as noted at the end of Part 3, events and circumstances can develop that could not be predicted and sometimes even the most careful planning and execution can fail, leading to realized systems fragility. My goal in this posting is to address that, and robust strategic and operational response to crisis.

I am going to follow this series with one explicitly on crisis management and will be entering into a more systematically detailed discussion of that there. So my goal here is rather limited – fitting crisis management per se into a larger and ongoing operational and strategic framework, and more specifically into the type of conceptual and business systems taxonomic framework that I am presenting here in this series. And I begin by noting a fundamental set of observations:

• With time and even with the most careful and insightful planning and preparation, crises will happen.
• Crisis management may deal with and seek to resolve extreme and unplanned for situations and events, but effective crisis management is not and should not be viewed as ad hoc in nature, and certainly not in how crises are identified, understood and responded to.
• Effective crisis management response calls for planning and preparation, and for systematic approaches that are in effect pre-positioned and available for use – so they can be followed and used and the crisis can be directly addressed and without avoidable false starts or delays.
• So crisis management per se needs to be a part of the basic plan and even if this means general, more open-ended planning considerations. Cause of crisis might not be predictable. But areas of potential impact and vulnerability can be identified in advance and planning to augment or recover them can be developed, and with allowance for more open-ended causation as to how this might become necessary.
• And all of this should fit into any business systems that this planning, and any crisis management follow-through would functionally connect with.

And that is what I would discuss here – putting crisis management into a larger systems framework and making it work there. And my focus for that and for this posting is how crisis management connects into the basic fragile and robust systems alternatives that I have been discussing up to here.

• The more operationally and strategically fragile a business’ systems, the more likely it will face the challenges of crisis and a need for crisis management.
• Robust systems, by their very nature plan for and are resilient to a wider range of events and circumstances, and offer more flexible and nuanced approaches for dealing with them, and strictly within business as usual constraints and approaches. Fragile systems prepare for less and are more easily blindsided into crisis as a result – consider this a matter of their falling into what should be avoidable crises.

And this leads directly to a logically connected point:

• Robust systems are more flexible in taking the unexpected in stride and in not having to respond to them as crises. They can identify problems earlier, among other capabilities, so emerging problems are less likely to reach crisis proportion and they can more effectively address them early too, once emerging problems are identified.
• And I add that robust systems are easier frameworks to work from when developing pre-planned crisis management systems and crisis response capabilities.

So in my crisis management series, I am primarily going to be focusing on building and executing from them in the context of operationally and strategically robust day to day business systems. And a big part of preparing for the worst, should it arise, is to develop effective operational and strategic robustness in basic ongoing systems in advance too. And with that I conclude this posting and this series.

You can find this and related postings at Business Strategy and Operations – 2 (and also see Business Strategy and Operations.)

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