Lately, I have seen no shortage of articles discussing ways in which to garner executive leadership support for contingency planning programs. Getting executive support and buy-in has been somewhat of an obsession for contingency planners for some time now, and seeing these articles arise continuously has made me question why those in our field have been discussing this topic for eons, while gaining support from executives continues to elude. Though I understand that a base level of support is necessary in order to establish and fund a program, support and involvement not required on an ongoing basis to develop and operate an effective program. In fact, I often wonder if the issue here is twofold - a. professionals in our field are confusing “support” with “involvement of executives in day-to-day decision making” and b. professionals in our field have never truly considered why ongoing executive support is required, as far as they are concerned, it just is.
I would argue that only a base level of support from executives is required to effectively operate any contingency planning program. In fact, I would suggest that, based on experience, executives will respect any individual and any contingency planning team more if they have been able to connect with and provide valuable services to middle managers and employees. My argument is simply this – contingency planners may be more productive, valued, and respected within their organizations if time were spent offering valuable services and guidance to the organization as opposed to spending much of their time preparing reports for and seeking the blessing of executives. Spending time justifying your existence to executives will only get you so far before questions are asked, whereas those spending this same time working with those involved in the business will ultimately be able to prove their true worth, and integrate themselves in the day-to-day life of the organization.
Are we at a crossroads? Should “gathering executive buy-in” be removed from best practices and replaced with “integrating with and meeting the needs of middle management” ? Should gathering executive support continue to be a core key practice but redefined? Or should we continue with the status quo, spending endless hours seeking buy-in and praise from those at the highest levels?
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