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Nov 01
2013

University Challenge

Posted by: Andy Osborne in DRJ Blogs

Andy Osborne

By Andy Osborne, Consultancy Director at Acumen

We recently reached a significant milestone in the Oz family history, when we transported number one son (number one as in the sequence in which they arrived, as opposed to any order of preference, I hasten to add) with a car chock-full of his gear, to his chosen university in Manchester, some 120 miles from home.

It would be churlish of me to mention that, with just two hours to go before our planned leaving time, it came to light that some important stuff that he needed to take with him had been lent to friends, so I won't. Suffice it to say that, despite my and Mrs Oz's strenuous, vociferous and repeated efforts over the preceding weeks to ensure it didn't happen, there was an unwelcome amount of last minute frenzied activity and associated stress.

Despite that, we somehow managed to arrive at our allotted time, whereupon we unloaded about three tons of stuff - computer equipment, guitars, food, crockery and kitchen utensils, clothes, cleaning materials, toiletries and other sundry items (in order of importance to your average male eighteen-year-old - or mine at any rate) - and somehow managed to shoe-horn it all into the very nice but not exactly spacious room that will be my son's home for the next year.

We spent the next couple of hours trying to get his computer to work (see also "Never work with children or animals - or technology"), failed miserably, eventually gave up and went for something to eat instead. Several days later, the problem remained unresolved, despite the application of the finest technical brainpower available to us. And I'm sure you can imagine the consternation and sense of desolation of a teenager deprived of internet access for longer than five minutes.

So we came up with a cunning plan and shipped another PC up to him last week, which involved another round-trip of 240-odd miles, a bill for lunch and a further unanticipated lightening of my wallet for a pair of shoes, a desk fan, a guitar tuner and several other previously unidentified but clearly essential expenses. At least the problem was resolved.

Back at Chez Oz, it's suddenly a whole lot quieter. Number two son (in the order that they arrived, etc) is still with us but the 33% reduction in the overall testosterone level has definitely resulted in a corresponding reduction in background noise vis-à-vis the frequency of impromptu ranting and stomping around. Incidentally, I haven't included Barney in the above statistic as he has somewhat less of a problem with said hormone, for reasons that I won't go into here so as not to appear indelicate. In any case, there are some subtle differences between a testosterone-laden teenage lad and a spaniel - namely that the latter tends to be less stroppy and argumentative, although some of the other characteristics might arguably be similar.

Because of the way my mind works, I couldn't help but think of a few parallels with some of the business continuity management issues that I come across from time to time. For instance : 

• Things change. So we have to modify our plans accordingly. And, when we activate them, we have to be prepared to modify them "on the fly" if they don't quite fit the prevailing situation;

• It's dangerous to assume that others are planning to the level that we think (or at least hope) they are, so we really ought to check from time to time;

• If we don't plan and prepare properly, we can leave ourselves open to unforeseen difficulties and put ourselves under increased pressure;

• The best time to find out that something's missing is before, not after, you've activated your plans and are in the proverbial heat of battle;

• When things don’t go to plan there’s often a price to be paid.

I'm pleased to report that number one son seems to have settled in pretty well to university life, at least if the number of parties he's been to so far is anything to go by. And his beloved internet connection is now working again so he no longer feels like his right arm has been cut off. Just to prove that all was OK we did a Skype call last night, and to my amazement all the technology actually worked first time without any glitches whatsoever. Now that makes a nice change.

 

Originally posted on "Oz's Business Continuity Blog" site at www.acumen-bcp.co.uk/blog