My job is nothing. If I do my job well, nothing happens. I don’t want anybody to need anything I’ve worked on. In other words, I’m a business continuity planner and if I’ve done my job correctly, I’ve mitigated problem areas and made them non-issues. How boring.
The only times I want anyone to look at my business continuity plans are during a maintenance review or an exercise. I don’t ever want to have anyone at my company need to have to use my business continuity plan. That’s why I work so hard to make everything a non-issue.
What is a non-issue? Y2K was a non-issue. Was it because everyone hyped up the threats of Y2K? Not exactly. Sure, there was some hype. We needed to get your attention; otherwise we wouldn’t have been given the okay to work on Y2K. A lot of time and effort (and yes, money) did go into making sure that Y2K didn’t become an issue. This was mitigation planning at its finest.
Every day, budgeting concerns put the good continuity planner’s job at risk. Why budget for disaster planning when we never experience a disaster? Why should we spend all this time and effort scaring people about the bird flu when it will be a non-event? All you people are paranoid. Because of people like you, I bought a year’s supply of bread and water for Y2K, stockpiled my bunker with ammunition, and nothing happened. The lights didn’t go off, planes didn’t fall to the ground. Global network collapse, nuclear plant meltdowns, and riots didn’t happen. How boring.
The bird flu is nothing but a conspiracy. The media hype is fueled by suppliers of survival supplies and the greeting card industry. My personal opinion is that this is all hype started by the beef industry, still stinging from mad cow disease, and the pork industry, who want people to stop eating chicken.
I’m sorry, but it’s just not going to work. You get sick and Mom pops up with, what else? Chicken soup.
I mean, this bird flu thing really does have merit. Who among us hasn’t thought about a way to cull Big Bird and all his friends? And we all know the reason the chicken crossed the road was to infect us all. And pigeons? What statue lover hasn’t wanted to turn the tide against those park bench-sitters feeding those rats with wings and slip in a little arsenic among their treats?
Today we hear about bird flu. And, of course, you hear a lot of talk today from C-level management saying that they don’t want to fund another non-event like Y2K. Again, mitigation and planning made Y2K a non-event. So why should the bird flu be any different? Y2K was easier to plan for because you knew exactly when it would occur. Not so with pandemics. You might know it’s coming, but exactly when it will hit is not set in stone.
Predicting good news makes you popular, especially when it comes true! Predicting bad news is a thankless job. I wish I had a surefire quatrain from Nostradamus that would predict exactly when an event would happen, but I don’t. Don’t get me wrong, Nostradamus clearly spoke about the Avian flu. How could you interpret anything else from the following?
"The terrible plague of disease in the maritime city,
Does not stop until there is avenged the death
Of the just, who were sentenced for a price although innocent,
Of the Great Lady unwronged."
The Avian flu strikes the Pacific Fleet in San Diego,
We all tried to warn you it was coming, so don’t say I didn’t warn you
You denied continuity planners the budgets to prepare,
Thankfully, Mom saved the day with homemade chicken soup.
Sure, some claims about Y2K might have been excessive, and there are some claims about the bird flu that may, in time, prove excessive. But we have to look at and plan for the worst-case scenario.
This bird flu promises a much higher death rate than the 1918 pandemic because of three critical factors: a global transportation network allows rapid spread of the flu, it is a new strain for which we have no immunity, and migratory birds could carry Avian flu to all corners of the earth.
Preparing for the Avian flu will not be wasted. If we don’t get hit with a pandemic this year, history tells us that we will eventually be hit, and there’s nothing wrong with being prepared, even if we have to wait a little longer for the event to strike. Another success story. Another non-event. Another nothing job. How boring.
Ron Fauset, CBCP, is a board member of the San Diego Chapter of the Association of Contingency Planners and is the director of publications. He has conducted mock disaster drills at financial institution seminars for clients.
"Appeared in DRJ's Winter 2007 Issue"