It is not part of the human psyche to want to explore the nastier things in life.
We are by type optimistic, willing to turn a blind eye. We even have psychological processes, such as cognitive dissonance, that allow us to replay the facts and circumstances to justify our actions.
This and other aspects of being human create real challenges to Business Continuity Planning and creating engagement in the business to address it.
Different perspectives on threats and risk
Another complicating factor is our perception of risk. In a more primitive stage in our evolution, the male role was to protect the group, the female to care for it. This gave rise to different perspectives on threats and risk.
- The male was alert to the likelihood of threat or risk, and if the likelihood was high, then the males would respond and deal with it. If low, then it wouldn't register.
- The female perspective was geared towards the consequences of threats and risks, thus providing them with the ability to see potential issues and address them before they happened.
The female perspective would identify a host of things to worry about and, in response, the male perspective would be "it will never happen!"
For those that have read Professor Steve Peter's book The Chimp Paradox, you will be familiar with this concept - these are processes rooted deep in the limbic system of the brain (sometimes referred to as the Lizard Brain) which deals with our most basic functions - including Fight, Flight or Freeze. What is significant is that the drive to act is an emotional one.
Extrovert-ism and Introvert-ism
Another aspect of our personalities that comes into play here is Extrovert-ism and Introvert-ism.
Susan Cain in her book Quiet explains how Introverts and Extroverts have a different risk perception, which is linked to their capacity for detail. Extroverts who tend to be big picture thinkers, see less detail and so see less risk. Introverts the opposite. Their ability to look at the world in greater detail means they effectively see more. This explains why introverts tend towards caution, and Extroverts dive in headfirst.
Most people can relate to this difference between women and men and introverts/extroverts in their work and private lives, and it has been widely commented on that a systemic cause of the 2008 Financial Crisis was too many risk decisions being made without due consideration for the consequences - predominately by Extrovert Males, who had crowded out the nae-saying introverts.
One of the common internal barriers to Business Continuity is the attitude of "It will never happen".
On the flip-side, studies into the effectiveness of risk management teams have found that the most effective in developing operational risk management systems have a female-male mix of 40-60% - a balanced perspective.
These biases are also important in how we make decisions, whether it's buying into a concept process or deciding to buy something.
Essentially, we go through a four-stage process.
- The initial identification or awareness of a need or want,
- Identifying possible options,
- Rationalising those options for the optimum solution, and
- Making a decision.
Interestingly, stage three is based on the facts, but stage four we make with our emotions.
No one running a business or operation would question the logic of Business Continuity Planning, but few have the emotional experience that allows them to really ‘buy-in’ to the idea - or to generate employee engagement around said Business Continuity Planning.
So, how can you get around these human barriers to Business Continuity?
Engagement needs to be created at an emotional level, not just logical, and one of the ways of achieving this is by exposing the business to the consequences by running a Business Continuity Exercise.
Properly facilitated and constructed with a relevant scenario, particularly one that exposes weaknesses within the business and then the consequences of this, both the financial and human, business and personal, can give those involved a taste of what a crisis unravelling around them would feel like - creating an emotional experience of Business Continuity and therefore a stronger driver for buying into the Business Continuity plan.
It will also show how the different personalities in your Business Continuity Team respond to a crisis scenario.
- Drivers/Reds/D's will experience a loss of control of their world and surroundings, and potentially an inability to act and make decisions because of a lack of preparedness.
- Expressives/Yellows/I's can be thrown into a state of disarray as their image, reputation and relationships are put under threat.
- Amiables/Greens/S's will feel great discomfort at the loss of certainty and impact this will have on people.
- Analytics/Blues/C's are likely to become defensive particularly if their own inaction or failures have exacerbated the consequences.
More information on Business Continuity Planning
If Business Continuity Planning is on your priority list right now, then our team can help ensure you get the most out of it; get in touch for a discussion.