Overlooked Risk Realizations

Risk realization defines the ability of an organization to recognize threats, vulnerabilities and hazards and understand how those risks impact successful operations. Too often, a company may recognize risks, but may not always see or understand the complexities or interdependencies of risk on a broad or more global scale. Decisions are made at an executive level to prevent, mitigate, and control risks, however there may be unintended or negative consequences of the decisions. Regardless of the decision and actions taken to manage the risk(s), there will be an altered state of risk following the action(s). It’s important for company risk managers and executives to keep informed about the modified impacts due to altered risk states. [1]

An example of risk realization gone wrong is the recent BP oil spill. The media has reported that BP Oil company has developed many risk scenarios across multiple risk models. Yet, they apparently were totally unprepared to contain, control, and manage a spill of the magnitude experienced in the gulf this year.

An example of risk realization gone right is the frequent food recalls we seen on a regular basis across the food manufacturing industry. Beef, pork, chicken, dried foods, vegetables and more are often reported on a recall due to either salmonella or e.coli bacteria found in one or more lots. The food manufactures quickly identity the lot, product codes, shipment, factory station, and component source (eg. farm) and take immediate actions. Alerts are issued, notifications for recall with key data about the products are made, investigations are launched into the method by which the contamination occurred, and the ‘all clear’ is issued that says something to the effect of all the rest of the food products are fine, the contaminated food in question has been eliminated from the distribution chain, and we can all go back to eating what we choose. Unfortunately, the incidence of food contamination seems too high and too frequent.

The food companies appear to realize their risks and the confluence of multiple risks occurring at the same time, and have a plan in placed ready for execution.  While the brand may be temporarily tarnished, the masses of consumers do eventually return to eating what they want when they want it.

The key to mature risk realization seems to be that an organization is practicing a less myopic and more broadly considered view of the risk model and applying critical thinking to that model. That seems to be a recipe for success. [2]

References:

[1] Sikich, Geary. (2008). “The World of Risks and Opportunities“. Norwich University MSBC Seminar 4 Lecture Week 8, 2010

[2] Ibid.

The Impact of Clean Energy Policies on a Company’s Energy Policies

I write this to you from the comfort of my evaporative-cooled home on a hot summer afternoon somewhere in the United States. The personal computer hums quietly in the background as I sip coffee and set the cup back down on my cup warmer. The small desk lamp lights my reference material and other incidentals on my office desk. I’ll shower soon after my work-out and enjoy the warm water on my back. Later I will drive a gas-powered automobile to return family visitors to the airport for their ride home two hours away by plane and then I will complete my round trip 110 miles ride home, perhaps stopping off at a coffee shop for an iced espresso. Those machines produce great steam to careful brew the coffee, heh. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg of how much energy we consume daily. What about you? What about businesses that produce all of our goods and services, who employ us and ‘make the world go ’round’?

OK, my dilemma is I also support a global effort to decrease our negative impact on the earth from man-made activities and dependence on non-renewable polluting energy sources. I am trying to reduce my carbon footprint (but frankly I’m not convinced Gore’s work is sentinel).

As companies and businesses struggle with being ‘clean’ and still conducting vital business and the delivery of services we all require/want/need/like, there is an inherent risk. That risk is understanding and managing the complexities and dichotomies of clean and healthy vs profitable and responsible.[1]

It’s going to cost someone, somewhere, a large amount of cash to adhere to the increased energy restrictions and controls as a result of proposed legislation. [2]  There will be adherence rules that provide allowances for energy companies to be subsidized to achieve the 2012-2025 clean energy goals. However, there is proposed direction that those allowanced must eventually be transferred to the customers (energy users, like us). [3]

Back to the complexity issue. The myriad of interdependencies seems beyond my current understanding. In the Global Risks 2009 report (Economic Forum 2009) 36 risks were assessed and evaluated to determine likelihood, severity, and anticipated number of deaths. Looking narrowing at just the environmental category we find some examples of impact in the following table:

Table:

“# Environmental Risks Likelihood Severity

20 Extreme climate change-related weather

As the effects of climate change have begun to manifest themselves in weather events, this risk remains constant year on year but given that many of these incidents affect developing regions the number of deaths is likely to rise.

21 Droughts and desertification reduces agricultural yields
As the incidence of drought has risen, production has shifted where possible to less drought-prone areas or to more drought-resistant crops. Nonetheless, desertification remains a risk to incomes and health in vulnerable regions.

22 Loss of freshwater

Greater awareness and education and improved sanitation is slightly reducing the number of deaths but overall this risk is constant in terms of likelihood and severity.

23 Natural catastrophe: cyclone

Improved building standards and better warning information have to contributed to reducing loss of life from cyclones but the risk remains constant for relevant areas.

24 Natural catastrophe: earthquake

The threat of earthquakes remains the same as they are driven by geophysics. Improved building standards and response mechanisms are slightly reducing their impact.

25 Natural catastrophe: inland flooding

This risk rose over previous years, primarily due to flood plain development and an expected increase in climate change-related weather events but remains constant from 2008 to 2009.” [4]

In the balance, I believe that forward movement mean continuing to evaluate risks associated with adhering to energy policies, supporting or dissuading those policies based on a balance of overall good vs untenable costs, and never giving up on the need to find new ways to produced energy – ways which do not pollute the earth and still provide what’s necessary for mankind to survive and thrive.

References:

[1] Weirich, Tom, (June 2010). “Clean Energy Leaders Meet at First Global Clean Energy Ministerial Stakeholder Meeting; Declare Need for World Governments to Align to Ramp Up Clean Energy Deployment“, ACORE. Retrieved 7-25-10: http://www.usgbc.org/Docs/News/CEMSM.pdf

[2] Larsen, John, (July 2009),  “A Closer Look at the American Clean Energy and Security Act“. Retrieved 7-25-10: http://www.wri.org/stories/2009/07/closer-look-american-clean-energy-and-security-act

[3] Larsen. Ibid

[4] Economic Forum, “Global Risks 2009“, The World Economic Forum Report, Citigroup, Mash & McLennan, Swiss Re, Wharton School Risk Center, Zurich Financial Services, January 2009

Bibliography:

Sikich, Geary. (2008). “ The World of Risks and Opportunities “. Norwich University MSBC Seminar 4 Lecture Week 8, 2010

A Framework for Competitive Intelligence

Between 2008 and 2018, health care will generate more jobs than any other industry (approximately 3.2 million), primarily as a result of the aging population; healthcare occupations are also among the fastest growing with over 50% new occupations being in health care.[1] The question is, will one Colorado hospital be in business to participate in this growth.

To remain viable in a highly competitive market, hospitals will need to create strategies that stand up to the continued financial pressures of the industry. Competitive intelligence must be part of those strategies. Since all hospitals are on nearly the same playing field, the challenge is to differentiate based on real, relevant, timely, and useful data.

This paper briefly describes what competitive intelligence is, then proposes a competitive intelligence initiative along with suggestions for a structural framework, scope, and individual skills and tools necessary to be successful.

What is Competitive Intelligence?

To ignore our environment or practice superficial reviews of our competition will surely keep us at a disadvantage. The risk to our business viability increases and our competitive advantage decreases without a constant vigil according to a systematic strategy.

Competitive intelligence is being alert for reliable information, gathering that information, and knowing what to do with it.  The process can include the collection, organization, analysis, understanding, interpretation and development of information which helps an organization differentiate itself from its competitors and reduce the risk of unknown actionable strategies. Johnson (2010) defines competitive intelligence as “… the purposeful and coordinated monitoring of your competitor(s), wherever and whoever they may be, within a specific marketplace.” [2]

We must understand what types of external events may impact our organization and what to do to prevent that impact. Next, collection of data is worthless without relevance, so we must convert the data into intelligent, relevant information. That involves collating, organizing, and integrating this new information with other related data points. Analysis should be performed by competent and trained strategist who understand both the big picture and the details. Finally, in order for the data to become useful and a competitive advantage, we must know how to interpret and communicate our findings.

Question types should address both the internal and external environments. The answers to these questions will change overtime, thus a repeatable, yet flexible process is necessary to ensure our information is relevant and current. Goodman suggests the following, not exhaustive, list:

________________________________________________________________________

“Corporate Picture, Focus: Company & Competitors

  • When did this company begin? How did it develop?
  • Who leads this company?
  • What are this company’s plans?
  • What does expert opinion say about the company?
  • Who are the leading competitors?

Industry Environment

  • How did this industry begin? Major developments?
  • How are products made? Components relied upon?
  • Any multi-industrial linkages?
  • What technological developments will affect this industry?
  • How do I update these analyses?

Socio-Political Environment

  • What government or industry regulations affect operations?
  • What current or pending legislation will be affecting operations?
  • What market changes affect operations?
  • What economic indicators would affect operations?
  • What market barriers exist in U.S.? Internationally?” [3]

________________________________________________________________________

Collectively, these types of questions can help keep a ‘finger on the pulse’ (no pun intended) of the hospital industry and marketplace.

Why is an Initiative Needed?

The hospital has experienced over a 20% reduction in outpatient cases since the beginning of the recession in 2008.[4] Sawyer (2006) indicates that hospital care is shifting from inpatient to outpatient.[5]

Challenges faced by the hospital are many and developing dynamic strategies to anticipate market risks is certainly a priority. Some examples of market risks include:

  • Physicians deciding on the flow of patients, many times without the patient making a choice
  • Managed care contracts dictating approved hospital (vendor) lists including agreeing or not to what types of procedures can be done by which doctors at which locations. (This one boggles the mind!)
  • Governmental regulations at both the state and federal level can affect the hospital’s accreditation and ability to market to new audiences (due to privacy laws etc)
  • The advent of the outpatient clinics (not all are connected with a local hospital) can take away business more so during a down economy

Many of these challenges represent a risk to the financial stability of the hospital and the business of the hospital may be in jeopardy, at least in the short term.

Initiative

The purpose of the competitive intelligence initiative is to protect the hospital from risks that may permanently impact the viability of the business and which help achieve the stated mission.

A successful competitive intelligence initiative encompasses a holistic view of the hospital and works in concert with and support of the mission, vision, and goals.  This is accomplished by successfully implementing a protection system that proactively monitors, collects, and communicates information to decision makers who can respond in a timeframe that mitigates the risk and/or creates an opportunity to promote the business.

The initiative scope is all internal and external risks to the hospital business.

The initiative should include these primary elements:

  1. Awareness and commitment of senior staff
  2. Identification of risk area that could most impact the business viability
  3. Formation of objectives to be accomplished including how to use the intelligence information when it is obtained
  4. Institutionalize the process, obtain the tools (software, metrics, mechanisms to collect data, etc), and select individuals with the key skills necessary to accomplish the objectives.
  5. Perform the actual gathering, storing, organizing, and reporting of the data become information taking into account event timing, currency of the information, and a process exception that allows for quick actions (the latter is particularly useful to manage disinformation and protect intellectual property or brand image).
  6. Communication of information to only the people with a need to know who are equipped to understand, interpret, and take action as needed
  7. Follow up and revitalization of the process in a way that considers new and emerging threats to the business.

Sikich (2003) recommends ten key actions to a company can take now and many of these are easily applied in the hospital business: [6]

  1. “Make your enterprise an unattractive target
  2. Revise employee screening processes
  3. Validate business, community, and government contracts
  4. Assess business continuity plans
  5. Train and education your workforce
  6. Equip your workforce
  7. Review leases and contracts for risk exposure
  8. Assess value-chain exposure to supply disruptions
  9. Review insurance policies and conduct cost/benefit analysis
  10. Communicate commitment”

The basic organizational structure should include representative members of the key staff and those who have a value to offer the process. In the case of the hospital, this should include the following identified individuals(by title only):

  1. CFO
  2. VP Technology
  3. Medical Director
  4. Director of Information Systems
  5. Safety Manager
  6. Associated staff of each above as needed to perform the data process steps
  7. Others as identified by the CEO

The general set of skills required by the team collectively includes project management, data analysis, metrics and statistics, marketing and business development, the ability to apply differential analysis of alternatives, and adept decision-making skills.

The above represents a preliminary suggestion to begin the dialogue necessary to complete a full competitive intelligence initiative.

Conclusion

The challenges facing the hospital industry may cause some to incur significant financial impacts. Understanding what those impacts are, how they are caused, and what preparations can help mitigate or reduce the effects can be accomplished with a robust competitive intelligence system.

Citations

[1] US Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, (Feb 2010). Retrieved 7-17-10: http://www.bls.gov/oco/cg/cgs035.htm

[2] Johnson, Arik R., (2010). “What is Competitive Intelligence?“. Aurora WDC consultancy. Retrieved 7-16-10: http://www.aurorawdc.com/whatisci.htm

[3] Goodman, Richard A., (Jan 2010). “Competitive Intelligence“. Retrieved 7-16-10: http://www.anderson.ucla.edu/x14441.xml#A-1

[4] VP finance, Anonymous Colorado Hospital, Interviewed by Andy Amalfitano October 2009

[5] Sawyer, Mike, (Jan 2006). “Competitive Intelligence in the Healthcare Industry-Part One“. Southern Regional Health System. Retrieved 7-17-10: http://www.directionsmag.com/article.php?article_id=2087

[6] Sikich, Geary, W., 2003. “Integrated Business Continuity-Maintaining Resilience in Uncertain Times“. Penwell Corp Oklahoma 57-58, 138-139, Chapter 8

References

Apgar, David, 2006. “Risk Intelligence- Learning to Manage What We Don’t Know”. Harvard Business School Press Boston 51-52

Aware Inc. “A Brief Guide to Competitive Intelligence“. Aware Inc, Retrieved 7-17-10: http://www.marketing-intelligence.co.uk/resources/competitor-analysis.htm

Top 5 Financial Risk Impacts

Financial risk is ubiquitous across all businesses, some more than others. By definition, the financial sector experiences risk as a part of its routine operational mission. However, all businesses even those not in the financial sector may incur financial risk as a result of business interruptions.

My guess at the top five (5) most critical financial risk exposures companies face today are:

  1. Unstable economy
    • Changes in investment practices, regulations, fickle consumer spending, fall off in need for durable goods, failed banks, small businesses unable to get loans, high unemployment, all precipitous to market collapses (at least partial)
  2. Supply chain unpredictability
    • Unstable emerging markets – e.g. Factory workers in China return to home provinces and stay home due to influx of government stimulus money into local regions. Factory idle, supply chain is disrupted.
    • Increase in costs to manufacture overseas
  3. Service interruption
    • Loss of vital infrastructures due to natural hazards or intentional acts that disrupt power, water, and other utilities.
    • Lack of appropriate business continuity or disaster planning by over 40% of the (small) businesses in America today. [1]
  4. Pandemics
    • There have been five significant pandemic outbreaks during the past 100 years with hundreds of millions of people losing their lives.[2]
    • Pandemics are unpreventable, however, there are steps to be taken to minimize impact.
    • Some pandemic plans sit collecting dust on shelves.
    • The long-term recovery could take 2-5 years [3]
  5. Stock market crash
    • Could be related to the other risks I present here, but also could be unrelated.
    • Purposeful manipulation of stocks and bonds [4]

In contrast, Sikich (2003) offers a list of risk exposures many business may face, including:

  • Business Interruption
  • Contingent Business Interruption
  • Extra Expense
  • Civil Authority
  • Service Interruption
  • Ingress/Egress [5]

With each of these insipient risks exposures comes the challenge for each business to better understand not only the immediate impacts but the long-term financial impacts. Much more needs to be done across all industries to be prepared and hedge for inevitable financial risks.

References:

[1]  Berthiaume, Marc, (2008). “Is your business prepared for disaster?”. Retrieved 7-19-10:  http://www.nhbr.com/business/technology/379589-283/is-your-business-prepared-for-disaster.html

[2]  CNN. (2003). “Recent flu outbreak mild compared to past pandemics“. Retrieved 7-19-10: http://www.cnn.com/2003/HEALTH/12/10/flu.history/index.html

[3] Sikich, Geary, “Protecting Your Business in a Pandemic-Plans, Tools, and Advice for Maintaining business Continuity“. Westport CT, London 2008

[4]  Barker, Bill, (2007) “Three Forces Behind a Market Crash“. Retrieved 7-19-10: http://www.fool.com/investing/general/2007/05/08/the-3-forces-behind-a-market-crash.aspx

[5] Sikich, Geary. (2008). “Financial Risk“. Norwich University MSBC Seminar 4 Lecture Week 7, 2010

Why are some of us so poor at Measuring Risk?

People (we) are generally poor at measuring risk. We have dozens of useful statistical tools at our disposal, we collect lots of data, or in some cases, we pour over data and discuss with our ‘experts’, or we just read the news and form (uninformed) ideas about what is reality. Then in business we make decisions that affect our company and its future. This approach is the norm. Why is this so?

News media needs to sell and attract and it seems to do so with one-liners that grab attention. I find often that those one liners are quite misleading and rarely based on all the facts. Further, even when facts or data are the foundation of an article, basic statistics sometimes ignored.

For example, in the early days of our recent major economic decline, the NY Times (2009) reported that “the American economy is contracting at its steepest pace in 50 years“. Subsequent in the article it was stated that economists are predicting  “…the worst of the recession might have passed” due to a recent rise (then in early 2009) in consumer spending.” [1]

One month, one data point, and things are getting better?  I think not! It is precisely this inane, unsubstantiated rhetoric that feeds the misinformation pipeline and clouds the already unknowns of risk.

Without a trend (in process control, we sometimes considered at least 5-7 data points in a direction to be a trend), each data point taken by itself is meaningless toward predicting with an certainty what will come next in the chain.

The other salient explanation for why people and businesses are generally poor at measuring risk is the unknown nature of catastrophic risk and our inability to apply systematic tools to that unknown. In reading roundtable proceedings from the Wharton School (2005) I was amazed to learn how accurate some of the comments were from noted experts in the fields of financial policymaking, banking, venture capital, insurance, and asset management. [2]  During the roundtable session on financial policymaking, Sir Andrew Crockett offered the opinion that despite making ‘great strides’ in advancing the knowledge about managing risks, the unknown and unknowable present outcomes that simply cannot be predicted and that the statistics change over time. [3]

In the human resources recruiting arena, we often say that past performance is a very good indicator of future success. Not so in the financial risk world. In the opinion of more than one expert at the roundtable, (Crockett for sure) the past is not considered a good predictor of the future. Therefore, I think that critical financial risk exposures plague organizations over and over again simply because of the unknown nature of the most consequential hazards and events.

Apgar (2006) provides us with a number of very useful risk measurement tools. These along with other systematic methods of risk assessment can help businesses more accurately understand at least the known exposures to risk.

References:

[1] Uchitelle, Louis and Andrews, Edmund L., (April 2009). “Economy Decline in Quarter Exceeds Forecast“.  NY Times. Retrieved 7-19-10: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/30/business/economy/30econ.html

[2] The Wharton School, “Financial Risk Management in Practice: The Known, The Unknown and the Unknowable“. a roundtable summary; Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, Mercer Oliver Wyman Institute 2005, 3-4

[3] Wharton, et al, Ibid

[4] Apgar, David. “Risk Intelligence-Learning to Manage What We Don’t Know“. Harvard Business School Press, Boston 2006

Silo Oranizations and Risk

Silos are basically large vertical buildings that separate and store material on a farm. When referring to  organizations, a silo means that one department is not necessarily considering how their function impacts another within the same company. The larger the organization typically the more silos.

Within a company, even a small company, silos can be created. Many times silos are not knowingly are willfully created, it just happens. Well-meaning, hard-working employees and managers set out to fulfill their mission – to get the job done. We all know how that is and often don’t have time to worry about or communicate with the other departments, especially if there really doesn’t appear to be any direct connection.[1]

Example: The dive team (fill in any specialty like paramedic, hazmat etc) on a rescue or fire agency is comprised of divers and tender and field supervisors that understand and know how to manage a water-related emergency. Diving is a specialty. Usually not all of the agency are divers. When training, budgeting, and responding to calls the dive team does that themselves. Soon, there is an esprit decor established and a bit of a clique which actually serves the team well. Unfortunately, at the chief level, the whole agency is a team, an organization and silos are nearly invisible. How do leaders discuss risk mitigation, safety practices, and operating protocols when the very language the siloed functions use to communicate is different. When a 1400 person county-wide fire-rescue organization with over 500 square miles of jurisdiction covering 30 towns and 3 major cities talks about risk management, the silo effect could begin to cloud the best solutions to each risk or problem area. Now obviously, many agencies cross-train and communicate well, but you get the idea.[2]

When a large corporation develops a risk management program the existence of silos should be considered. When building a proper integrated risk management program silos can be overcome. To do so requires we look at the interface aspects of each function and the various cause and effect relationship between each. Modern trends in organizational effectiveness would suggest the need for more collaboration and less hierarchical approaches to problem identification and resolution and decision making in general.[3]

References:

[1] Sikich, Gary. (2008). “ Understanding the Risk Continuum: Integrating Risk Types “. Norwich University MSBC Seminar 4 Lecture Week 6, 2010

[2] Coleman, Ronny J., (2000). “Open up your silo and share with the community“. As appeared in FireChief Magazine July 14, 2010. Retrieved 7-14-10: http://firechief.com/mag/firefighting_open_silo_share/

[3] Retrieved 7-14-10: http://www.keyexecutiveforum.com/news/What_are_organization_silos2.htm

Almost ate the e.Coli – Company Brand Risk

I don’t watch TV or the regular news channels. Occasionally, I will catch up with Meet the Press on Sundays, a USA Today on the plane, or a quick internet browse of current events.

Last week I took a package of frozen organic buffalo from the freezer to thaw for evening dinner. Got on the internet and found this:Colorado firm recalls bison meat over E.coli scare“.[1] So, I check the brand, date, product code, and lot number and it’s an exact match. Whoah! The likelihood of catching that article the day I was eating the bison is quite remote.

So, today I take out the package of elk for tonight’s dinner and, of course check the label and Google the company.  It seems ElkUSA (aka Grande Natural Meats) is having problems because the name of the company with the actual product recall (Rocky Mountain Natural Meats) and the product name (Great Range Brand Ground Bison) are very similar to the elk meat producer. Here’s what I found on their website:

NOTICE: We are NOT affected by the recent USDA recall of Bison (Buffalo) ground meat and steaks from other companies.  (July 2, 2010)[2]

This is just one small example of how a brand problem at one company affects another. When we consider the number of product recalls globally, risk to brand and image is real. Certainly it’s possible that problems with the food supply severely impact more than just one company, one geography or one product.

Just ‘food’ for thought, pun intended.

[1] Reuters on MSNBC, July 3, 2010. “Colorado firm recalls bison meat over E.coli scare“. Retrieved 7-13-10: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/38076817/ns/us_news

[2] Elk USA, July 2, 2010. “Grande Premium Meats”, Retrieved http://www.elkusa.com/

Today’

Threat – hazard – risk – impact – I am replaceable and someone will learn what I knew and apply it in business, building can be rebuilt and life will go on. Yes, all risks are economic.

A business ultimately exists to build profit or needs steady revenue to continue services (think non-profits need donors, volunteers, supplies). The tragic impact of loss of life or property is the most dramatic, devastating, and hurts us the most. We may lose loved ones, workers and their knowledge, possessions, equipment, product and infrastructure may be destroyed, yet, risk management becomes a strategy of balancing economic impacts.

Sikich (2008) suggests a list of top risks with high severity which easily applies to any country or business.[1]  I’ve suggested a priority order based on my understanding of each risk and a guess at what might cause the most broad and widespread global disruption:

  1. Infrastructure Failure U.S.
  2. Infrastructure Failure Europe
  3. Emergent Virus with High Human Pathogenicity
  4. Transatlantic Data Blackout
  5. Significant Production Output Drop from OPEC Countries
  6. Oil Price Spike due to Major Interdiction of Supply
  7. Fall in U.S. Dollar
  8. Severe Earthquake in Major Economic Center
  9. Continuing to Consume more than is Produced
  10. Significant Terrorist Event
  11. China – India Economic Slowdown
  12. Hedge Fund Collapse
  13. Continuing Decline in Property Values

A recent risk study by FM Global (2010) found that companies who practiced rigorous risk management were more likely to be stronger financially than companies who did have good risk management practices in place as part of their corporate strategy. [2]

References:

[1] Sikich, Gary. (2008). “Strategic Risk Management: International and Economic Risk “. Norwich University MSBC Seminar 4 Lecture Week 5, 2010

[2]Douvas, Steven, 2010. “Companies With Strong Physical Risk Management Deliver More Stable Earnings, New Research from FM Global Shows“. Retrieved 7-8-10: http://www.fmglobal.com/assets/pdf/P09232.pdf

Social Media for Business Continuity

I believe today’s social media is only the beginning of more intricate and unimaginable methods of communicating.

For now, as many point out, there is a generational disconnect between those who use it and like and those who don’t. The question may also go beyond that point.

I’m not familiar with many Business Continuity managers who are  in the career stage (the age bracket) where social media is most accepted. Are they really out there? Most of the people I come in contact with who are in BCM are in the prime or later in their careers. In that latter group I find a loathing, avoidance, and irritability from many (not all) of the use of social media.

In a recent ACP member poll taken in one chapter fully 85% of those responding to a survey indicated that they either do not use or choose not to use any social media and further, they did not wish to use it to communicate or receive updates about chapter news or events.

Current social media, Facebook in particular, is fraught with privacy and security issues. Twitter has yet to prove itself valuable as a mainstream tool. However, both have been considered recently for use during disasters to get the word out to an audience who might otherwise not be paying attention to the traditional news outlets. For example, wildland fire incident command may approve the PIO (public information officer) to use Twitter to message evacuations and other fireground updates that affect citizens.

Returning to my initial statement and looking forward I believe while the challenge exists to use social media successfully in the BCM arena, we will be surprised at how other new types of social communication becomes a requirement in order to communicate at all. Think before email and cell phones and compare that time to now. It will happen again and we may not be ready.

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