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Adaptive business continuity starts to emerge

In September 2015 business continuity experts David Lindstedt and Mark Armour launched the Continuity 2.0 Manifesto (now termed The Adaptive BC Manifesto); an attempt to take business continuity in a new direction. David Lindstedt provides an update on progress to date and future expectations.

In the time following the original publication of the The Adaptive BC Manifesto, we have had so many thoughtful conversations with so many interesting preparedness professionals.

There is certainly a desire out there for something new in the profession, some way to reinvigorate our work and free the practitioner from ineffective activities. We have learned a great deal from innovative and creative colleagues who continue to try new solutions to provide value in what they do.

A paradigm shift is emerging in business continuity, one that moves the focus from documentation to preparedness, from compliance to recoverability. Traditional BC seeks to define processes for managing a business continuity program or system; Adaptive BC seeks to define a framework for preparing organizations to continue business in the event of a disruption. It is a rather subtle difference but the ramifications are significant. This changes the focus from how to effectively manage the teams and mechanisms of business continuity to how businesses can be better prepared. 

It's time to devalue ‘the plan’. A focus on documentation gives an organization a kind of tunnel vision to see business continuity planning in terms of documents. It sets the misperception that documenting information is the essence of preparedness. This leads to a focus almost entirely on documented procedures, ignoring the resources, crisis competencies, and intuitive (but undocumented) procedures that are vital in any recovery. Document-driven approaches concentrate on writing down recovery strategy scripts, BIA results, inventory lists, and the like. This largely ignores the importance of putting the right resources in place before the disaster, and improving the psychological competencies necessary for employees to function during a crisis. It also reduces flexibility and innovation at time of disaster, as people will look to do what is written down for them instead of engaging in creative problem solving to address a shifting post-disaster environment.Documenting the plan can lead to a very myopic approach to preparedness.

The move away from a document-centric approach will allow us to focus on individual human beings and the resources they need to recover their services. We can spend more time preparing people if we spend less time documenting data. If we are strong enough, business continuity will re-center itself to: The continuous improvement of recovery capabilities. We will measure progress, value, and maturity not by the structure of the business continuity program, but by the value it can produce for the organization.

Mark Armour and other very smart, engaged colleagues are laying a foundation for this change. It is a viable alternative approach to traditional continuity planning. You can hear echoes of it in the writings and postings of many of us, though it lacked a name. Adaptive Business Continuity is merely hatching from the shell at this point; we shall see what fully emerges in the months to come.

The author

David Lindstedt, PhD, PMP, CBCP directs a Program Management Office (PMO) within the Office of Distance Education and eLearning at The Ohio State University. ODEE focuses on inspiring innovative instruction through emerging technologies.

He is also the Founder of Readiness Analytics, LLC, home of The Readiness Testâ„¢ and a free Household Continuity self-assessment tool. 

David has published in international journals and presented at international conferences on PM and BCP. He has taught classes in project management and business continuity. He serves on the Editorial Board for the Journal of Business Continuity & Emergency Planning.

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Business continuity can be defined as 'the processes, procedures, decisions and activities to ensure that an organization can continue to function through an operational interruption'. Read more about the basics of business continuity here.

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