Why shock tactics no longer work when trying to sell resilience

Published: Friday, 27 January 2017 09:24

Paul Kudray explains why attempting to convince organizations to take business resilience seriously through fear of what can go wrong is no longer an effective tactic. Taking a positive approach to the benefits of resilience is much more likely to achieve real interest…  

Once upon a time…

You may know this already but warning and informing the public of an emergency is one of the duties given to the category one responding agencies, in the UK under the Civil Contingencies Act 2004 (CCA). But there has always been a caveat attached in that such communications should not create angst and panic; for obvious reasons.

But today, if you stopped someone in the street today and told them the emergency services and other agencies were training and exercising for a terrorist attack, half the public would have fear that something was going to happen and the other half would say that they would expect them to be training given what goes on around the world today.

Of course, sadly the world changes and will continue to do so. Disasters and tragedies happen: not more frequently, but the technology of today enables it to be reported instantly. They have become more ‘common place’ and accepted norms even though they still cause shock, outrage and disbelief.

We live in a world where the ‘secret squirrels’ operate a little more overtly then they used to because it helps to provide reassurance, whilst sufficiently letting the bad guys and girls know they will never win. People want to be resilient and are resilient; people still go about their daily living and, yes, we want to be as secure and safe as we can be. In many countries though this sadly isn’t the case. Most of us are very fortunate indeed and really have little to genuinely complain about.

Big bang theory and rising tides

Today the world and its people are more informed than ever before about what could go wrong. Agencies, governments and businesses are and should be, held to account for failing to take adequate measures to be prepared for worse case scenarios. People don’t want to know about the algorithms and risk matrix scores when something happens: they just want to know what to do and what others are doing to help. People want and need simplicity in a crisis.

We still see today many approaches to business continuity management that focus on shock tactics to try and tempt businesses to invest in resilience. We see many uses of the ancient and historical quotes and proverbs about being prepared for disaster: the ‘what if’ attack. I’ve tried it myself and it can work from time to time but I don’t believe it is effective anymore.

As people (and businesses are run by people), we want and buy things we need. Things we see as providing some added value to us. Our emotional intelligence plays a part as well as our reasoning. We can also be swayed by what others have; and, of course, by word of mouth as recommendations.

Business resilience today has used up and exhausted its fair share of efforts to try to convince people to buy on the negative effect. That concept or marketing is actually from a different generation; the hard sell approach. Yet the majority of the resilience marketing is still done that way.

The world and technology has changed as have the people who operate and use it. Our awareness and desires to have something we see as value is based on emotions. If we purchase a fire extinguisher for our own homes, it’s not just the product we are buying but also a sense of security.

If we look closely at business resilience, yes there is a serious tone to it because it’s about business and business means money; but business resilience today still remains in the shadows of a ‘dark art’ industry and image and therefore has limited appeal value because its ‘sold’ under the cloud of negativity rather than positivity.

We need to be collectively more advanced; actually, strike that remark. We need to be collectively more ‘today’ and think like people and change the approach and awareness of business resilience. We need to understand and know ourselves; understand what people want and need and adapt our communication skills. We need to adopt an entertain, educate and engage approach to resilience.

We need to think beyond those already converted to the concept of business continuity management and organisational resilience and think of all businesses that may want to be resilient. To do that we need to communicate not just on the negative offense but also the positive one.

Additionally, we need to collectively influence the likes of the insurance companies and the financial world to see business resilience as a quality that should be rewarded in terms of preparedness.

The reason is simple. Until there is an ‘up front’ type of benefit to having business resilience, such as an insurance premium discount or a due diligence pass for a business banking loan, rather than just solely concentrating on the concept that you will be better prepared for something which might never happen, then we will always be trying to ‘hustle’ resilience onto organizations.

The author

Paul KudrayAn international leader in business resilience consultancy, training and coaching; Paul Kudray, MSc FICPEM CBCI AMBCI Fellow of the EPC, is an ex-emergency services commander who finished an exemplary 32 year career in the UK healthcare sector, working for the NHS - culminating in 7½ years as the Director of Resilience for one of the world’s largest ambulance services, NWAS NHS Trust. He now works with private and public sector clients around the world, training, advising, coaching and mentoring them at the highest levels about emergency and business continuity management. Paul's company is KCLContact Paul at paul@kudrayconsulting.com or via LinkedIn