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Santa’s resilience planning: part four

In a series of articles Paul Kudray has been following Santa Claus and his first attempt at resilience planning. In this, the last instalment, it’s the final countdown for Santa and his organization…

‘So this is Christmas, and what have you done?’ Have you had your Christmas party yet? Was there an office party? Is the photocopier still working? Have you got your Christmas jumper on? Have you got your outfit sorted for Christmas Day? Only a couple more sleeps to go and it’s here. With shops starting earlier and earlier it feels like there’s only six months between Christmases now! 

As you finish your preparations for the big event (I have all my shopping to do tomorrow), let me bring you up to date with Santa’s resilience planning, to make sure he delivers his most urgent services to the world.

Ain’t no stopping us now

‘We’re in the groove’ proclaimed Faldafeykir at the final board meeting, as the incident management team briefing was about to take place. Santa, Stekkjarstaur, Stufur, Faldafeykir and Thvorusleikir wanted some final assurances that all of the contingency plans were ready and in place across the Claus organization. They’d worked so hard to get it done in record time; they wanted to know that everything had been covered.

For me this was a great testimony to their commitment. They weren’t just prepared to take a verbal assurance during a death by PowerPoint presentation given to them by one of the more junior elves; “Oh, no, no, no!” shouted Santa. He wanted to see the real evidence that they’d considered all the threats and had resilient plans in place. Santa and Stekkjarstaur in particular, wanted to make sure that if they asked where they were going, the reply wouldn’t be ‘we don’t know?’

(Did you see what I did there with the McFadden and Whitehead song?)

Santa and his team have followed a structured process to make sure they’re resilient - and avoid the near catastrophe of last year, when they almost didn’t have transport to take them around the world. Santa really would have been ‘walking in the air’ – thin air to be precise. And he would have fallen to the ground, smashing his reputation along with his pride, a few bottles of perfume and some toys. The Christmas socks and hankies would have been OK: there’s no escaping them at any cost!

All the right moves

Santa knows his ballroom from his Latin and – you might not know this – is something of a legend on the dance floor. Having been lucky enough to go to the Claus Christmas party, I imagine he’d get a ’10 from Len’ if he entered Strictly / Dancing with the Stars! I might write in to the BBC and suggest it…

In terms of resilience planning, Santa, who’s been on one of those excellent emotional intelligence courses for leaders, has influenced a change in the culture, across his organization. There is a strong and committed attitude towards resilience planning – partly as a result of last year’s near miss. This year, they’ve got all the right moves and have made sure they’re well prepared for any disruptive challenge!

Shake your body down to the ground

There’s no more cavalier, ‘de-resilient leadership’. No more thinking ‘it’s never going to happen here’; ‘we don’t need resilience planning’; and no more Santa thinking he’ll know what to do if something bad happens because ‘it’s all in his head’. “Ho, Ho, Ho,” shouted Santa with great pride in his organization’s work.

This year, their resilience plans are well documented and in the spirit of ISO 22301 standards. We didn’t have time to go for full certification, but it hasn’t stopped them getting as close as they can. Everyone within the Claus organization sees resilience as a long term quality which supports and adds to their business of bringing joy around the world on Christmas Day!

Always there

Once they had their resilient plan, Santa and his team didn’t just sit back sipping steaming hot cups of green tea and eating the delightful (still warm from the oven) mince pies made by Mrs C. They made a firm commitment to ensuring the plans are maintained through self-assessment, audit and external review. They’ve even ensured that suppliers’ continuity plans are regularly checked and remain valid.

Most importantly, they’ve been able to show they fully follow the Plan, Do, Check, Act (PDCA) Model: they’ve established business continuity, implemented it, they’re monitoring it, they’ll review it and they’ve committed to continue to maintain and improve it.

Santa baby

As Christmas 2015 rapidly gets closer, there are still lots of things which need to be completed before the big day. Some work sites will have closed already (maybe yours?). Some won’t close at all; especially the essential services we all need to be there. All around us the darker side of life will continue, there’ll be death, sadness, assaults against fellow humans and animals. Many of us spend time reflecting on – and possibly helping - those less fortunate than ourselves.

Christmas is also a time when there is great happiness - not just because Santa is resilient this year and is guaranteed to make it back home for some quality time with Mrs C and the elves. There will be happiness because Christmas brings people and families together. For me, that’s what a resilient future should be built around and on, not just the technology, but a combination of values that remain intrinsically important to us all.

Merry Christmas everyone

It’s been a pleasure and a tremendous honour to work with the real Santa and his team this year, helping them get prepared and resilient to their specific challenges. However lovely you think they are at Claus HQ, magnify it: they’re better! Plus, the work wasn’t too difficult, to be honest. They knew the solutions to the problems and just needed guidance, coaching and the confidence to achieve them.

I don’t anticipate delivering an acceptance speech at a 2016 industry awards ceremony, for my part in the global resilience planning for Santa in 2015. To me that’s not the measure of a job well done. It’s life experiences that count the most and I’m happy we were able to introduce Santa to resilience planning and help him create the change in the hearts and minds of everyone within the Claus organization to become resilient!

The author

Paul KudrayAn international leader in business resilience consultancy, training and coaching; Paul Kudray, MSc FICPEM CBCI AMBCI, 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 or via LinkedIn 

Read part one, part two and part three of the Santa’s resilience planning series.

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