It’s something of a paradox. On the one hand, maintaining business as usual (BAU) could be considered a key goal of business continuity, especially if “business as usual” means high productivity and efficiency. Yet as a research paper presented by Dr. Robert Kay at the DEP* Expo 2012 points out, a focus on BAU that is excessive can end up weakening the very organisation that it is supposed to be supporting. The determining factor is the attitude in the organisation to the short term and the longer term.
The potential problem with a BAU policy that takes priority over everything else is that it fashions the rest of the organisation in the same inflexible way. Management methods such as lean production and logistics, and leveraged equity can generate impressive results in a stable environment with no sudden changes. However, by the same token, they restrict the ability of an enterprise to absorb and react to unexpected events. Too much fine tuning can end up spelling “vulnerability”.
The way round this involves being open-minded as an organisation. The first thing to accept is the need to change and adapt; and the second is the challenge, in the longer term, of shaping one’s environment more to increase one’s influence over the future events. This latter item turns out to be a characteristic of global firms with a longer history. The reason why they continue to be in business and to weather the changing economic and industrial conditions is also because they are able to shape their environment not just once, but repeatedly – and will likely to continue to do so in the future.
(*) DEP – Disaster Response Emergency Management and Public Safety – Australian National Expo 2012.