Posts Tagged ‘contingency planning’

by Richard Martin

That’s the title of a song popularized and sung by Nat King Cole. Here in Canada, and especially in Quebec, things tend to get lazier, hazier, and yes, even a bit crazier, in the summer. I think it has to do with our (he says clearing his throat)–shall we say–interesting climate? Canadians spend most of the year fighting against the weather, so when it gets nice for about 2 months in the summer, we tend to let things ride a bit more. Unfortunately, a lot of people kick back so much that they put everything on hold. “Too many key people are on vacation.” “We’ll get to this after the summer.” “Nobody’s thinking about this right now, so don’t be a party-pooper.”

Well, life goes on. We can’t just pretend that business and life stop because it’s summer. In most areas of the world, summer is actually when things get done and life gets more hectic. Back in January I kicked off the new year with a list of the steps for ensuring the continuous and continuing focus throughout the year on building organizational and strategic readiness (See this link.). Not just once or twice, but actually incorporating a readiness mindset into all your processes and systems on a regular basis.

Here’s what I suggested for the 2nd quarter:

April-May: Issue guidance for next fiscal year so that the entire organization can identify their planning focus and prepare to hit the ground running when the next year starts. These plans should be briefed up the “chain of command” so they are fully aligned with the strategic and operational guidance and direction.

June: Review performance of first half and adjust plans and focus to end of current year. Submit initial budget forecasts, especially for funding of special projects, new product development, marketing initiatives, etc.

And for the 3rd quarter:

July-August: Senior leadership reviews long-term plans and projects under the 2-3 year forecasting framework. Budgets and plans at all levels are reviewed and adjusted in accordance with strategic forecasts and intent for next fiscal year (starting in 4-5 months).

September: Senior leadership confirms overall budgets and plans for next fiscal year and issues updated guidance and direction to organization. Subordinate elements of the organization adjust their plans and forecasts to align with this guidance.

Well? How are you doing so far? It’s not too late to get caught up on the 2nd quarter tasks. As for July and August, these are the perfect months to look ahead and gain a sense of where you will head at the start of the next year.

Seems a bit premature? Actually, it’s when people are focused on other things, on their vacations, and the fine weather, that you should be thinking ahead. You probably have a bit more time to reflect and plan, and to prepare for the post-Labour Day rush (see September above).

It’s unfathomable to me how Pearson International Airport, Canada’s major international airport, can be so negatively affected by harsh winter weather during the last 2 weeks. After all, we DO live in Canada. The Greater Toronto Airports Authority, GTAA, has set the goal of making Pearson an international hub. If they want to achieve this lofty goal, it seems to me that they have to make allowance for the possibility that it might get colder than -10 degrees Celsius at some point during the winter. I’m quite sure the airport’s leadership has contingency plans and has exercised how to react to crashes and certain types of security risks. But the most likely threats, such as bad weather, pandemics, and various business scenarios must also be foreseen and exercised. What’s more, there are many other airports in Canada that are used to dealing with harsh winter conditions, such as Edmonton, Winnipeg, Montreal, and Quebec City. I’m sure they could provide a lot of knowledge and information to help with developing procedures and plans for the winter months.

Food for Thought
The difficulties of dealing with uncertainty are understandable, but staying in the dark or failing to cater to various emergencies and threat scenarios that are foreseeable is unexcusable. Especially if the information and knowledge are readily available or can be “wargamed” and contingency plans developed.

Richard Martin is a consultant, speaker, and executive coach. He brings his military and business leadership and management experience to bear for executives and organizations seeking to exploit change, maximize opportunity, and minimize risk.

© 2014 Richard Martin. Reproduction and quotes are permitted with proper attribution.