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The link between Business Continuity and Organizational Culture?

Last Updated on May 31, 2020 by Alex Jankovic

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Organizational culture is an often-overlooked factor in the long-term viability of Business Continuity Management (BCM) Programs. Many organizations understand the importance of Business Continuity Planning processes, such as Risks Assessment or a Business Impact Analysis (BIA).

Still, they fail to consider how their organizational culture could potentially impact the business continuity planning efforts and overall effectiveness of the BCM Programs once developed and implemented.

The organizational governance process is essential in business continuity planning (link to our previous blog about governance here), but it doesn't always ensure that business resilience is engrained in the organization's way of life.

Let's talk about governance

What is the Governance Process? It is the formal framework outlining how the organization is structured, regulated and held accountable.

On the other hand, organizational culture includes informal and unwritten rules, which are often just as important as the governance process itself. The organization's governance process might outline the way employees should act, but most employees will not be making their decisions with these documents in hands.

In the simplest terms, organizational culture is "the way things are done" at a specific organization. It underlines the way an organization operates. It affects all aspects of operations in one way or another and has a particularly significant impact on Business Continuity Planning (BCP) efforts.

BCM Program effectiveness

Effectiveness of the BCM Program will depend on the organization's capability to embrace resiliency as part of its core values. Organizations must understand that this process exists to support their mission statement, and it is not something that is implemented to appease senior leadership, board members, or to meet industry regulatory requirements.

So, what are some considerations when it comes to the integration of organizational culture and Business Continuity Planning efforts? Here are are a few important ones:

1. Business planning and organizational resilience

The business continuity must be at the forefront of your organization's business planning initiatives. It should be introduced early in the new business function, process or new service planning discussions. Business Continuity Managers must be included at the senior leadership table.

Not integrating Business Continuity and IT Disaster Recovery early into business discussions, process or service design will potentially introduce re-work, demoralize your team and lower your customers' satisfaction. It will be more challenging to re-introduce resilience once the product is already in "production."

Many successful organizations realize that operational resilience builds overtime when it is introduced in their daily processes and procedures.

2. Talent Management and Business Continuity Planning

We know that people love new challenges and that many can't stay long in their positions and organizations. Some organizations have quite a significant internal (people moving between positions) or external turnover (coming in or leaving the organization), and that can cause considerable problems with your business continuity planning efforts.

Integration of BCM Program and your Human Resource department initiatives will ensure that your most valuable resources, your people, will know what to do and how to act when disaster strikes. Business continuity training must be delivered as a part of your leadership or new employee training initiatives. It will introduce individual business resilience expectations and accountability across the organization.

3. Business Continuity accountability culture

Many organizations have implemented formal management accountability frameworks that define sound management practices and performance expectations. Unfortunately, at some organizations, accountability is a loose term.

Resilient organizations, regardless of their size, are embracing business continuity accountability at all levels. Senior leadership must lead by example, and business continuity accountability must be a part of their performance process. Additionally, mid-level management and employees must be responsible for their business functions and processes. This approach is imperative to ensure that the organization is ready to respond when an unexpected event disrupts their operations.

Business continuity planning requires the involvement and input of many stakeholders across the organization. If the organization's culture is one of pure self-interest and competition between departments or teams, it could be harder to bring them all together to form a cohesive, organization-wide business continuity plans.

4. Test, practise and continuously learn

The best-case scenario is that the effectiveness of your business continuity plans won't be truly tested until long after they are implemented. The value of Business Continuity efforts will be identified when the dust settles after the disruptive business event, and only when the plans are correctly executed.

Will your staff actually follow the planned response procedures exactly as they are outlined in the plans? Or, will they just follow their instincts and do whatever they think is right at the time? How well will various stakeholders work together, including the coordination with external agencies?

These kinds of questions must be discussed before business continuity plans are finalized. All your plans must be tested and exercised to ensure that there are no gaps that can limit their effectiveness.

5. It has to be a right-fit

A business continuity plan that takes organizational culture into account may potentially need to stray away from the theoretically most optimal industry-leading approach. Heavy focus on the process will hinder business continuity planning efforts, and possibly your team can quickly lose interest. A chosen Business Continuity Management Program implementation approach has to work for your organization and align with your organization's culture.  

It also needs to identify when your organization's culture has to change and embrace business resilience as a new norm. The introduction of formal and optimal business continuity processes will ensure that your organization will successfully execute your mission statement and continue to provide services to your clients.

StratoGrid Advisory is a Business Continuity Management (BCM) Advisory firm in the Ottawa/Gatineau region that can provide you with the experience and knowledge needed to successfully implement a BCM Program in your organization.

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