BUILD IN FLEXIBILIT Y
As comprehensive as your planning should be,
you have to stay ;exible. A crisis may and often will
occur at an inopportune time.
In our case, the ;re hit when three key staff people
were out of town and unavailable. Don’t get caught
in a situation where your recovery is dependent on
any one person. Build in redundancies. Really, this
is the same principle good managers use every day
in business. Cross-training different workers on key
operational tasks gives the company more ;exibility.
When the ;re hit, we had a lot of things in
place. What we didn’t have anymore was an of;ce.
We could have just had everyone work from
home for a few weeks or months and connect via
phone conferences, emails, Skype and text messages.
But we decided at the outset that having a physical
of;ce where everyone could gather would help us
build a much-needed sense of camaraderie. So we
moved very quickly on that front.
By noon on the day after the ;re, we had set up
shop in a short-term temporary space that included
a small conference room and a few desks. Cozy, yes,
but enough space for us to connect and strategize—
very much like an emergency command center.
By 3:00 that afternoon, we had toured two
possible longer-term locations. By the third day,
we were meeting with architects about how best
to design a new permanent headquarters. And by
day ;ve, we had agreed on the terms of a nine-month lease for longer-term temporary space. Our
new of;ce is right across the street from the old
building, which will be very convenient as construction begins.
Camaraderie and togetherness weren’t just
abstract ideas for us. We held our ;rst staff meeting
at a nearby 24-hour restaurant at 12: 30 a.m. on
February 12—just three hours or so after the ;re
started. And for the ;rst couple of weeks, we met
almost every morning for daily planning meetings.
records and recommended practices ;les, as well as our
association management software, historical photos and
records, among other informational assets.
Because we couldn’t allow a lapse in communication with our members, several years ago we also had
abandoned our dinosaur phones and put in a new Voice
Over Internet Protocol (VOIP) telephone system. As a
result, when the ;re hit, our ability to receive and place
phone calls was unaffected. Calls were immediately
and seamlessly transferred over the Internet to staff
members’ individual mobile phones.
PEI members will have a much different set of
mission-critical assets. For manufacturers, tools, dies,
machinery and inventory. For distributors, service
vehicles, equipment and tools. So, make sure that you
have action plans to reduce downtime with these assets.
Should some of your vehicles be stored at a second
location so a devastating event in one place won’t wipe
everything out? Can you work with key vendors to
ensure short- and long-term equipment replacements
under various contingencies? Can employees use
their own vehicles temporarily and track their mileage?
Would a friendly competitor be willing to loan you a
few items for a few days?
The solutions will vary from company to company.
Develop your own strategies for protecting your key assets.