In this episode of the Managing Uncertainty Podcast, Bryghtpath Principal & Chief Executive Bryan Strawser discusses the top 5 most popular episodes of 2021. Bryan revisits some of the highlights and adds some new perspectives and reflections along the way.
Related Episodes & Blog Posts
- Blog Post: What the COVID-19 pandemic will mean for the office of the future
- Blog Post: How we work at Bryghtpath – Collaboration Tools
- Episode #107: Returning to the Office in 2021 Post-COVID, what role will remote work play?
- Episode #114: Mental Health in our Profession
- Episode #115: Ransomware and Backups
- Episode #116: Tools We Use At Bryghtpath (2021 Edition)
- Episode # 121: Metrics for Success in your Business Continuity Program
Hello and Welcome to the Managing Uncertainty Podcast. This is Bryan Strawser, Principal and Chief Executive here at Bryghtpath. And as you’ve probably noticed over the last month, we’ve been on a bit of a hiatus from the podcast. We’ve actually done the podcast almost nonstop for a little over five and a half years.
With having some new folks join the team, including our first full-time hire in our communications and marketing team, it gives us a chance to kind of reboot the podcast a little bit and start to think a little more strategically about the content. But now we’re back. You can expect to see a weekly episode for as far into the future as you can envision. I want to start off this kind of second season, if you want to think of it in that way, of our podcast by talking about some highlights from five of our most popular podcast episodes.
I want to go back and just revisit a couple topics from these and add some new perspective. I want to start with episode 107. As we’re recording this one here in March 2022, episode 107 is from just over a year ago. It was from February 15, 2021. The theme was about returning to the office post-COVID, which we all thought would be at some point in 2021. And yet here we are in 2022 and we have companies that are just now making the decision to come back to the office.
Things have definitely shifted as we’ve been faced with new variants of COVID. And then suddenly, just over the last 45 to 60 days, this massive drop off of cases. We’ve started to all ask ourselves, has COVID finally become endemic? Are we starting to see the light at the end of that tunnel with vaccine and booster saturation? I think we all have our fingers crossed that we’re hoping that this is where we’re at. But in episode 107, we talked about return to the office following COVID, and we highlighted some information.
We highlighted a trend that I think has become even more true. And that trend is that for a lot of companies, if you do not have to do hands-on work, then these positions are shifting to full-time hybrid where you’re only coming to the office occasionally, or maybe on a dedicated day for your team or your division, or your position is full-time remote. At the time we recorded that episode, episode 107 in February 2021, we highlighted some data from a report from McKinsey.
The McKinsey report said that more than 20 to 30% of employers were considering full-time remote. We know that that number has grown since then. We also read in that survey that more than 80% of employees that had been surveyed said they had difficulty disconnecting from work when they were home. We had other data at the time from Microsoft talking about how employees were actively working outside of typical work hours for corporations. It was interesting to see how that had changed.
Now here we are a year later, and as we’re working with some of our clients right now, this is a big theme that we’re hearing related to business continuity. We’re hearing it a lot when we start to talk about, well, where can these teams do the work? Do they have to be in a facility? Whereas a year or two years ago, we heard a lot more challenges about, “We need alternate workspace. We need X number of seats. We need these technologies,” for almost any role.
Whether they had to do hands-on work in an office or not, employers wanted their folks in the office. And now that agenda has entirely flipped and most of our clients are shifting to a full-time hybrid, full-time remote environment, except for folks who literally have to have their hands on something in order to do the work. The workplace of the future has become radically different.
I think the things that we talked about in episode 107, which we’ll link in the show notes, you can go back and take a look, have come to true, and they have continued to push even further beyond what we expected them to be a year ago. The second episode I want to go back and do a bit of retrospective on is from July 2021. It’s episode 115.
In this episode, we talked about a recent article at The Time from information security journalist Brian Krebs, and the title of his article was Don’t Wanna Pay Ransom Gangs? Test Your Backups. In this podcast, I talked a lot about dealing with ransomware from the perspective of a business continuity and disaster recovery problem. Do you have of the proper backups in place? Are the question that Brian and I were both asking in him and his article and me in our podcast.
Do you really understand the time and effort required for recovery in the event of a large scale ransomware issue? I will tell you, and I think we all recognize this as crisis management and business continuity professionals, that a year later, almost a year later, we are still dealing with the same ransomware threat. And if anything, that ransomware threat is becoming more challenging than it was even a year ago.
In this morning’s Wall Street Journal, for example, and I’m recording this episode on March 2nd, you’re going to hear this episode on March 7th in just a few days, in this morning’s Wall Street Journal cyber risk report, there was an article about how ransomware gangs are now going after middle tier sized organizations instead of just large organizations. They’re starting to hit the middle tier of companies, and they’re getting 800,000 to $1.2 million per successful ransomware attack in terms of paid ransom.
Because they’re finding that smaller organizations don’t have the technological capability, they don’t have the disaster recovery and business continuity and information security capability that larger, more regulated, more complex, more capable the companies have. This podcast has held up to be true. And if anything, it indicates that the problem continues and to some extent has continued to get worse.
And that an effective way to deal with a ransomware threat beyond your information security program and perimeter and all the protective measures you take programmatically and technologically to protect your data, it’s also the challenge of do you have the right business continuity and disaster recovery plans in place? Those are a clear necessity as we continue to deal with the ransomware threat.
The next episode I want to take a quick look back at, one of our most popular episodes of all time, episode 121, where we talked about metrics for success in a business continuity program. This podcast episode is from September 13th of last year in 2021. In this episode, I talked about the key metrics to measure success in your business continuity program. When you’re looking at a business continuity program, what are those metrics that you really want to look at? I really divided these into a couple key areas.
The first is that you need to have some strategic metrics. And in my mind, those strategic metrics revolve all around the maturity of your program. I used the example of how one of the things that we do at Bryghtpath is we measure the maturity of a business county program using a maturity model that follows the ISO 22301 standard.
And that this gives us a very objective view of where a program stands against the standard, and we can watch how that number moves over time as that evaluation and assessment continues. One is that kind of strategic metric. The second are the operational metrics that any program should have to understand the day-to-day progress of the business continuity life cycle, where you’re looking at BIA completion and quality, plan completion and quality, exercises or tests in the case of disaster recovery plans.
And then you’re kind of reporting the news, right? You’re reporting where the program sits from an operational lifecycle standpoint. And then lastly, that you track when there is a disruption, you seek to find some metrics that will resonate with your board and your C-suite. I used the example of when I worked for a large retailer. One of the things that we were able to show from a crisis management perspective is that we could reopen more quickly than our competition.
And in doing so, we could capture additional sales following a regional natural disaster. A hurricane was the specific case where we kind of highlighted this. That kind of data really resonated and demonstrated the value of our program because we showed a different way of talking about what was going on. We translated it in the way that it tied directly back to how the company thought about their strategic objectives. Because in a retail environment, they want to sell stuff. That was our business.
That’s what we do. Again, from a business continuity metric standpoint, those were kind of three buckets, three categories of metrics that were important. Another popular episode of the last year that I like to reflect back on is episode 116 where we talked about some of the tools we’re using here at Bryghtpath. And in this episode, we talked about a number of things. We talked about a project management tool. We use Monday.com. A knowledge management and tracking tool, we use Notion.
It’s a collaborative note taking tool. For internal communications, we use Slack. For tracking the sales process, we use Salesforce. For email, we use Superhuman and Google Workplace. For email marketing, we use Drip. For contracts, we use PandaDoc. For video conferencing, we use Zoom. And for notetaking in a meeting, we use an AI-based note taker called Avoma, A-V-O-M-A. If I was to pick a couple tools that are by far the most important for us and our success at Bryghtpath, first I would say it’s Slack.
It has completely eliminated our internal email, and it is the way that we collaborate internally all the time. And in a lot of cases, it’s how we collaborate with our clients, because we’ll set client channels up and we’ll talk with our clients in Slack. Notion is another extremely valuable tool for us. It’s hard to describe Notion.
It’s a combination of a knowledge management tool, almost like a really easy to use internal Wikipedia, where we track our policies, our SOPs, our website content, our podcast content, but it is also a way in which we collaboratively take notes and can do that in real time in the document with many people in there once. We share those notes and recaps with our clients. And then lastly, Avoma, AI-based note taking tool, works with Zoom, Teams, WebEx, and others.
Except for really sensitive meetings, Avoma goes in, it records the meeting. We’re doing this with everyone’s knowledge and understanding, but it records the meeting. It records all the video content. It records the audio content. It takes notes using artificial intelligence and machine learning, and it generates a transcript. It does all of that in about 45 to 60 minutes, and then we use that in our client meeting notes process, and we share that openly with our clients. It’s been a very valuable system.
In a lot of ways, it lets us stay focused on the conversation because we know and trust that Avoma is taking notes for us that we can use, but it is also valuable from the standpoint of it allows us to go back and look at things and reflect on those and make sure there’s no misunderstandings as the meeting goes on and particularly as meetings fade into our memory in the past.
And then lastly, a podcast has resonated with more people than I expected, and I think as I record this episode on the seventh day of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and knowing what I’ve had to help clients with and friends with in terms of dealing with their employees and loved ones and friends in Ukraine that have been harmed by this event, and that was episode 114 about mental health in our profession.
Recorded this in July 2021 and talked a little bit about what we’ve all been through as business continuity, crisis management, crisis communications, corporate security professionals over the last two years of the pandemic. I talked a lot about stress and anxiety and the impact the pandemic has had on all of us as professionals, how we can all find help in an emergency and where we can go to find someone to talk to in these difficult moments that we have.
I’ll end this podcast with just the message I ended that episode with last year that I would encourage you, don’t be afraid to seek help when you need help. Don’t be afraid to be open and to talk about the stress and the struggles and the anxiety that you feel as a professional in this space over the last couple years. If you’re stressed out, if there’s an emotional challenge that you’re faced with and you feel that for more than a few days or a few weeks, I would encourage you to talk to someone.
At a minimum, talk to a friend or a family member, or think about talking with a counselor, to think about talking to someone who is a professional. If you can’t do that, if you’re not willing to do that, talk with a coworker. Or maybe you’re religious and you’re a member of a church, and you can talk to your clergy to a pastor or a minister or a deacon. I’m Catholic, so deacons and priests are the people that we go and talk with about such things when we seek pastoral care. But you can talk with a mental health professional.
You can talk with your doctor. You can get a referral to a mental health professional from your physician. There’s a lot of routes that you can go where you can seek help and build the emotional resilience that you’re going to need in the days ahead to continue to lead your organization through what I hope is the end of this pandemic and the end of this war that we see in Europe. But more importantly, that you get the help that you need if you’re struggling. I say this saying that I don’t think we talk about this topic enough.
I think it’s important to try and have more of these kind of conversations openly about how we cope with and deal with stress and about how we can get help if it starts to feel overwhelming. Again, if you’re in crisis, I want you to get help right away. You can go to an emergency room or a clinic. You can talk to your doctor. You can get help from a mental health or a medical professional. You can talk to a family member or call a friend. One of the hotlines… There are hotlines you call, or call me. I will be your friend.
I know I don’t know all of you that listen to this podcast, but we’re in the same industry and we’re facing the same challenges. I’m your peer. Our office number is 612-235-6435. We should do more to talk about these things. That’s a little bit of a recap from the last year or so over the podcast, some of our most popular episodes. We’ll be back. That’s it for this addition of the Managing Uncertainty Podcast. We’ll be back next week with another new episode. Be well.