In this episode of the Managing Uncertainty Podcast, Bryghtpath Principal & Chief Executive Bryan Strawser discusses in detail the value of working with a Trusted Advisor before there is a disruption or crisis in your business. How can having an expert guiding your every move related to business continuity, disaster recovery, crisis management, and crisis communication be of value to you and your program?
Topics discussed include the value of a trusted advisor, coaching & advisory services, how a trusted advisor can help mature your program, and ways in which you might utilize a trusted advisor in a critical moment.
Related Episodes & Blog Posts
- Blog Post: Before the Crisis: The Value of a Trusted Business Continuity & Crisis Management Advisor
- Blog Post: Evaluating Business Continuity Programs: Is your Business Continuity Program ready for the next Disruption?
- Episode #50: Conducting an Effective After-Action Process
- Episode #63: Prioritizing Top Risks
Hello and welcome to the Managing Uncertainty Podcast. This is Bryan Strawser, principal and chief executive here at Bryghtpath. With today’s episode, I want to start off by kind of illustrating a situation and then getting into the real meat of this episode. And that is, I’ve been in this space about 30 years. And during that time, I’ve always been in some way, shape, or form on call. Sometimes a Bryghtpath client will call me late at night or early in the morning and they’re not checking in. It’s not a social call.
They’re not out having a drink and calling me to check in or have some discussion about family or anything like that. Something’s happened. Something’s happened at their company and they’re calling to ask for help. In my three decades in working in business continuity and crisis management, I’ve gotten calls because of workplace fatalities, active shooter incidents, data breaches, employees stranded in a foreign country because of civil unrest or geopolitical disruption, for natural disasters, hurricanes, earthquakes, tornadoes, executive malfeasance, and just many, many more.
If it’s happened, I’ve probably have dealt with it in some way, shape, or form. And that doesn’t count national and global disruptions like COVID. These are the ones that prompt phone calls and emails from every company we work with, and they’re all looking for help with their response. Every company deals with business disruptions and crisis situations, and no one wants to think about… For the most part, no one, other than us who work in the space, but no executive really wants to sit and think about how to manage a crisis situation at their business.
But I can tell you this, you will face crisis events and major business disruptions at your company. I don’t care where you operate, what industry you’re in, what country you’re in, what your supply chain looks like, sooner or later, you will face a crisis, a major business disruption, and your company will be on the line. The question is, are you prepared to respond? Are you ready to take immediate action to keep your people safe, to protect your assets, to react, adjust, and change to keep your business running despite that disruption?
And if you’re not sure about that, then let me talk with you about the benefits of working with a trusted advisor, a trusted expert before your next crisis happens. It’s not easy to know how your business continuity program compares to leading programs at other companies. That’s why this outside perspective can be invaluable. The first thing we do with companies here at Bryghtpath when they come to us looking for a trusted advisor relationship is to help you understand the strength of your current program.
And we do that by evaluating your program, as we’ve talked about in previous episodes. We use the ISO 22301 standard for organizational resilience as our guide. We review your current program capabilities, and we talk with your key employees and stakeholders. And from there, we grade your company across a variety of metrics using our maturity model. That lets you know where you stand. It identifies strengths and weaknesses and opportunities for improvement.
We compile all of that into a comprehensive report that we review with you and the executive stakeholders that want to be a part of that conversation. When a disruption happens, it will help you tremendously if you have an established relationship with a business continuity and crisis management expert. For example, at some point in March 2020, your company had a senior leadership meeting to discuss the rapidly evolving COVID-19 pandemic.
Whether you were in the room or not, maybe you were part of these really difficult decisions, everything from the health of your employees to laying people off to cut costs, if so, what was that like? Did you have a plan in place, or were you forced to improvise in the moment? Here at Bryghtpath, we were very busy in March and April of 2020, as you might expect. We’d been even busier though in January and early February helping companies prepare for the unexpected.
In fact, I was in London the first week of February 2020 to visit a client there, but also to get a handle on what the UK was seeing in Europe as the COVID pandemic unfolded in the European Union. When COVID-19 hit, the companies that we helped respond the fastest were the ones we were working with before the pandemic hit. We knew their businesses inside and out, and we understood their needs and their capabilities and what would be impacted. And as a result, we could move more quickly to help them adjust operations and keep their business running.
There’s also the media challenge. Your phone rings. It’s a reporter from your local newspaper or TV station. “We have a report that your CEO was arrested last night for driving while intoxicated. Do you want to comment?” Do you know what you would say? Do you know who you would call to ask for help? Here’s another area where working with a trusted advisor ahead of time can pay dividends. Here at Bryghtpath, we’ve worked with plenty of companies who have faced events like these.
As a part of our planning program, we help our clients prepare for disasters of all kinds, including public relations and reputation management disasters, like the one I just illustrated. You’ll be glad to have us on call to help with the media when they start calling. Some businesses know in advance that a specific type of disruption is likely. For example, a business that operates cloud-based software will have downtime. It’s just a matter of when. We call these known risks.
For our clients who have these known risks, then we help them get ahead of these issues by working proactively before the disruption happens. We do this in two ways. First, we look to see how we can mitigate the frequency of disruption by strengthening their processes and their systems however we can. And then second, we use proactive reputation management and PR strategies to mitigate that negative impact on their brand when disruptions happen.
When the inevitable occurs, these proactive efforts will minimize the negative impact to operations to both you and your brand. You’ll be ready because you will have taken the time to prepare, and you will have had the expert advice to help you do that. Having an existing relationship with a business continuity and crisis management expert can also be a major benefit when you’re dealing with senior executives and your board. For example, a former colleague of mine once called me from overseas.
She was working for a major Fortune 500 company and was dealing with a brewing public relations disaster involving charges of corruption and embezzlement at an overseas office. There were even allegations that could have triggered a Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, FCPA, investigation, even though these allegations were complete falsehood. The situation was changing rapidly and her executive team and her board members here in the United States were getting anxious about how to respond.
Some of them were advocating for a quite aggressive response, one that would have surely backfired and caused more trouble for the brand. Her ask? “I want you to work with my executive team tomorrow morning to help them navigate this situation. I want you to calm their nerves and convince them to take a more measured approach. By the way, I’m in China and I can’t be there, which is why I need you.” I went to her executive team in the morning and I provided our recommendation based upon our experience. And it worked. The story never gained traction in the media.
The internal disruption was ended shortly, and the brand survived the event just fine. We were able to do this for them because we had an existing relationship, a trusted relationship, where we were viewed as the outside experts who understood their operations, had a relationship with senior executives and the board and could make our advice stick. If a major natural disaster happens in your location, where will you go for up-to-date information?
If a major political demonstration happens in your town and threatens to get out of control, how will you stay up-to-date with what’s happening? When you work with a business continuity and crisis management expert like Bryghtpath, then you gain access to a wide network of information that simply might not be available through local news sources.
We work with and have long-standing relationships and contacts with national, state, and local agencies that can give you information during major crisis events and help protect your business operations and recover more quickly in the face of disruption. That’s the value of a trusted advisor. Maybe you’re in the midst of a crisis right now, or maybe you’re new to your role and you’re the beneficiary of a fairly mature business continuity, crisis management, and resilience program.
Whatever your situation is, the greatest value in working with an expert like us is access to our decades of experience and subject matter expertise. We can help you prepare for the unexpected. We can help you prepare your plans, train your team, and communicate your efforts to your executive team and your board of directors. And when the unexpected does happen, when you find yourself in that critical moment, we can help you respond quickly and effectively.
If we can help you with this in any way, please contact us at bryghtpath.com/contact. We work with the world’s leading brands, public sector agencies, and complex nonprofit organizations to strategically navigate uncertainty and disruption, and we can help you by being your trusted advisor. That’s it for this episode of the Managing Uncertainty Podcast. We’ll be back next week with another new episode. Be well.