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The Paradox of Preparation

April 2, 2020

Nothing Catastrophic Happened Today: Why Effective planners are thrust into the shadows of the metaphorical firefighters. 

It is hard not to engage in discussions surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic. A recent article by Jason Kottke titled “The Paradox of Preparation” provides a valuable

perspective for which we see every day in the medical cannabis and CBD industry. The read is a painful reminder of how easy businesses can come to the conclusion that developing robust Business Continuity Plans are unnecessary, over-reactionary, and down right boring if thought of at all. Credit is never given when lives are saved because of proper planning. There is no breaking news in “The World Continues To Function” or “Nothing Catastrophic happened today”. In particular:

“Epidemiologist Mari Armstrong-Hough made a similar point earlier on Twitter: You won’t ever know if what you did personally helped. That’s the nature of public health. When the best way to save lives is to prevent a disease rather than treat it, success often looks like an overreaction.

Preparation, prevention, regulations, and safeguards prevent catastrophes all the time, but we seldom think or hear about it because “world continues to function” is not interesting news. We have to rely on statistical analysis and the expert opinions of planners and officials in order to evaluate both crucial next steps and the effectiveness of preparatory measures after the fact, and that can be challenging for us to pay attention to. So we tend to forget that preparation & prevention is necessary and discount it the next time around.”

Simplistic diagram of the relationship between strategic and tactical/operational programs

This partially explains the situation we are in, actually debating economics v. health, when the reality is the two are inextricably linked. What’s missing is a focus on answering the question: What happens next? We need to address the health concerns tactically (now) while at the same time planning on how to effectively manage the long term (strategic) economic recovery.

Take a look at your own organization. Are you really all that different? Odds are that the same lack of understanding in how costly the absence of planning is sits right under your nose.

“Preparation, prevention, regulations, and safeguards prevent catastrophes all the time…”

I am referencing strategic planning and business continuity planning.  A company needs to develop a 1 year and 5 year plan (Strategy), figure out the financials, (budget, sales, expenses, etc.), and convert this into tangible, physical pieces and parts that make up the supply chain and customer products, known as the operations plan (Tactical). The tactical details include important criteria like vendor selection processes, which form the structure of your supplier and quality agreements (Fig 1).

Figure of data decision making process described in text

These take regulations into consideration and include safeguards and prevention steps to “prevent” an interruption of commerce.

Business Continuity Planning is the safeguard for when things go south or, if you are monitoring your processes, about to go south of your operational planning.  Having a strong “Plan B” in place, including internal procedures, may seem like unnecessary plans, an “overreaction”, burning brain cells activity, until one is needed. What is more appealing - managed crisis or crisis management?

We must rely on statistical analysis and the expert opinions of planners and officials in order to evaluate both crucial next steps and the effectiveness of preparatory measures after the fact, and that can be challenging for us to pay attention to...

The way out of the COVID-19 pandemic is adequate data collection. Where is the disease? Map where infected people are (hotspots). Trace infections back to patient zero - How and when did they contract it?  ALL health officials are screaming for this data. It will help coordinate where and when resources are needed (Fig 2).

1. Information/data

2. statistical analysis and

3. Informed decisions.

Our team can help you prepare a robust Business Continuity Plan, or assist with the timely review and improvement based on new data. Drop us a line here to learn how we can help you with this or any other offerings.


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