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Brexit - the opportunity?

Blog post   •   Jul 01, 2016 10:24 BST

Are business continuity managers internal optimists, and do we really believe that we will be effected by an incident? Do we peddle our profession secretly believing, or hoping, that it will never happen to us and that our plans will never be implemented? This has happened to me. I, until the very last moment, believed that ‘remain’ would prevail and I didn’t need to worry about the vote.

There was recently a section on the 1 o’clock news when a number of pollsters and punters gave their predictions for the vote, and almost all said they believed that remain would win. Even a farmer who had four pigs, two named after remain politicians and two named after the leave campaign, including one called ‘Boar-is’, and raced them every day to predict who would win, said the remain campaign would win as remain pigs won more races. I was so sure Brexit would never happen that I hadn’t even bothered to write a business continuity bulletin on the subject. The people in the BC Training office recycled a Scottish Independence bulletin to cover the subject.

Perhaps I was not the only business continuity person who was of this mind-set. I was at the East Midlands BCI forum on the day of the vote, and there was very little talk of the referendum, perhaps we were all fed up of the agro associated with it, and absolutely no talk of any contingency plans for Brexit.

So what should we be doing, as business continuity people, to deal with this new situation? If, like me, you haven’t prepared for this, then let me share a few thoughts:

A good incident tool is to plan for different scenarios taking into account all the different variables. Will it be the two year exit under Article 50 which will be fast and unpredictable, or will it be a slower negation, which gives us time to prepare? What is our exposure to European trade and how might if effect our staff if they are EU, non UK, citizens? There is also the extra dimension of a further Scottish referendum. As the news people would say, we are in uncharted territory, so I think you have to look at all variables and all possible options.

We should then look at what is our worst case, best case and most likely case, and develop appropriate risk mitigation measures. These should be agreed by top management and the organisation should monitor events as they occur and adjust the mitigation measures as the situation changes.

In all crises or incidents there is always an opportunity and the smart business continuity manager will recognise this. As David Cameron warned, we have now jumped out of the plane and we cannot clamber back into the cockpit, so we must embrace the change and look for the opportunity that this new world brings. Maybe it is also for me to review my business continuity plan, because as we tell everyone else, the incident we don’t want to happen could occur tomorrow!

Charlie Maclean-Bristol is a Fellow of the Business Continuity Institute, Director at PlanB Consulting and Director of Training at Business Continuity Training.

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