Recently, I stumbled upon the show Doomsday Preppers. The show highlights three or four groups of people who are preparing for a separate catastrophic event that will change the world as we know it. Though the event they are preparing for differs, the approach to planning their survival is often the same. As I watched, I started thinking “These folks have the concept of risk management and continuity figured out.” This article focuses on the concepts of risk management and continuity planning and what doomsday preppers can teach us about these concepts.
In risk management, the first step is to assess the threats to your unique situation. From this risk assessment, you then allocate your resources to mitigating the threats with the highest threat and priority to you organization. Doomsday Preppers have completed a risk assessment on their unique, current situation. It is from their personal assessment, that there is in fact enough risk to allocate their resources (time and money) to prepare for the worst case scenario in a manner that it is in fact going to happen. On this surface, this is the purpose of completing a risk assessment; assess your business’s unique situation and the threats that exist to your operational assets. Next, put controls in place to mitigate these threats.
The Preppers have identified threats to their livelihood, from massive financial crashes to devastating earthquakes. After the identification of these threats, Preppers begin putting mitigating controls in place, including homes built from shipping containers to learning advanced survival techniques. Once these controls are in place, and I should add, continuously improved and tested (one family actually fired guns at their home to ensure the walls could not be penetrated by bullets. Talk about penetration testing!). Continuity plans are put in place, including stockpiling food and fuel, as well as developing plans for evacuation and relocation to ensure the ongoing survival of the Preppers and their loved ones.
While doomsday Preppers are preparing for an absolute worst case scenario, business leaders can learn from their efforts in regards to risk management and business continuity. Though we may always hope for the best, it is an absolute necessity to prepare for the worst. As one family put it “Have backups for your backups.” As business leaders we must understand the possibilities of black swans and the operational risk that are present. You never know what tomorrow brings, so it is essential to prepare for a potential threat to become a reality that could completely halt business operations.