BCM and Santa Claus

Context

How do you see the relation between BCM and Santa Claus? Consider a complex organization with production halls and logistics units based at the North Pole, traditionally very much in the thick of things around Dec. 25. As you can imagine, the planning for this event involves an entire year. The CEO “Santa” is not even five minutes back from delivering the packages, or the cycle begins again. And he constantly has to solve unexpected problems that require urgent attention….

The ‘BCM and Santa Claus’ story

An imposter

This year it started early. Santa had just put the sleigh in the garage, or he was already being taken to task by the Misses Santa.  “What do all those reports on TV that show you kissing a baby’s mama mean?” she asks sternly. “W, w, what? Who?” stammered Santa.  He was able to explain that this was a case of identity switching. Santa’s image had taken a big hit at the hands of an imposter. He went straight to his Crisis Communications team, and after a quick intervention and a public apology, he could restore his reputation. He simply cannot afford for his clients to imagine that he is naughty in any way….

Strike

February brought many ice storms in the Arctic.
“Santa, it is currently far too cold for the Elves to work,” the Elves manager said and security elf him, “I have given the order to lay off work.” Strike !  Santa sighed and reached for the Golden Pages on the Internet, “Hello, heating engineers? Is it possible for you to get my Elves back to a pleasant working temperature…”.   Despite the interruption, and by willingly knocking overtime, the Elves were quickly back on schedule.

Pandemic

Business was good, and work went uninterrupted until the migratory birds returned from their winter habitats in the spring. Unrest grew among the Elves that the wild birds would carry the dreaded H5N1 bird flu. This raised fears of an outright epidemic. Santa consulted the WHO website to get the latest advice.

“There is currently very little risk of bird flu. The birds returning are from distant countries with no known outbreaks of H5N1 virus, but to be sure I will appoint a few guards to keep an eye on the health of the birds,” Santa told his Elves. He hoped he would not have to deploy more guards when the herds of wild reindeer returned. After all, he had read that the blue tongue virus was spreading north, and he already had a reindeer with a red nose…. Lucky there was no real threat for a pandemic.

Hacked

The summer vacations, like every year, had their typical problems: kids with too much time on their hands and nothing to do, were on the lookout to do mischief. This year the alarm came from Santa’s Exploitation elves, who came in a panic to tell him that some naughty kids had hacked into the “Good and Naughty” database that morning, setting everything to “good.” There was no more way to know who had been good and naughty for the last six months. Fortunately, Santa knew the latest technological gadgets and restored it from a back-up. For completeness, he then ran another virus scanner over the servers, reset the Firewalls and ordered all the Elves to change their passwords. So criminals cannot hack them again.

Maintenance problem

In the fall, fortunately, there were no further problems that tired Santa. But December 24, as every year, was nail-biting: the dress rehearsal for the 25th. The elves loaded Santa’s sleigh and hoisted the herd of reindeer into their harnesses. Santa climbed into the saddle at the front of the sleigh, took the sleigh’s reins in one hand, and turned the key in the sleigh’s ignition with the other. A short growl from the rocket engines and nothing more. He turned the key in the ignition again. Another short growl from the engines and then nothing more. Santa realized that last year, while solving the reputation problem, he had forgotten to turn off his sled’s lights. Result: a dead battery. This was a maintenance problem.

Fortunately, at Misses Santa’s insistence, the startup test did go on Dec. 24. Of course Santa didn’t like the fact that he already had to hoist himself into his sleigh when he hadn’t finished his annual dinner and he had to leave all those tasty pieces of cake, and of course the Elves complained that they would have to unload and reload the wagon for technical maintenance. But Misses Santa had persuaded Santa to perform the test anyway before the big present day arrived. They replaced the dead battery with a charged one, and on Dec. 25 all the really good kids got the right presents thanks to Santa’s Business Continuity Provisions….

Manu Steens

Manu works at the Flemish Government in risk management and Business Continuity Management. On this website, he shares his own opinions regarding these and related fields.

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