The ‘new normal’ propounded by management gurus a few years back was that ‘change is the only constant’. Companies, said the gurus, must constantly change, innovate and reinvent themselves in order to remain competitive and successful. They applied their mantra to everything from marketing to manufacturing to supply chain – with varying results. Victories included moves to lean and green manufacturing that saved money and the planet at the same time. Less fortunate changes have included Microsoft Windows 8 and (some time ago) Coca-Cola’s new Coke. Sometimes continuity itself is the best business continuity there is, but how can you tell?
Sometimes change cannot be avoided. But if people in an organisation perceive change as non-essential, difficult or requiring more time and effort for the same results, enthusiasm is likely to be lukewarm at best. This is particularly true when they see themselves as victims of somebody else’s plans. Conversely, change is more readily accepted when it is judged to be essential (‘we must do this to avoid layoffs’) or desirable (‘your jobs and pay will improve’). Other factors may also exist: the Hawthorne studies showed decades ago that workers appreciated change because they interpreted it as interest shown by management in their work.
Naturally, this has a bearing on business continuity as well. Despite its name, business continuity means change when a situation needs to be altered to avoid vulnerability in an enterprise or mitigate high risks of failure. In these cases, there may be opportunities to show how moving towards better levels of business continuity can help employees have more confidence in the future, management to reduce stress and workload, and directors to improve overall profitability. Nevertheless, that doesn’t mean that everything has to change either. Where appropriate, effective business continuity also makes allowances for ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’.