The importance of cultural issues to Business Continuity Management Programmes 

Managers who have to design BCM for the organisation must understand that culture is a real issue and that it will make a difference in the way that decisions are made and possible solutions to problems are sought. The culture of any groupings will have to be taken into account for any given situation. Any changes to be introduced should have at their centre the values of the organisation and these values should be explicitly promoted as part of that change. BC Managers should also be aware that changes in culture are also closely linked to structure and it would not help to advocate any changes in one area as a total solution to all organisational problems. It seems probable that large, dispersed organisations will have the tendency for parochial methods, goals and local cultures. To avoid the chances of disintegration, it is thought that any change must be approached with the intention of giving a constant message and with the corporate purpose in mind. All changes should have the full backing of top management. If the will is not there from the top of the organisation then any programme will be seen as transitory and only lip service would be paid to it whilst it was in vogue. The meaning and consequences of any structural changes and information should be clear and consistent with the espoused culture of the organisation.

To have any chance of achieving success in implementing BCM within an organisation the BC Manager will need to have the support, guidance and leadership of top management in order to provide the necessary structure to be able to cross organisational barriers to gain the required organisational expertise. A vital element for successful BCM is that the BC Manager has an understanding of the context of the organisation and people issues and recognises company culture and its importance in embedding BCM into the organisation. However, BC Managers, especially in multi-national and multi-cultural organisations, will need to be aware of organisational cultures and should not attempt introduce a ‘one size fits all’ BCM system for the whole organisation.

An effective BCM culture is likely to occur when there is alignment between organisational values and its strategic goals, on the one hand, and the values and work goals to which individual employees are both intrinsically motivated and committed.  If these organisational values and goals and the individual values are not recognised it may lead to BC managers constantly making wrong judgements about people and groups. If this occurs this often says more about what the BC manager’s culture is rather than it does about the culture of others.

The dangers to the successful introduction and implementation of BCM could well come from where these different values held by work groups may, for often different reasons, be in opposition to BCM and organisational goals. Many organisations can be locked in the mind-set of their dominant work groups and without a change occurring, the organisation will retain its present power structure and will not see beyond, or will only be interested in, the status quo and where, by the very nature of their work, different parts of the organisation will have different priorities and divergent goals.

If there are two or more groups within an organisation then the BC Manager may well have to deal with and accommodate different types of dynamics in order to achieve the introduction and implementation of BCM into the organisation. In reality, a BC Manager will normally only be able to try to modify the working environment where they would be looking to achieve a change in the behaviour of the workforce by amending systems and processes and tapping into the existing values of the staff. Without some form of change programme it would appear that any organisation will have a tendency to generate inertia and remain attached to its original assumptions and  behaviours.

All change tends to fuel some resistance and the consequence of misreading the organisation can lead to strong resistance from staff at all levels of the organisation as they could regard any changes as being against the values held by them and would be not be seen as being appropriate if the organisation is not in crisis. This may well lead to staff being unsupportive of any measures that the BC manager may wish to achieve.

To facilitate change it may be beneficial for BC Managers to introduce a programme of organisational learning for staff at all levels of the business through the provision of a training, exercise and awareness programme to aid team building. This initiative would be a method to develop the necessary decision making processes and goals for the BC management system. The provision of this programme could also lead to better cross functionality of staff, participation and information of the purpose of BCM within the organisation and highlight its critical functions. The aim of this would be to initially change the behaviour of staff but could, in the longer term, lead to a change in overall organisational culture.

How can Biscon help?

Biscon Planning Limited is a leading and well respected independent supplier of Risk and Business Continuity Management requirements, who have expertise experience, and access to specialist knowledge. Biscon have successfully introduced and implemented business continuity strategies, policies and plans into many organisations through recognising both commonalities and differences in their approach and using their knowledge, personal experience and industry best practices to facilitate the successful implementation of your BCM system.

At Biscon, we do not believe in a one-size-fits-all approach and so create bespoke plans that are tailored to suit the individual needs of our clients. A BCP delivered by Biscon would help your organisation meet its core objectives of maintaining its operations following any acute disruption to your normal activities. Our programmes of work can deliver such requirements as an operational Risk Register, a Business Impact Analysis that highlights the impact on functions and activities and a comprehensive Business Continuity Management Plan.

Biscon can provide you with a FREE ‘Health Check’ of your current levels of resilience; just give us a call to arrange yours.

If you need assistance with any aspect of your Business Continuity programme, then call Biscon on 01453 889250 or email Jim at jimnield@biscon.co.uk. Also see our website; www.biscon.co.uk for further information.