I’m fond of the old military saying: “two is one, and one is none.” It reminds me to have a backup or a spare for critical equipment when I’m on the boat. I can’t run to the corner store if something goes wrong when I’m at sea, so I need to be able to replace or repair critical parts of the boat. Otherwise, we could be in for a long, hard, and potentially dangerous trip.
But why is this important for business? Why is having backups and redundancy essential, and how do these make you faster in a crisis?
The first thing you’re doing is avoiding key person risk: only one person can conduct some critical activity. Usually, that’s a key decision-maker, but it could also be the person that has signing authority for checks or can authorize a press release. If only one person can fulfill a critical function and they’re not there, the whole response will grind to a halt.
(That’s why we talk about adding alternates to your chain of command. That way, if someone’s missing, you know who their backup is and can call them in.)
The second reason for adding redundancy is that your response isn’t delayed if a critical system goes down.
- Can’t access the video meeting space? Jump onto a conference call.
- Your office is inaccessible and you can’t use the regular meeting room? Head to an off-site space.
- Online versions of your crisis response plans corrupted? Have a paper copy available.
These kinds of delays would otherwise bring things to a screeching halt but won’t be as affected if you’ve got backups in place.
Third and finally, you need to be able to handle a surge in activity. Add additional capacity to your system – whether that’s extra people or system capacity – which will remain unused until there’s a surge in demand. That might mean having a few additional people trained for social media monitoring. Perhaps you have external consultants who can add capacity at short notice. Maybe it’s something as simple as setting up additional phone lines for media inquiries.
Now you’re able to cope with a surge in demand by immediately putting these otherwise redundant services into action without delaying the response while you ramp things up.
And not only are these steps going to help you generate speed today. This redundancy will also help future proof your system because you’re better able to manage what might come at you tomorrow.
So please take a moment and think about your organization’s critical people and systems and how you can work around their absence. Add some capacity in each of these areas, and you’ll not only be faster today; you’ll be ready for what might come at you in the future.