Archive for the ‘Overall Business Strategy’ Category

Thinking about Winter, Snow, Holidays and Calories

November 12th, 2015 by Mary Kay Hyde-Bohn

The climate cycle continues in North America – it’s Winter in the mountains to the west of my office windows. Let’s review some of the scenarios that we might encounter for the next 5 to 6 months.

First on the list is the nuisance called Daylight Savings time: we need to change every device that displays time. The manual devices are fairly easy to remember and adjust; the electronic devices are going to be discovered for days after the change, then you either punch a teeny tiny button or unfold a paper clip to depress a hidden button multiple times and then repeat as you’ve over-corrected (sigh). It's 2 weeks since change and I'm still finding devices to correct 🙁

Next is preparing your vehicle: do you need to change tires or pack chains in your truck? Check to see if chains are required on any of the roads you travel and then you’ll have them if needed. How about your personal winter kit?

Red Cross, FEMA, state governments (Colorado for example) and even TV channels offer these checklists.

  • If your business has vehicles, your contracted maintenance provider should be ready to schedule checks on all your vehicles
  • YOU/your company’s insurance agent should have a winter driving review session for anyone that drives company vehicles.
  • Your company vehicles should add winter items to the existing emergency pack or check to refresh items already in the kit.

Third (or first) on your list are all the holidays coming up and what is your organizational vacation strategy or plan?

  • The company’s plan for shut down or limited operations should be published already.
    • Do you have an existing personnel strategy around those plans?
    • What is the mechanical plan for the shut down? Is this time for maintenance?
    • Have the Facilities and Security teams been involved with plan?
  • The individual vacation plans should be considered with the whole operation or team in mind. If a key person is going to be gone then what is the plan? Is their backup available? Has the training been refreshed?
  • Ensure all the phone and email notifications mention that the person is away from desk and the expected date back at work.
    • Avoid mentioning any personal travel plans due to safety/security of personal nature.
    • If a backup is available, mention that person by name and phone number
  • If company signage needs to be updated, schedule that task as soon as possible so it’s done when you close the door or the last person turns off the lights.

Next on the list is Calories to be consumed during the holidays:

  • If this means at a company sponsored event, be sure that you self-manage your plate and glass.
    • Company event planning is whole separate subject --- too many factors to discuss here.
  • Consider reflecting on your calorie intake in 24 or 48 hour blocks of time.
  • Plan for walks or exercise on a daily basis and keep to your schedule!
  • Don’t beat yourself for enjoying the flavors available, just be aware of portions.

Last on the list is ‘time for reflection’:

  • Take time to refresh & restore your energies
  • Take time to reflect on the good business during previous year; celebrate the good stuff!
  • What needs to improve? List any details you think of for the budgeting portion of the plan.
  • What are you going to do in January or first quarter? You have the space and time to think about those ‘grand pans’ now

You need a community or several

August 15th, 2015 by Mary Kay Hyde-Bohn

Business owners need a place to cuss and discuss those items related to their daily or strategic business problems. That place is a ‘community’, whether it’s virtual or with a coffee/lunch group. A great example of ‘community’ is your local Chamber of Commerce.

Communities as described in Wikipedia:

FCChamberLogoA community is a social unit of any size that shares common values. In human communities, a number of other conditions may be present and common, affecting the identity of the participants and their degree of cohesiveness. The word "community" is derived from the Old French comuneté or Latin communitas , a broad term for fellowship or organized society.[1] One broad definition which incorporates all the different forms of community is "a group or network of persons who are connected (objectively) to each other by relatively durable social relations and who mutually define that relationship (subjectively) as important to their social identity and social practice."[2]

BACoC-logoYour local Chamber of Commerce is a ‘community’. The geographical reach of a Chamber is defined by roads or highways or geography like rivers or mountains. You will find members of a Chamber that live in the immediate area and those that live at a distance with a connection to the area. Companies and organizations may have buildings or mobile workers. With the advent of internet technology the range of industries and job functions in the community is unlimited. One of the ways to connect or meet these folks is through the local Chamber.

The initial connections for me are those Chambers that remind me of small towns I lived in growing up and the larger Chambers are for the larger cities where I’ve worked. Community physical size is not the priority -- personal connections that build a ‘community’ are the pull!

Introductions during Chamber events have helped my business processes and growth. I know that because of the ‘community connection’ I could call or email those new acquaintances and have a discussion in confidence or for mutual benefit. After a couple of my speaking engagements, I have gotten calls from attendees with questions that would not have been asked in open forum and I was able to help with references or possible solutions.

There was a recent gathering of 6 area Chambers and it was a busy, loud event for several hours. The buzz of conversation with existing and new connections was energizing. The diversity of businesses and business owners/representatives was amazing – I learned so much! The pile of new business cards, names and businesses is still buzzing in my mind. I hope we’ll be able to re-connect and continue the conversations.

IF you are not inclined to join a Chamber of Commerce, you need to build a ‘community’ of your own – whether that is within your industry or geographical area, a business owner needs to be able to discuss and cuss with ‘like-minded’ people. You could get recommendations from your attorney, banker, CPA or insurance agent, vendors, sales reps or even Customers. For example, I am affiliated with Assoc. of Contingency Planners and Project Management International; they have monthly meetings, newsletters, free webinars that provide information and opportunities to converse with ‘like-minded’ people.

Business Continuity Partners of the West is focused on serving small and medium businesses because they are what make our towns and cities unique, colorful, and prosperous in more ways than money. We encourage those businesses to put some time into maintaining those elements of their business that might fail if not protected through good business continuity actions.

Are you prepared?

Communicate always and all ways!

August 15th, 2015 by Mary Kay Hyde-Bohn
Example of not wanting to have the conversation about Continuity or Disaster planning.

These 3 Buddha’s are sitting back, covering their eyes, mouth and ears. Just like an otherwise savvy business person ... who does not want to have the critical conversation about Continuity or Disaster planning.

The last two months have been a flurry of webinars with similar themes – you have to communicate during a Crisis to your employees, your customers, vendors, suppliers and local/regional community! The right words and the right media for individual audiences or public/strangers will fill the void with inaccurate misinformation – in other words, info-trash that will ruin your business or your reputation!

The after-event internal reviews have consistently brought up communication omissions or shortfalls to all audiences. The clean-up work due to misinformation or false information may take months to correct.

To summarize the main points of the discussions/webinars (not in any order):

DO’s

  • Define your audiences (internal & external)
  • Define the best method to reach each audience in times of crisis (may be different by audience)
  • Have draft texts ready for use by audience, type and severity of event(s)
  • Respect the gravity/severity of each event
  • Create checklists for each phase of crisis & decide communication actions
  • Create, train & exercise the team doing the Crisis Communicating; create team structure (authority or approval levels) and backups.
  • Make sure Communication team has IT authority to update media formats (add & remove)
  • Have plan for press/media conference room, if appropriate; all else is electronic if power is available.
  • Inform and train the employees on where to receive and send information
  • Communicate with Customers with media they normally use, if possible.
  • Engage with Emergency Response Team for ‘go/no go’ decision; confirm with internal Crisis Management team for severity level to work with.
  • Monitor other media outlets for information or misinformation
  • Post only most current information; remove old/dated information
  • Keep a running total of team time & effort
  • Log any IT issues for immediate and deferred correction – don’t try to fix a minor problem in the ‘heat of moment’.
  • Have a plan for power outage scenario.

Do Not’s

  • Forget the Communication checklist
  • Use one message for every audience; tailor each message for each audience & delivery media
  • Select only one media; use them all!
  • Create new accounts during crisis (Facebook, Twitter, etc.)
  • Make the media only one way; give opportunity to send feedback
  • Expect your company is the only one involved; share connections.
  • Expect for power to be available at all times.
  • Forget to keep a list of all messages sent, to what distribution list and what media.

The organizations that hosted these webinars have materials on their web sites for further reference:

FIRESTORM WEBINARS: http://www.firestorm.com/learn/form-download-brief-six-stages-of-crisis-for-communication-planning.html

Agility Recovery: http://www2.agilityrecovery.com/assets/slides/Agility-Social_Media.pdf

Everbridge; http://www.everbridge.com/control-communication-throughout-the-lifecycle-of-a-crisis/

Trivia word of the week - Cyber Hygiene

August 15th, 2015 by Mary Kay Hyde-Bohn

I am a bit of a trivia obsessed person; it comes with being in Business Continuity or Project Management (sigh). One of those trivia sources is ‘new words or phrases’ – hopefully these new words or phrases can describe a whole concept and save me time and breath.

The new phrase of the week is “Cyber Hygiene”. OK, the first thought was that it was elementary school and the Physical Ed or Health Ed teacher was going to deliver ‘the talk on personal hygiene’ – gender segregation of course…. Got a smile on your face?

Upon reflection and over the last couple days, this phrase has started to creep into the corners of my daily tasks. As I do both BCPW work and my volunteering duties, I started realizing how much I touch ‘cyber-space’ and that I have NOT done as much as I should to keep my areas clean (aka Hygiene). I have some daily or weekly habits, but not as disciplined on the other actions…. Must improve!

So let’s start listing all the areas that need to be cleaned up as these are your business tools, just like a good carpenter would keep tools sharp, clean and ready; we need to keep our tools ready to work! You should add more items to each of these lists as you find more way to keep your devices ‘sharp’.

Don’t try to do these all at once, you’ll get frustrated with your discoveries and discouraged! Take one device a day to get the base-line cleaning done, and then set your maintenance schedule.

Mobile/Smart phones: your battery will last longer if your device does not have to be constantly saving, sending and searching

    • Delete those old phone calls
    • Delete the old photos that are saved in multiple other locations
    • Delete old text messages
    • Check your email process: does your phone delete emails that you have administered on the PC? If not you are carrying lots of ‘old baggage’
    • Check your music or video storage for old, not desired material (Big memory hogs!)
    • Only turn on Cellular, Bluetooth or Wi-Fi, when you need to use it!
    • Verify your Privacy settings at least once a month
    • How many sessions are open on your device? Do you need all those waiting and searching all the time?
    • Turn your device completely off at least once per week, if not overnight
  • Have your charging cable plugged into a surge protected power strip

 

Local Printer: this one is scary, as printers have internal memory buffers or queues – especially if they do double-sided printing, scanning, faxing, etc.

    • Check with your printer vendor for details on cleaning out these queues, if it’s not obvious on the device
    • If your printer has a PC interface it will make cleaning much easier than trying to focus on the itty bitty screen on the printer
    • Clean out the printer queue
    • Clean out the scanner queue
    • Clean out the FAX queue
    • Turn off the printer from any router at least once per week
    • If your printer vendor offers security updates automagically, take them!
  • Have your printer plugged into a surge protected power strip

 

Personal PC or Mac (desktop or laptop)

    • Change your power-on password at least quarterly. More often if you use it in public networks (coffee shops, airports, etc.)
    • Run your base or primary Security software automagically and make sure you review the ‘delete or contained’ buckets to remove anything it finds
    • Additional security applications should be done either automagically or on a personal determined schedule (Thursday morning is my time for these)
    • Run defragmentation automagically; once per week if my default
      • Defragmentation will remove gaps in your hard drive and give you more space
    • Check your Recycle bin and clean it out weekly
    • If using an attached backup hard drive, make sure it gets defragged too (usually PC admin function will do this)
    • Set up ‘automatic backup’ on any of your working applications like word processing, spreadsheet, presentation, etc. (Many applications have defaults so review to see if that’s quick enough for your working habits)
    • Check your email ‘drafts’ area for old dusty files
    • Check the ‘temp file’ areas for old files (yes, there are several)
    • Check the ‘download’ area for old files
    • Review your working file area for multiple backups – how many do you really need (this is a document retention conversation) and if the backup drive already has several layers you don’t need them in the active working area.
    • Check your Recycle bin after each of the ‘cleaning sessions’
    • What about all the pictures or videos – are they stored on another device or burned on a CD?
    • How many sessions do you have open? Do you need all those? These will decrease your machine response time
    • You do need to run your device on battery often, so the battery knows how to work. If you only use direct power your battery will decrease its capacity over time – don’t expect the battery to last 4 hours if you have not used the battery for a couple months – you’ll be lucky to be running an hour!
    • You need to completely shut down your device at least once per week
  • Have your device plugged into a surge protected power strip

 

  • AND then there is your internet browser…
    • Separate tools for keeping the favorites, frequently used URLs (2 areas), and multiple sessions. If these are cluttered, it will decrease your response times too

Local Router

    • Need to change the password at least monthly if you are living in a highly populated area or near high traffic areas
      • This means all the devices that are ‘attached’ to the router need to be updated with each change
      • If you have ‘uninvited’ visitors using your router, they have access to every other device if they are curious
    • Shut down your router when on away from area for extended period of time
    • Modem: check with your provider to see what the allowable ‘power off’ time is before they cancel the account We turned both modem & router off for a couple weeks and had to have several conversations to re-activate the modem account (sigh)
  • Have both devices plugged into a surge protected power strip

 

Reminder: Don’t try to do these all at once, you’ll get frustrated with your discoveries and discouraged! Take one device a day to get the base-line cleaning done, and then set your maintenance schedule.

Succession Planning - Part II

April 7th, 2015 by Mary Kay Hyde-Bohn

Succession Planning - Part II

Succession planning for your staff (leadership or team leaders) is a part of over-all strategy that gets included in the business plan and budget for the year &/or the 3 to 5 year plan (a longer time frame gives you perspective vs. reaction). You might consider this a jig-saw puzzle trying to fit all the pieces together; however it might be more helpful to consider this exercise lining up dominoes – if you move one player out of sequence it will have a cascading effect without immediate replacement of a similar player. You want to prevent disruption in operations, internal morale or external relationships by having a plan or a structure in place and known.
As you go through the process you should include key staff in the discussion including the specific department to be discussed and the department (HR?) that will update (or create) job descriptions and finance that will need to consider the salary and training budgets.
The questions to ask yourself or the leadership team as you build your strategy are:

  • What skills are needed in Position A? Position B? Position C, etc.
    • Is that skills list documented in any job description?
    • Has the skills list been updated in the past year?
    • Has the skills list been validated by person doing the job now?
    • Have the skills list been validated by internal staff?

 

  • Who has those (or most) of those skills now?
    • Are they a good cultural fit for the leadership team (or team leader)?
    • What additional skills do they bring to the position?
    • Who would fill their current slot?
    • Filling the skills gap is part of your staff development budget & schedule

 

  • Who can be backup or vacation coverage for Position A?
    • HINT: this is a great time to access a potential candidate with marginal risk to the company or either employee and to do a bit of cross-over or transitional training. It gives the potential candidate an opportunity to shadow the current position holder performing the job to see if it might be of interest or a good fit. There will be time to say ‘no’ at any point during the exercise; again with minimal disruption or risk to the company or the employees.
    • What information does the backup need to know?
    • Where is that information documented?
    • Who has access to the documentation now?

 

  • Who would like to be in Position A?
    • What are their current skills?
    • Are they a good cultural fit for the leadership team?
    • What additional skills do they bring to the position?
    • Who would fill their current slot?