Atlanta snowIf you’re paying attention to the news at all, you will have seen the debacle that Winterstorm Leon has wreaked on the Deep South, most notably in Atlanta. See this recent article from The Weather Channel…

Atlanta isn’t prepared for snow or snowstorms. It’s not dubbed “Hot-lanta” for nothing. However as we all know, strange things happen at the most inopportune times. This winter storm has been deadly and has forced hundreds of people to literally abandon their cars on the highway and sleep in convenience stores. One of my colleagues took 16 hours to get home from the airport, for what would normally be a 30 minute ride.

So what’s this mean to you? Three things…

  1. You’re probably not prepared for the unthinkable. You have undoubtedly planned for the Big 3 – fire, technology, and loss of power. Unfortunately, you’ve left 90% of other catastrophes available to hurt you. Like Atlanta, the one that you most disregard will be the one that bites you in the behind. Hard.
  2. People will make decisions for their own well being, not the groups. As much as your employees might love you, in a pinch they will opt for their own self-interest over yours unless you train them to do otherwise. Employers do a mediocre at best job of preparing and training employees on what to do in a crisis. The ramifications of this are severe. The Atlanta drivers left their cars abandoned. What will your employees leave behind?
  3. Planning is 90% of the battle. Drivers in Atlanta apparently were caught unprepared. Businesses were, too. Too many people I talk to suffer from one of the three enemies of readiness and preparedness – apathy, complacency, and arrogance. Planning for preventing a crisis, risk mitigation and disaster recovery takes less of an investment for the average small business than what you pay for copier paper. They don’t do it because they don’t know how to start and they don’t know where they are going. Ignorance is never a good reason for not doing your job. For executives and business owners, crisis strategy and leadership is your job.

As I always tell my clients, the world is constantly giving us lessons on the consequences of crisis and why it should be a priority in your business. Those that ignore it end up learning the hard way at some point, whether they realize it or not. Those that take proactive steps to prevent and mitigate their risk, end up saving hundreds of thousands of dollars over the course of years because they either never suffered the disaster, or they dramatically improved their ability to rapidly recover.

Are you prepared for your next “Winterstorm,” whatever it may come calling as?

P.S. If you’re reading this and don’t own or manage a business, consider your own home as your corporate office. How prepared are you and your family? What necessities do you have in the trunk of your car in case of emergency (blanket, water, first aid kit, flashlight, batteries, etc.). This reminder goes out to you, too!

© 2014 Dan Weedin. All Rights Reserved

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