Why ALL Contingency Plans are Doomed to Fail

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I know this has been addressed before, but I think it bears repeating.

Corporations and governments are putting together elaborate plans for business continuity for the rollover. Generators are being purchased, raw materials stockpiled, command and control centers established. Yes sir, we've got all of our ducks in a row.

But wait! What should the employees do to prepare? What are THEIR contingency plans? They don't need any. No need to prepare. They have a couple of extra cans of food in the cupboard. No need to take out any cash or fill up that gas tank. Lord no, because we all know "airplanes won't fall from the sky".

So on January 3rd, 4th, 5th , when the power is still out, and the stores, schools, daycares and grocery stores are closed, and the gas pumps won't pump gas, and no one can/will come to work, all of the elaborate planning is for naught.

Contingency plans, without anyone to implement them, are worthless.

This is the ultimate in stupidity.

-- Roland (nottelling@nowhere.com), July 30, 1999



-- Amused (none@youbusiness.com), July 30, 1999.


You have left yourself wide open by saying ALL contingency plans will fail. ALL is a very big word when used in this context.

I do believe that some contingency plans may fail, but also that many will not even be needed, and most of those that are needed will work.

The errors in your statement are in assuming that the power will fail when it probably won't. That it will still be out on the 3rd, 4th and 5th, when even if there is an outage it should have been restored by then. That stores, daycares, etc are closed, why?. And that no-one can/will come to work, yet even in the worst circumstances many will still come to work.


-- Malcolm Taylor (taylorm@es.co.nz), July 30, 1999.

1. Each of us is responsible for making our own contingency plans with regards to our personal needs. Does the CEO of the corporation you work for show up at your house with groceries each week? Oooh, orange sherbet, thanks boss. Now where's the three-ply bathroom tissue I've been raving about?

Do you honestly expect your company to take an interest in you outside the office? To take a stand on Y2K by issueing prep lists, sources, etc. to each employee? What do you expect from your employer? Your local government? Please elaborate.

2. You're making the assumption that the power grid will go down. That's a guess at best. Or do you have an insider anecdote?

FWIW, I can see you are frustrated by the lack of solid information coupled with a dearth of serious discussion. Who isn't?

Best Wishes,

-- Bingo1 (howe9@pop.shentel.net), July 30, 1999.


Your point is valid and this is another problem which does not 'go away' because of opinion, planning, etc. People still make it all work. Any questions about this ask what happens on a programming team when a key member is away (hint - not much until they return).

There is alot of disconnect in management thinking. I suppose one could say that this event and its aftermath will be a judgement of management above all else..however well or poorly they collectively and individually performed. We very well may have proof of the pudding that people don't manage very well (if that is needed).

Hope you are safe and secure and have provided for yours and those who might come to your door.

-- ..- (dit@dot.dash), July 30, 1999.

How is it that so many are so sure the power WILL work? Is it because government leaders and big business said so? Or is it from your own independent analysis and queries to your local utility? All these so-called experts on this forum - yet not one has taken up my offer to examine the data themselves. It seems everyone has taken a position, and defending that position is all anyone is interested in. And crazy Tim? I STILL don't know how much will fail or when. I have no position to defend because I still don't know, who does? I say those same government leaders and big business - they know. Like another poster say's, watch what they do, not what they say. My offer still stands - anyone that wants to take the time to examine these Excel files I got from NERC's site, e-mail me, I'll send them right over. Come on experts, put your intellect where your mouth has been.

-- Tim Castleman (aztc@earthlink.net), July 30, 1999.


I think that as far as business continuity is concerned, this is the $64,000 question. It has been addressed before, and it should be addressed again. Actually, it probably should be a whole field of study. And not simply in terms of prep for the first week in January, but beyond that as well.

But you know what? I think that with the exception of a few smaller companies, it ain't gonna happen. Oh, you might get a few corps. that send a flyer to each employee with the standard 3-day line, but not much beyond that. (mainly because that's all they think it's gonna be) In my opinion, this whole area is one of the big black holes of this whole issue. And, like everything else, waiting until Thanksgiving for companies to address this with their employees will be too late...

-- pshannon (pshannon@inch.com), July 30, 1999.

Roland, I agree. Who will implement the contingency plans? And how can they be implemented if there is, for example, a power grid failure.

The company I work for expects me to be on-site or at least available (I work in an IT department). But what if my home, my family is affected by power outage, etc. I'm not planning to leave home 'til I know all is well there.

One of my managers said he would "slap" anyone who was at the office without first seeing to his own family. I was encouraged by his words...but now he has resigned.

-- Me (skucheravy@hotmail.com), July 30, 1999.

A handful of corps ARE contingency planning for their top people, but not for the AVERAGE WORKER...They're TOAST!!!

-- K. Stevens (kstevens@It's ALL going away in January.com), July 30, 1999.

A handful of corps ARE contingency planning for their top people, but not for the AVERAGE WORKER...They're TOAST!!!

It's payback time for TWO DECADES of corporate rapaciousness...

-- K. Stevens (kstevens@It's ALL going away in January.com), July 30, 1999.

What? You want big business to suddenly show concern for its employees? No No No. You will never make it to the head of the rat race that way!!!

You don't understand. Human beings or "Wetware" are expendable and replaceable. You see if someone doesn't show up for work you just replace them with someone hungrier. Heck. Call a temp agency!!!

Make sure that you eliminate all your most experienced employees whenever possible. They cost too much and have the audacity to question management decisions from time to time. Much better to have a part-time temp or consultant that you can fire in a heartbeat (if they appear to threaten your own political position within the company/industry).

Always remember to be upbeat. Never give your boss or client an unpleasant truth to swallow. When (inspite of all your efforts to the contrary to ignore and repress the problem) it comes to light - be sure to lie about it as long as you possibly can and then blame it on someone else - preferably the most recent hire.

Unprepared employees? Non-Y2k compliant wetware? Who needs 'em. We'll just do an automated work-around.

-- R (riversoma@aol.com), July 30, 1999.

OK, maybe I exagerated (a bit). It just seems to me that it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out the disconnect.

My company is fairly SCREAMING at the employees that they need not prepare, yet are including extensive power outages in their contingency plans. I would submit that this is true of virtually every Fortune 5000 company.

Why would management set themselves up for this kind of disaster? Let's face it, one week without power is NOBODY's idea of "worst case". Yet after just one week, the average employee will have an empty gas tank and no way to get to the office, even if they wanted to.

THIS, I truly "don't get".


-- Roland (nottelling@nowhere.com), July 30, 1999.

Roland, You'll never make a manager. How fortunate for you. At least you won't have to worry about being hanged.

-- ..- (dit@dot.dash), July 30, 1999.


I don't think you exaggerated at all. Businesses need people to function. Its all well and good to have fix on failure if the people doing the fixing are ok.

You can build a big beautiful castle made of sand but once the walls start to crumble the structure will fall down. Sure you can rebuild the sand castle. As long as there is someone to rebuild it. If the sand castle collapses on its creators then collapsed it will stay.

-- R (riversoma@aol.com), July 30, 1999.

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