Wednesday, 1 April 2015

London Rush Hour Chaos: Where was your Business Continuity Plan?

Is it not slightly eerie that before a holiday/festive season we are hit with some sort of Chaos. (Think back to the ever so common extreme snow shutting down airports/flight delays etc  just before Christmas at the most.)

Today London was hit by chaos of a huge underground fire  in Holborn. Probably one of the most stressful stations of commuter traffic with mass office evacuations and major safety concerns.

2,000 people at least evacuated outside, I came home and was greeted by an excited flatmate who told me how the chaos unravelled to which I excitedly (and possibly on work mode) started quizzing her about what the companies BCP was, what was their incident response like? What about calling cascades?


As it turned out, it was a bit of a mess!! Luckily she had some idea of the importance of BC planning. The Scene went something along the lines of this: 

Two evacuations and experience of seeing windows filled with black smoke , freezing in the cold a group of people (as I presume a quite a few may have been) were  having discussions about  what they would do and how they are gong to communicate in this incident
  • One person says they will email everyone an update , but how would they do that as all the laptops were in the office said another;
  • Next mentioned the contractors and people who had their laptops stuck in the building so even if the person sent an email over a work phone not everyone would get it;
  • 'Oh, yes, never thought of that'. Someone else mentions, and the conversations continue. 
  • What's our BCP? asks another;
  • What is that???
  • SILENCE!
In-between all the what if's and blank stares of what a Business Continuity Plan was, and a Calling Cascade/Tree and sudden realisation on who has to call whom, it was quickly established who the key person was in 'running the show'.

Meanwhile, the CEO of this particular company, was at home, (probably having a French lesson) with no clue what was happening and if his staff were safe. 

I reminded my flatmate that sometimes in times like this, the CEO may not be the best person to manage a BC incident, this would be a good time to observe who the 'go to' person was who was managing this, and that the CEO would be there for support of major decisions, and obviously there to take accountability for the safety of his staff, whilst realistically delegating that responsibility to a competent trusted person. 

Everyone was sent home, and then told to come in as normal tomorrow unless contacted. Despite not having a proper plan, it was evident the incident was so far managed, however, it just goes to show that what was once seemed as an unrealistic scenario,  actually has become a common thing. It reminds me of a time a Head of department laughed when I talked of our building catching on fire. 

You all know what I will be doing first thing tomorrow morning? Sending this link out and saying: This could happen to us; Where is our BCP? Where was yours? 


Read more about the details of what happened earlier today via the below link:

RISKercizing until next time..

p.s. london's spirit and the power of social media in communicating in an incident is just outstanding. stay safe.