Travel is good resilience practise...

As an experienced crisis manager, I like to ensure that my skills are regularly tested, but I didn’t plan on a re-test during the first two days of my recent holiday...

The plan

I was booked on a battlefield tour of northern France, leaving Paris on the morning of Saturday 20 April. My travel agent had booked my flights and arranged travel insurance.  A simple plan: depart Sydney at lunchtime on Thursday 18 April, arrive in Paris at lunchtime on Friday to join the pre-tour drinks that evening.  The tour itself would depart Paris after breakfast on Saturday. I had at least three hours between each leg on the flight from Sydney to Paris via Hong Kong and London, time for shopping and a walk around.  

What could possibly go wrong?


The flight into Hong Kong arrived more than four hours late, missing my connection to Paris by over an hour. The airline re-routed me to Paris via Frankfurt, arriving late on Friday. I’d miss the pre-tour meeting, but would still make the tour.  There was a three-hour layover in Frankfurt, which was a safe buffer. So far, so good.

I boarded the flight to Frankfurt on time, then promptly sat on the tarmac for two and a half hours. A half hour delay during the flight and I had missed my connection to Paris. Ticketing conditions meant I was now stuck in Frankfurt and had to make my own arrangements. So much for making the start of the tour!


The first problem was my luggage, which had been checked through to Paris. Fortunately, it was retrieved after a short search by the airline. Meanwhile, I spoke with the tour director to explain the situation. We agreed the tour would start without me and I would meet them in Ypres, Belgium on Saturday evening. The Tour Director gave me the website for Belgian trains, the address of the hotel in Ypres, and wished me luck...

I got a room at an airport hotel, where I booked the first flight to Brussels on Saturday morning and a train to Ypres. Fortunately, my credit card could cover these additional costs.

Destination achieved

I arrived in Ypres mid-afternoon on Saturday and met my Tour Director as agreed at 5PM; mission accomplished!

The rest of my trip involved many buses, trains, cars and three international flights, all without further delay or incident. My travel insurer reimbursed me a month later for the additional costs of the hotel in Frankfurt, the flight to Brussels and the train to Ypres.

What went well?

What helped me respond to the disruption?

  • I am an experienced traveller – practise and preparation

  • I keep a specific credit card for emergencies – contingency planning

  • My focus was to join the tour; Paris was only a waypoint – focus on the outcome

  • I communicated with my Tour Director and sought their advice – use all your resources

  • The Tour Director and I were pragmatic – focus on solutions

  • A mobile phone with global roaming and an internet connection is a fantastic tool – contingency planning

Why have insurance?

I was the one who had to build the response plan to my disruption. My insurer could have done nothing to help me directly. So why have it?

Simply, travel insurance allowed me to recoup unplanned expenses after I had recovered from the disruption. It gave me peace of mind that my holiday budget would not blow out.

What does this mean for you?

Consider my story and think about your business. Ask yourself:

  • How effectively have I developed my people and organisation to identify, assess, notify and respond to disruptions?

  • How practised am I in responding to disruptions? What about my team?

  • How long can my business cope with the financial impact of a disruption?

While your insurer may play a role in your response and appropriate insurances can help your recovery, your business must first respond to the disruption. What are you doing to help build those response skills?


Managing key-person risk

 All organisations, big and small, are built on their staff.  But for many reasons staff might not be available, either for a few days or weeks, or permanently.  They might win lotto; they (or their family) might get unwell or suffer an accident; they might get a better offer; or they might just want a change.  Whatever the reason, resilient organisations accept this as a continuity risk and plan for it.

 At Tigertail like many businesses we are experiencing rapid growth and change and have given this particular risk a bit of thought.  We manage key-person risk by taking a number of steps that we recommend all businesses consider:

  1. Document your policies, procedures, approaches and methods to allow others to quickly come up to speed

  2. Document project plans and workplans

  3. Provide regular progress reports

  4. Store project information, including background documents, research or consultation reports or data and draft deliverables where they can be easily found and shared

  5. Implement a robust peer-review process for proposals and deliverables

  6. Work in small teams and share the work wherever practicable

  7. Multi-skill staff wherever possible

 Managing the risk of staff dis-continuity makes good business sense.  Not only does it mitigate an obvious risk, it builds a collegiate environment and culture where staff support each other, ask for help when they need it, and take shared ownership of business productivity.


Do we invest in resilience when we plan for an evacuation?

BCAW2019 - Investing in Resilience. By David Campbell

It’s 10am on a Monday morning and you have just started a team meeting in the conference room.  The emergency evacuation alarm sounds.  You pause and wait for the usual announcement that the system is being tested, hoping it will be over in a minute so you can get back to the important items on your agenda.

However, the alarm does not stop, and an announcement calls for immediate evacuation.  You are told to make your way to the nearest exit and follow the instructions of your floor warden.

You and your team dutifully follow the instructions, make your way out of the building and to the designated assembly area….or so you think.

This is what we all experience during a well-rehearsed drill.  But reality can be somewhat different.

Many evacuation plans work quite well at getting people safely out of a building—based on the assumption that everyone can clearly follow the instructions and there are no impediments to a clear exit.

But what if that is not the case? 

  • What if someone in your team has an injury or disability that prevents a smooth unaided traverse of the 15 flights of exit stairs they need to navigate? 

  • What happens when your designated assembly area is no longer accessible?

  • What happens if you only partially evacuate before it is no longer safe to continue evacuating?

  • What happens when the threat is outside, and you need to shelter in place for an unknown amount of time?

  • What happens after the evacuation is complete, but the facility can’t be re-occupied?  Where do you staff go and what happens to your business operations?

Then there are all the devices, bags and other stuff you left on your desk when you evacuated? (So much for the “leave your phone on your desk during meetings” policy!)

An organisation that invests in resilience considers these questions as part of its emergency and business continuity planning process.  It has staff that are trained and equipped to adapt to changing environments during an emergency and can make decisions that minimise business disruption. 

If you have doubts about the effectiveness of your emergency planning process and how it links with your continuity planning, consider dropping us a line at

fire drill.jpg

Creeping crises–does resilience fit?

BCAW2019 - Investing in Resilience - by Rick Stone

I was flying over Warragamba Dam a few weeks ago and was struck by just how low 55% capacity really is.  Sydney Water says that levels across 11 dams in Greater Sydney are dropping faster than they have in decades.  Every week the city is using 0.4% of the storage (11 billion litres or enough to fill 4,400 Olympic pools).  The desalination plant has been turned on to supplement the city’s supply.  Rain over the Sydney basin in March means the city is green; but the catchment largely missed out.  So Sydney, along with most of the rest of the state, is suffering one of nature’s most insidious creeping crises—drought.

How is the concept of resilience relevant to a slow-burn or chronic hazard, like drought?  Organisations like to talk about being resilient, but what does this really mean?  Many businesses think a resilient organisation is one that successfully navigates disruption or chaos.  The focus is usually on acute impacts, such as flood, fire, fraud or flu.  Organisations attempt to prevent the problem, cope with it if it occurs, and adapt to a new normal (if they survive).  But it’s hard to measure the success of these programs: did the organisation survive because it had really good preventative strategies, or were they just quick on their feet with a response, or have just been lucky?

Another concept of resilience is “adaptability”.  Resilient organisations can be adaptable to shocks – the traditional acute impact; and they can also be adaptable to slower, less obvious stresses.  Farming is a good example—a resilient farmer needs to be able to adapt to the impact of a bushfire (acute) and a drought (chronic).  The challenge is to recognise the slowly evolving stress and respond early enough to minimise its impact.  These are difficult decisions—does the community invest in building an expensive water pipeline when “it might rain tomorrow”?  The Resilient Cities initiative, pioneered by the Rockerfeller Foundation, recognises the importance of adapting to both stresses and shocks.  Cities including Sydney and Melbourne have adopted resilience strategies that embrace this concept.  Businesses and other organisations can benefit from a similar approach.

Our communities, and the natural and economic environments on which they depend, face significant stresses.  As resilience practitioners, we need to ask ourselves; are we paying attention to the slowly evolving risks and politically complex challenges, such as climate change?  Or are we staying in the comfort zone of planning and practising for acute impacts?

Dam 2019.png

BCAW2019 - Investing in resilience through exercises (CMTEDD case study)

By Matthew Harper

Business Continuity Awareness Week this year marks the mid point of the ACT Chief Ministers, Treasury and Economic Development Directorate’s (CMTEDD) 2018-2020 business continuity exercise program.  The CMTEDD program is an ambitious one, 14 exercises over two financial years including eight business area desktop exercises, four IT disaster recovery exercises and two functional exercises.

 The exercise program is as diverse as CMTEDD itself.  As the smallest physical jurisdiction in Australia, the ACT delivers all the services usually delivered by two tiers of government in most of Australia.  The traditional roads, rates and rubbish are joined by schools, hospitals, emergency services, transport, public housing and revenue.  As a small jurisdiction, the term “lean” applies to the directorates (in other places called ministries or departments), and in line with the lean philosophy, CMTEDD covers a huge range of activities including service to the Chief Minister, territory revenues, shared human resources and IT, the shopfronts and contact centres, registration and a range of policy and legislative areas.

 CMTEDD has a strong governance and assurance approach, linked closely with a supportive and assisting business continuity program.  The result is a consistency of business continuity plans and expectations across the directorate, while the governance ensures that the expectation is met.  With this approach, CMTEDD views exercises in a multi faceted way:

  • An opportunity for education

  • An opportunity for improvement

  • Providing assurance

  • Ensuring good governance.

 The assurance and governance approach means that all exercises have a solid aim and very measurable objectives.  This allows all objectives to be assessed against a three level assessment tool, the objectives are simply; achieved, partially achieved, not achieved.  The further analysis of each objective provides an analysis as to why the objectives have been rated in that manner.  In this, a “not achieved” can be identified as an exercise issue through to a failure of a key element of the plan, training or implementation.

 This afternoon as part of the BCAW-BCI ACT forum,  Angela Friend of CMTEDD will be presenting on the program with a special look at the most recent functional exercise, “Exercise Nimble Access” and will be offering insights into what the program has discovered.  There are still a few seats available, so if you are in Canberra today (Wednesday 15 May), join us at Yellow Edge, Level 2, 9 Sydney Avenue, Barton at 3pm.  No need to register, just smile at the door!


Canberra free image.jpg

The computer's driving my car!

BCAW 2019 - Investing in Resilience. By Samantha Ford

Recently I attended the Disruptors Theatre during the Australian Healthcare Week Expo and sat in on a Case Study: Self-Driving Cars 101 – Health Haven or Death Dealer? presented by Prof. Michael Milford, Chief Investigator, Australian Centre for Robotic Vision at QUT.  The case study provided fascinating insight into self-drive technology that is emerging or already available in the marketplace.

Prof Milford described autonomous vehicles (AV) as having the potential to be one of the most disruptive technologies especially in the areas of public health.  His presentation explored the benefits, such as drastically reduced road death tolls, and potential negative effects such as increasing heart disease, impacts on business for insurance, liability, operability and the workforce.  One thing is certain; this technology will disrupt transport as much as the invention of the internal combustion engine.

Current standards and practice promote a risk-based approach to continuity planning by considering risks that have been identified for the business.  These business risks often include emerging technologies or other activities that provide an opportunity and a threat to the business.   

In our work with clients, we regularly see a narrow focus on traditional sources of disruption (e.g. utilities failure, flooding, loss of people, technology failure, etc).  To ensure our clients are prepared we advise them to consider identified risks and sources of vulnerability that are both generic to all industry and those that may be unique to their business. 

So, ask yourself the following during BCAW 2019:

·        What are the disruptive technologies or events that your industry is facing? 

·        Do you have a plan to manage it?

·        Is it documented?

·        Have you tested your assumptions and your plan?

If you need help answering these questions, contact the team at Tigertail for some assistance.


Welcome to Business Continuity Awareness Week 2019 – Investing in Resilience

By Matthew Harper

As a proud corporate partner of the Business Continuity Institute (BCI), Tigertail Australia is really excited that this year’s theme for Business Continuity Awareness Week is “Investing in Resilience”.

 We see resilience as the ability to bounce-back from disruption and to thrive in an uncertain world.  A resilient organisation is aware of the world around it, scans for threats and opportunities, and responds quickly when things change.  The fundamental building-block of resilience is people – people who are properly prepared and willing to do their bit.  Investing in resilience is investing in people; investing in policies, plans and procedures that help them do their job; and investing in practise to ensure they are match-fit and prepared for when things go wrong.

 One of the great things about our work is seeing organisations invest in resilience everyday; whether it’s a review, an exercise, a training program, or developing an emergency or business continuity plan.  To mark Business Continuity Awareness Week, we will look at different aspects of investing in resilience, starting with a glimpse at an innovative approach to exercising business continuity plans.

 Advances in technology are making computer-based simulations more accessible and cost-effective.  Today, you can use software to explore how your organisation might respond to a disruption.  You can build a model of your organisation’s people, assets and equipment, geo-located on a map, and test what happens if, for example, you lose access to a key supply route or location.  You can even test classical continuity strategies, such as establishing an alternate site, and confirm how long it might take to move staff and equipment.

 We recently used a computer-based simulation for a BC exercise in the ACT to model the “spare spaces” available to the business continuity team across Canberra.  We included all the important items, like computers and phones, then we identified the time and space constraints for moving people across the city.  This allowed the organisation to look at BC from the micro level (who sits at what desk) through to the strategic (what service objectives and capabilities could be met at what times).  The simulation allowed the continuity team to explore options and workshop alternative approaches in real time.  It identified resource choke-points and gaps.  And it helped the team build confidence in responding to disruption.

 How is computer-based simulation an investment in resilience?  It’s a cost-effective way to build an exercise where:

·        an entire continuity team can practise responding;

·        teams can model alternative approaches;

·        time, space and resource constraints are real; and

·        reviews are supported by objective data

Please contact us if you want to learn more about using computer-based simulation to build resilience.


Donuts + Exercises + Virtual Reality = Resilience

Matthew Harper doubts that he will win the Nobel Prize for mathematics for that discovery but for the 2019 Business Continuity Awareness Week, I am sure we have a winning formula for our BCI ACT forum meeting this week.

 This year's theme is "Investing in Resilience" so we have looked at three very different ways and different speakers to talk about their investment.

  1. Angela Friend of the ACT Chief Ministers Directorate will talk about their ambitious two year, eighteen exercise program and the recent evacuation/continuity functional exercise

  2. Our special guest will be Danijela Vrkic of Krofne Donuts.  Krofne is a social enterprise that provides meaningful employment for young adults in Canberra in the production, sales and distribution of what are possibly the best donuts on earth.

  3. We will also have the Canberra launch of the FLAIM Systems extinguisher (, a revolutionary new way to train anyone to use a fire extinguisher in complete safety and with real scenarios.

 Between Yellow Edge and Tigertail Australia we will provide a magnificent afternoon tea, featuring the great Krofne Donuts.

 Attendance is free to all following registration.  See you there!