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Building Resilience: L&D's Evolving Role in Business Continuity Planning

Business Continuity Planning, as the name suggests, focuses on what it takes for our businesses to continue to operate, usually after a disaster or other disruption. L&D can play an increasingly pivotal role in preparing and enabling our organizations to change, adapt, and persevere through crisis.

As much as we need backup sites, rollover capability, trusted data sources, redundant power, and resilient communications, we need people to put all those assets to good use in keeping the business functioning. Our people and leaders at every level must prioritize appropriately and problem-solve creatively, while concurrently dealing with both the emergency and its aftermath. We need fast reaction times, cool-headed thinking, and the ability to execute the plan. We want them to help customers, suppliers, and other stakeholders who may be less prepared deal with both the material and emotional impacts of that disruption. We depend on our people to get through the crisis; we also depend on them to help others that we need to survive with us.

In our experience, the human aspect of business continuity includes “hardening” our people’s skills for:

  • Listening—with curiosity and empathy
  • Joint problem-solving—with an emphasis on collaborating on solutions, both internally and externally
  • Strategic thinking—the ability to separate the signal from the noise, to look at context, to zoom out from immediate challenges to the big picture.

BCP in a longer-lasting disruption is not so much about quick response time, but about sustaining both our material capabilities and our human capabilities. This is not a sprint to safety; our people need to maintain their energy and morale for a “marathon” of uncertain mileage. What do we need from leaders amidst a crisis without a clear finish line?

  • We need leaders who “can go the distance” without necessarily knowing what the distance is.
  • We need leaders who help the organization navigate the changes that the disruption will require, without the luxury of a fully mapped-out change management plan.
  • We need leaders who can map the path back to the next normal.

The good news—some of the key skills underlying these strategic requirements for greater resilience are also applicable outside a prolonged crisis.

Read the full article, including the authors’ “Starter Checklist for L&D’s BCP Conversations,” in the November/December issue of Training Industry Magazine.

Building Resilience

Danny Ertel, a founding partner at Vantage Partners, recently published a five-article series on soft skills for adaptive leadership on Medium. Email Danny at dertel@vantagepartners.com.

For more of our experience on this topic, visit our Leadership Development page.