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BIRD'S EYE VIEW 2 – Resilience Lessons from the Greek Financial Crisis

July 30, 2015 Leave a comment dridrive

By Lyndon Bird, Chair of the DRI Future Strategic Vision Committee

Greece FlagToday I would like to start with an international issue that has dominated the news media in Europe for many weeks (some might say years) and has had an impact globally that is superficially beyond its obvious significance. I mean the financial crisis in Greece, the concern this might spread to the wider Euro bloc and the potential impact this might have on the entire international financial community. I appreciate that economists might tell us that this is a minor matter compared with a potential melt-down of the Chinese equity markets; I understand that political strategists will point to the US nuclear agreement with Iran as of much wider importance; I know that the politics of the Middle East, the emergence of the so called Islamic State and the refugee crisis that is resulting from a turbulent world are what should keep us awake at night.

However this blog is about achieving resilience through better business continuity, not just discussing world affairs, so the Greek situation does have lessons for us all. It is true that as Business Continuity professionals we have no direct impact on the politics or the financial management of the crisis. However that does not mean it has nothing to do with our day-to-day jobs and responsibilities. I would like to give you a quote from Vittorio Colao, CEO of Vodafone (one of the world’s largest telecom companies) at the time of a previous Eurozone crisis. Colao and his fellow top management team were being quizzed by financial analysts over a range of commercial matters when an unexpected question was raised. The analyst asked “I’m just wondering how easy it is to switch some of your southern European billing systems back to escudos or drachma or lira. How seriously are you thinking about such an eventuality?”

To me his answer was impressive: “Let me take that question – not because I’m an IT expert but because I’m responsible for the company. I therefore have a duty to ensure business continuity. We have got business continuity plans developed and rehearsed for a variety of outcomes, one of which is that some countries might have to change into different currencies in chaotic circumstances. So I know we can handle it.”

Why I am impressed: Firstly, the CEO knew (without any briefing) that this was a BCM issue. He also knew that as CEO it was his responsibility – not something to delegate to IT, Operations or Compliance. He recognized that a business disruption did not necessary mean a fire, flood or terrorist attack – or even a data breach or other cyber incident. It could emerge from a source beyond which even a powerful CEO had no influence. In other words, BCM was a strategic issue, even if the solutions were likely to be operational.

Business Continuity practitioners need to engage with this type of discussion with this level of management if we are to achieve the aspiration set out for us to lead the movement toward building resilience. So my questions today relate to this theme and are about how well our BCM solutions are matched to the strategic concerns of the business.

Click here to take Lyndon’s two-question survey:

1. How important do you think these issues are to your top management?

2. How involved are BC practitioners in these activities in your organization?

Keep the discussion going! Click here to follow Lyndon’s discussion thread on LinkedIn, and share your perspective on matching business continuity to strategic concerns. Lyndon will also use the LinkedIn discussion space to update you on the results of the first two discussion poll questions and invite additional feedback.


About Lyndon Bird
Lyndon Bird has worked exclusively in business continuity since 1986 as a consultant, presenter, educator, author, and business manager. He has spoken at and chaired conferences throughout the world and has contributed features, articles and interviews to most leading business and specialist publications. He has been interviewed by a wide range of broadcasters, including the BBC, Sky News, Bloomberg TV and CNBC on continuity and resilience topics. Bird helped found the Business Continuity Institute in 1994 to promote and develop the emerging BC discipline as a professional field of activity and was a member of the original BS25999 Technical Committee. He was voted BCM Consultant of the Year in 2002 and given the BCM Lifetime Award in 2004 by Continuity, Insurance & Risk Magazine.  He is currently Editor of the Journal of Business Continuity and Emergency Planning published in the UK and the US, an advisory board member for the US publication Disaster Resource Guide, and his new book “Operational Resilience in the Financial Sector” has recently been published by Incisive Media.