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DRI Leadership Perspectives: Japanese Resilience and Preparation in Advance of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics

October 18, 2018 Leave a comment DRI Admin

By Chloe Demrovsky, President & CEO, DRI International

From floods in western Japan brought on by unusually torrential rain to earthquakes in both Osaka and Hokkaido to a record-setting heat wave, Japan has been hit by multiple natural disasters in 2018. This is not unusual, but climate change is making it worse. In their position on the Pacific Ring of Fire, the Japanese people are already all too accustomed to facing the destruction that nature can wreak.

The nation has long worked to build a culture of preparedness and response. I was able to participate in this national conversation on resilience last month. It was an honor to be invited to present as the keynote speaker at the Risk Taisaku conference where I opened the conversation with 700+ risk managers and other experts in the field. The event was hosted by Shinken Press, which publishes Japan’s premier risk management magazine. It has been seven years since the Great East Japan Earthquake and business continuity has since become established in many Japanese organizations. While progress has been made, the maturity level varies dramatically by sector and there is much to be done particularly in healthcare. To what extent were lessons learned after the events of 3/11 and how should priorities be set moving forward?

Given the abundance of natural hazards, it is unsurprising that the national conversation being had by experts is largely focused on physical disasters. This is in direct contrast to what we at DRI most often hear about these days, namely cyber resilience and technology failure. The conference organizers encouraged me to help broaden the discussion by focusing on the importance of diversity in building a culture of resilience. There are so many questions to answer when it comes to the diversity of challenges we face. What are the top issues that worry resilience professionals and is Japan preparing for them? Do some sectors have an edge over other sectors in understanding and managing risk? How can resilience professionals best support the technology teams when a crisis occurs? Should international terrorism and supply chain failures be priority resilience issues? And what about pandemics? Tokyo is preparing for the 2020 Olympic games now and it is essential that Japanese companies that may be affected also begin their preparations. What can be drawn from the global perspective to prepare for the games?

Last year, DRI’s top three overall resilience issues were the business consequences of major IT failures, cyber-attacks, and adequate investment in information security. From this year’s survey of DRI Certified Professionals, the same three issues top our rankings again. There is now a stronger correlation between the probability of one of these factors occurring to an individual enterprise and the perceived business impact. Organizations now accept that technology interruptions are possible — even probable — and, they are a major threat to overall business viability in addition to broader concerns such as risk of another financial melt-down, reputational damage via social media, and flooding/extreme weather that Japan knows all too well. Rapidly gaining attention is the risk of compliance failure with respect to data protection and privacy legislation.

With so many risks at play, diverse teams can help organizations to broaden their perspective and see unforeseen challenges on the horizon. That is why I also emphasized the need to analyze and increase the presence of women in the profession as we are doing with our Women in Business Continuity Management Initiative. This focus is in line with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s “womenomics” plan to bring more Japanese women into the workforce. There is surely room for them in the growing field of business continuity.

Just as essential as a diverse team is a diversity of skill sets. A variety of skills and experience will help all professionals to suitably prepare for tomorrow’s careers in business continuity. In DRI’s glossary, we define resilience as “the adaptive capacity of an organization in a complex and changing environment”. That’s why we spend time advocating to audiences like these who are charged with helping organizations foster this ability. It is our responsibility to identify and build the skills resilience professionals need to thrive in this world of complexity and change.

See more photos of this and other DRI events here.

For information about DRI Japan and a schedule of upcoming classes, click here.