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Excellence in Operational Resilience: DRI Board’s Mike Janko Takes Us Through His New Book

April 15, 2024 Leave a comment DRI Admin

Michael W. Janko is many things – MBCP, member of the DRI Board of Directors, longtime director of global business continuity for The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company, and now a published author. We spoke with him about his career through the lens of his new book, Excellence in Operational Resilience: How to Lead, Follow, and Guide the Way, available on Amazon and published by Routledge.

What was the impetus for writing a book?

A few friends were getting published and one of them approached me, and said, “Mike, you’ve had an interesting career and have a unique story to tell – you should write a book!”

As I thought about what I wanted to write, my goal was to appeal to a wide-ranging audience, which led me to Routledge. As a publisher, Routledge has an immense audience and was quite supportive of my concept. They asked me some questions that made me realize this would be an interesting journey: What is your message, why is it unique, who is your audience, what authors do you compare yourself to, why will your book be better than theirs, et cetera?


At this stage in your career, what kind of perspective do you think you bring for the reader?

Having successfully led or partnered with teams managing over 3,200 incidents, crises, and BC events with Stouffer Hotels, Nestle, and Goodyear, I think I have a unique perspective on how to plan for, respond to, and recover from them to minimize impact and business interruption costs. And implementing lessons learned across our global footprint allows me to explain them to our associates in multiple countries, cultures, and languages.

I do want to leave a legacy that carries on for many years. The best feeling is getting a compliment from the teams that they really appreciated my efforts, and that we worked as a team to help protect employees and provide value for the company.

Already, it seems like my message has been well-received – after two days of being published, I was the #1 Amazon New Release in all three of the business categories they listed my book in!


You start the book by mentioning your athletic background and how that mindset can apply to resilience – can you give us a broad idea of how that works?

I’ve been a gym rat my whole life. And I believe resilient individuals, like athletes, carry a mindset that they cannot lose, they exceed expectations, challenge themselves, are tenacious, tough, have mental strength, and manage a great deal of stress.

So I’ve looked at building a business continuity process the same way I built up to my first-degree black belt, then going to the second, all the way through the fifth and being inducted into the World Martial Arts Hall of Fame. Every year I look for a unique physical challenge to keep me sharp and resilient. And it’s the same thing for resilience — it is all about continual improvement.


The throughline for the book is “Lead, follow, and guide the way” – how did you choose that theme, and are there times when it’s harder to figure out which of those tacks to take?

The quote, “lead, follow, or get out of the way” is credited to Thomas Paine and General Patton. I adapted it (and trademarked it!) to “Lead, follow, and guide the way” to describe how you need to take the leadership role, get the right team members engaged, get their feedback, make it our process, not my process, and then guide them to success.

There may be times when you are brought into a situation that someone else is leading, in which case you follow, provide advice, and allow them to guide the way. It’s all about teamwork leading to combined success.


Are there any sections or chapters you’re particularly proud of, maybe for highlighting a resilience concept or strategy?

Every chapter has a unique strategy I share, but one that stands out is Chapter 7 where I describe the Maturity Model.

When I started Goodyear’s BC process, I saw the DRI Professional Practices as a very sound model to train our teams on its business value. Since then, we have gone through annual team engagements where we rate ourselves on each of the Professional Practices by location and team, identify gaps and tie this to our annual resilient deployment process.

While others may struggle to implement operational resilience concepts, having a Maturity Model has helped us to maintain a short- and long-term planning process, look for gaps when new standards or guidance is published, and gain the value of a well-developed and continually improving process across our global footprint.


You cover a lot of ground in your chapter on turning risks into opportunities – and certainly over the past few years, everyone’s gotten to experience a variety of them, often all at once. Are there any risks you think too many resilience professionals underprepare for?

There has been a lot of interest recently in the term “polycrisis” – having multiple concurrent risks affect you. No one really feels prepared for it, yet we must respond to it.

We all have evergreen risks – cyber, supply chain, natural incidents – that we’ll always have to be ready for. But then there are the novel risks that are unplanned and can have big impacts. Infectious disease and geopolitical risks were novel at one time. We are not sure what may be next — could it be radiological, or AI related? Another possibility is a shortage of talent, not having enough people in the right positions and ready to support your process.


A big takeaway in some of these chapters is getting resilience buy-in and support, particularly at the executive level. For those who struggle to identify those “champions” in the organization, what strategies would you recommend?

Communicate what you are trying to accomplish with various stakeholders. You will quickly find others who have familiar challenges yet can provide valuable input. Knowing when the timing is right to approach top level leadership is key. Who has a reputation for getting things done at the senior level? It differs in every company and is tied to your culture.

Being resilient means figuring it out and knowing when to approach the right leader. We have been extremely fortunate at Goodyear to have a very solid governance process with leadership support and cross-functional buy-in at all levels. It doesn’t start that way everywhere, but it is the goal we all try to achieve.


What do you hope readers will get out of the book – either those new to the career, or those who have been in the profession for a long time?

Many people struggle with how to build, maintain, or improve upon operational resilience. It really helps to have team members who are focused on situational awareness, agility, collaboration, are energized, and deliver results.

I am really looking forward to the feedback on my book. How do others compare, where do we have gaps, how can we continually improve? That is one reason that I wrote this!

I do hope it conveys that if you can be a resilient individual, you can apply the same concepts to your organization, even though the road to resilience isn’t always an easy one. After all, the only thing harder than being resilient is explaining why you aren’t!


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