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Be prepared

Back in April, I wrote about cuboree – a camp for Victorian cubs and leaders. I wrote that I expected to be able to use cuboree as examples in business behaviour and strength.

As I mentioned, cuboree was affected by strong winds that have since been called a cyclone. The entire campsite of about 4,500 people (mostly 8 – 10 year olds) was locked down for an entire afternoon.

It was certainly an experience to remember and thankfully there were no major injuries, but it wasn’t something anyone had expected or hoped for!

There were various things put in place over the storm period that kept us all safe. For instance, leaders were told a storm was coming the previous night so we could prepare our campsites and warn the cubs in the morning that there would be strong winds. Programs were adjusted to suit the conditions and regular updates were provided to pack leaders. The fact that there were high wind rated marquees available, as well as permanent buildings,  shows how the organisers had planned for problems. The cuboree website was already in place so it was simple for the camp to keep parents and others ‘at home’ informed about the cubs, rather than having 3,000 parents ringing or visiting the campsite.

In business, being prepared for possible problems is called contingency planning and is very important. Planning doesn’t mean you think the problem will arise, but makes it easier to deal with the problem if it did arise. It’s like having some paracetamol in the cupboard – you may never get a headache but if you do, you want the medicine quickly.

Contingency planing depends on the size and potential impact of the problem. For instance, running out of ink for the printer is probably covered by having a spare cartridge in the cupboard and ordering a new spare once it is used. However, the plan for how to cope if your business premises are burnt in a fire will be a lot more complex and detailed.

Some contingency planning is simple and practical – having spare ink for printers, spare light bulbs and a first aid kit – while others are much better if written out and added to the procedures.

How much contingency have you planned for in your business? Have you done this formally or just built up a supply of spare materials for instance?

I would love to hear some examples of how contingency planning has saved your business in some way, too.

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