16 January 2007

24: Lessons in Resilience...

It's going to be a busy day for Jack Bauer this season. Last night's episode of 24 ends like this:

9:58 A.M.
Numair completes work on the suitcase nuke. One of the guards sees the TAC teams and gunfire erupts. Ray ducks to the ground. Amid the shooting, Numair detonates the nuclear device.

From where he is, Jack can see the mushroom cloud in the sky.

The White House team is in shock. Wayne orders Karen to put the entire military at the disposal of the Los Angeles response teams.

9:59 A.M.
As CTU watches the video in horror, Milo alerts them to a warning from the FBI. An Arabic phrase was overheard at one of the detention centers. Nadia translates it: “five visitors.” There are four more nuclear weapons out there.

The WMD scenario is now being played out by focusing on the infamous "Suitcase Nuke" that has been talked about for years. The question remains how the remaining part of Jack's day will go now that he will be searching for four more devices during what is certain to be mass panic. And whether the incident is of the sudden magnitude of this 24 thriller or the sudden onset of a contagious virus, our hospitals and healthcare system will be immediately challenged.

Continuity of Operations and Contingency Planning is starting to get the funding it requires in the healthcare systems across the globe. We can only hope that it comes long before the first wave of Pandemic or the radioactive WMD event.

What would happen if you woke up at 2 a.m. with chest pains but the area hospitals were closed due to a smallpox outbreak? What would happen if you couldn’t get lifesaving blood work because the labs couldn’t process the results or your health insurance provider couldn’t process the authorization? What would happen if you were scheduled for surgery but the computer network containing your patient records was down due to a computer virus?

These are just a few of the scenarios that keep business continuity planners at hospitals and healthcare organizations across the country up at night and focused on the task at hand. Healthcare is the one thing you hope you will never need, but when the time comes, the availability of healthcare in this country is often taken for granted. Business continuity planning (BCP) professionals in the healthcare industry want to keep it that way.

This is a clear example of where the Critical Infrastructure sector we call Healthcare and it's sister the First Responders is still behind in funding and increasing it's resilience to sudden disaster. Public - Private partnerships are working with diligence on an "All Hazards" mindset to help address the lack of preparedness in many of our metro regions.

It's vital to really understand the mission for not just the healthcare sector, but the government, law enforcement and first responders combined:

MISSION: To provide a forum that fosters communication and cooperation between industry and government security, law enforcement and emergency responders at the federal, state, local and tribal level to protect America's citizen's and critical assets.

It's been said that we could never be totally prepared as there will always be some degree of residual risk in any prudent planning or testing exercise. The only real truth is that working towards the worldview of increased Business Resilience creates a different perspective.

Business resilience
Even resolving these shortfalls and misunderstandings really is only part of the picture when seeking to create true resilience – we really must focus more broadly than on the technology and the facilities. Business resilience should be our goal. IBM has articulated its concept of business resilience as:

“The ability of an organisation’s business operations to rapidly adapt and respond to internal or external dynamic changes – opportunities, demands, disruptions or threats – and continue operations with limited impact to the business.”

The paradigm shift from a defensive posture to an offensive posture is the first leap of faith. To see the opportunities and upside not just the cost of protection and overhead. Mitigating Operational Risks, thinking through all possible contingencies and creating new strategies for the future success scenario is what this mindset is all about.

I wonder what's going through Jack Bauer's head right now? Defense. I don't think so.

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