The past four days participating in Alaska Shield of the National Level Exercise Capstone 2014 is a stark reminder of how far we have come and yet how far we still have to go. Operational Risk Management (ORM) is evolving into a discipline with an over arching set of objectives. The organizations and entities that do not understand the purpose and the reason behind, having SMART objectives, might need a refresher:
Without "SMART" objectives, any project will continue to strive for a purpose and a relevant set of outcomes. Constituents, stakeholders and various affected employees that intersect with an internal risk mitigation exercise, will continuously require coaching on how to base the project on "SMART" objectives.
Next, the stakeholders will require a path forward that includes a building block approach to gaining consensus, agreement and a set of written events that will either be simulated or real. These events comprise a master scenario, that the organization will utilize to test a hypothesis or set of operational capabilities. The high reaching outcome, is to determine where there are gaps, vulnerabilities and opportunities to improve.
The building blocks approach may include:
- Table Top Exercises
These provide the stakeholders with the opportunity to converge on their respective areas of expertise and integrate them with the overall scenario being developed. However, these are still based upon first identifying the "SMART Objectives" and the application to your particular business, organization, city, state or country.
Taking the foundation of Operational Risk Management and applying a process for evaluation, requires a set of standards so all of the respective constituents, will be talking and practicing from the same exercise play book. In the United States this standard is HSEEP or "Homeland Security Exercise and Evaluation Program":
The Homeland Security Exercise and Evaluation Program (HSEEP) is a capabilities and performance-based exercise program that provides a standardized methodology and terminology for exercise design, development, conduct, evaluation, and improvement planning.
The Homeland Security Exercise and Evaluation Program (HSEEP) constitutes a national standard for all exercises. Through exercises, the National Exercise Program supports organizations to achieve objective assessments of their capabilities so that strengths and areas for improvement are identified, corrected, and shared as appropriate prior to a real incident.
Operational Risk Management professionals are working with an organization or population that is constantly striving to be more resilient. Without testing, without exercising and without the process framework in place to try and achieve measurable objectives, the organization will never gain the vital insight on where and how it can improve rapidly. It will never fully understand where the enemy will try and exploit the weaknesses. The organization will never realize their resilience factor at this point in time.
When was the last time your organization really tested itself, to survive? How long has it been since you re-established the relationships and the trusted connections with your own supply chain? Why has it been that long? There are some elite organizations in the world who understand readiness, that have learned along the way of their evolution why exercising and a trusted supply chain is critical to their own survival before the next incident occurs:
To become a SEAL in the Naval Special Warfare/Naval Special Operations (NSW/NSO) community, you must first go through what is widely considered to be the most physically and mentally demanding military training in existence. Then comes the tough part: the job of essentially taking on any situation or foe that the world has to offer.Direct action warfare. Special reconnaissance. Counterterrorism. Foreign internal defense. When there’s nowhere else to turn, Navy SEALs are in their element. Achieving the impossible by way of conditioned response, sheer willpower and absolute dedication to their training, their missions and their fellow spec ops team members.
This analogy to the Navy SEALs demonstrates that preparedness long before you are asked to test your own resilience, will save lives. Yet there are so many other ways that our planet and the people on it, are being tested every day outside of the context of counterterrorism or national defense missions.
"Mother Nature" and the magnitude by which she continues to unleash her strength and in many cases her unrelenting path to destruction (hurricanes, earthquakes, drought, pandemic) makes any organization vulnerable and any population exposed to substantial operational risks:
The IDRN is the official arm of the Starfish Community for responding to disasters around the world. No single organization has the resources to respond to every disaster event, but because of the partnerships within the Starfish Community, members are able to leverage the strength of the entire network to provide meaningful help to those in need.
Every event is different in location, scope and impact. As different Starfish Community members decide whether or not to respond to any single event, those individuals and/or organizations that choose to respond, can pull together and collaborate with other Starfish Community members through the International Disaster Response Network which is often referred to as the IDRN.
Because disaster response conversations are so specific and time-sensitive, the IDRN has its own dedicated website for sharing information and managing collaboration. It can be found online at: www.idrn.info.
When you think about resilience in the context and relevance of the threats before us, we all have to realize that whether it is the National Level Exercise (NLE), US Navy SEALs or the Starfish Community, only SMART objectives will increase our ability to learn, to save lives and allow for the potential survivability of our organizations or impacted populations.