If you have been following the news you would know that Japan has been slammed by a triple whammy of mega disasters- it’s strongest ever earthquake, a fearsome tsunami and an industrial accident at the No. 1 Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant that exceeds the Three Mile Island disaster in it’s severity.
But all disasters have a silver lining in that they have the potential to impart life changing lessons.
The catastrophe at Fukushima won’t be instructive only for architects, disaster management experts and nuclear engineers. As business owners or entrepreneurs if we look deep enough we can also take away important lessons from this tragedy.
Support systems make all the difference
The Fukushima crisis didn’t occur because of the failure of complex technology in the core of the reactor. It was triggered because 50 foot high waves breached the sea wall of the power plant complex and knocked out the generators that powered the cooling systems of the reactor core.
It’s the same with your business. When disaster strikes (as per Murphy’s Law) the resilience of your business will depend on how strong your weakest link is. And more often than not, a business goes down because supporting systems snap under the load.
For example, you might have alternate web hosts lined up during an important launch but your only customer service person gets called away due to an unforeseen family emergency. You don’t need a crystal ball to predict what happens to the whole launch, do you?
Have your Fukushima Fifty ready
If you haven’t heard about the heroic Fukushima Fifty (they are actually around two hundred frontline technicians) you are missing out on a very poignant element of the entire Japan story. Working in life threatening radiation levels this group is tasked with repairing the power and cooling systems of the reactor core. It’s only because of these bravehearts that the entire situation hasn’t deteriorated even more.
When your business is in trouble (again, Murphy’s Law) can you count on systems, processes and people to put out the fires and get everything back on track? Do you have a roadmap ready for getting out of the woods? Have you backed up your valuable data and are you familiar with the restoration process? Do you have a strong network of partners and colleagues capable of and willing to take the load off your shoulders?
Keep communication channels open
TEPCO-the operator of the Fukushima plant has been criticized for being tight lipped regarding information on the overall situation. Since the beginning of the crisis officials have been accused of releasing conflicting and delayed reports about the degree of radiation, limits of buffer zones and damages to facilities. These goof ups have contributed a lot to the air of panic and uncertainty surrounding the Fukushima disaster.
If you find yourself battling a crisis it’s sometimes tempting to forget everything else and concentrate on fixing the issue as fast as possible. But when your problems are affecting your users and customers it’s absolutely vital that you keep them in the loop. This is even more important if you are operating a service that’s supposed to be on 24/7/365.
How sure are you of bouncing back as quickly as possible when your business looks to be on the verge of a meltdown? Please share your disaster recovery and business continuity plans in the comments.
Flickr photo courtesy Oldmaison