Introduce Conflict into your Disaster Drill

by Scott Owens, PMP, CBCP on February 12th, 2013

Patrick Lencioni is one of my favorite authors and management advisors, primarily for his no-nonsense style of organizational leadership.  He wrote a book in 2004 that became an instant classic in business circles, called Death by Meeting.  In this leadership fable, Lencioni addresses the question of why so many people would rather stick their finger in a rotating fan than go to some team meetings.  One of the critical elements to keep participants on their toes is conflict.  Meetings become more interesting if you expect tough discussion on issues that really matter. 
So what does conflict have to do with the execution of disaster drills?  Everything!  The goals of a disaster drill are to test your business continuity and disaster recovery plans, but also to test your team’s ability to handle difficult situations and manage through a crisis.  Conflict enhances stress and creates more realistic simulations.  It encourages people to take sides.  It makes the team sweat.  And it will result in an exercise that is remembered long after its completion.
My personal philosophy on designing and facilitating drills for organizations is to introduce a significant amount of conflict into the scenario to force the team to work through key decisions. 
Below are some ways that you can create conflict in your business continuity and disaster drills:
  • Simulate the sudden absence of a key leader to see how other members of the team manage the scenario
  • Introduce personal conflict such as a family crisis simultaneously with a team member’s work responsibility, forcing them to choose and delegate
  • Include regulatory compliance deadlines with surprise calls from real government agencies
  • Incorporate creepy details, such as simulating a stalker scenario for a particular team member
If you inject intentional conflict into your next disaster drill, your team will enjoy it and will learn more in the process. 

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Posted in not categorized    Tagged with Disaster Drill, Exercise, Best Practices


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