‘Fire and Fury’ – What’s Next?

Aug 11, 2017

This week Charlie looks at the North Korean stand-off, with nuclear confrontation seeming more real than ever, but still far from being certain.

We have seen over the last few days, threats and counter threats between Donald Trump and North Korea. This situation is moving very fast so nobody knows how it will end. Will the situation escalate with threats and counter threats leading to war on the Korean Peninsula and possibly beyond, or will things calm and the situation deescalate and another drama elsewhere will fill the news pages?

Now, as business continuity managers should we react to such events? We have to always tread a thin line so we’re not seen as ‘panicer’ with a need to have a plan in place for every world event. On the other hand, I have always said in this blog, that it is our role to horizon scan and to make top management aware of threats to the organisation which they may not have identified. We also need to add into the mix that we live in a unpredictable world. I am sure that every generation have said this, but I do think that in the last few years conventional wisdom has often been wrong. Brexit and the election of President Trump are good examples of this.

So, what should we do? I think we first have to examine our organisations exposure to the Korean area. We should consider the following:

  • Do we have subsidiaries in the area?
  • Are goods and services from Korea important to our supply chain? In looking at this you need to look at second or third tier suppliers.
  • Do you have staff regularly travelling within the area that may need to be evacuated?
  • Do you have staff travelling there on holiday which you may need to provide support to?
  • Will any conflict delay or disrupt goods coming by ship from China and the Far East?

How might a war affect confidence in our products and services, and could it cause a recession or a downturn in purchasing, money supply and lending?

We then need to look at number of scenarios as it is very difficult to predict how this one can go. When I am teaching Incident Management, I suggest to those that are horizon scanning to ask themselves at least the following questions:

  • Most favourable scenario, or the best case?
  • Reasonable worst case scenario?
  • Lower probability, higher impact scenario?

There could be a broader spectrum of possible scenarios which you could look at if you have time, but these are a good start. Once you have established the possible scenarios, you then need to think through what the triggers could be that would lead to one of your chosen scenarios happening. There can often be a number of steps to a scenario maturing and so, in some instances, you can change your actions which could prevent an incident occurring.

We all hope that this crisis will die down as the consequences of war will occur, with tens or possibly hundreds of thousands of lives being lost and the impact would be felt worldwide. Think of how many of us have Samsung products in our house, coming out of South Korea, how will this affect their organisation? I do think that someone within our organisations must think worst case, understand the possible scenarios and think about the risk to the organisation. We have time now to think about this and to prepare our thoughts and understand our exposures. We should be seen as ‘panicers’, but if we don’t think about these sorts of events, will anyone else in your organisation?

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