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Five Business Continuity Lessons From The Chilcot Enquiry

Author: Charlie Maclean Bristol, Training Director, FBCI, FEPS

This week Charlie looks at 5 lessons learned following the release of the report from the Chilcot Enquiry.

A new report is published and the lessons learned are all over the papers, websites and in the news. As you hear the lessons of reports, you very quickly realise that most of them you have heard before, but pertaining to a different incident. I thought in today’s bulletin I would share five lessons from the Chilcot Enquiry. Most of which we have talked about in bulletins before. 

Lesson 1. If you are Tony Blair, how do you draw a line under the incident? How can he persuade the families of the British soldiers killed in the war that he didn’t lie and that he is not a war criminal? As an organisation, if you have been dishonest in the past, how can you change people’s mind that you are now being truthful? It is very difficult to change people’s opinions if they hold very strong views.
 
Lesson 2. One of the requests from many of the families of the soldiers killed in Iraq was that they wanted a face to face meeting with Tony Blair and for him to explain why he took the country to war - to date he has refused their request. Having one to one meetings with victims of the incidents can be a powerful way to diffuse anger and for each party to understand better each other’s point of view.
 
Lesson 3. We have talked a number of times about apologies within the bulletins. If as an organisation or individual you have decided to apologise, then the apology must look and feel genuine. Often apologies are not felt to be genuine and the person giving the apology seems to be saying, ‘I am sorry this has happened to me’ rather than it happened to you. Tony Blair apologised at a press conference on the day of the report being released, I will leave it up to you to make a decision whether you felt it was genuine or not!
 
Lesson 4. The enquiry took seven years to report. If you have a major incident it will continue to impact on the organisation for years to come. The aftermath of Hillsborough is still in the news 25 years after the incident occurred. 
 
Lesson 5. One of the points from the report was that the United States and British Government failed to plan adequately for the aftermath of the war, and that their assumption that the environment after the war would be benign, was flawed. Again we have seen with Brexit that there was a lack of planning as everyone assumed that the remain vote would win. This is another reminder for you to review the assumptions within your plans and check that they are valid! 

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