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For the past number of days, I don’t remember how many actually, Hurricane Earl has been bearing down on the U.S. East Coast. Inevitably, there would be significant media attention paid to it. We were not let down. As I was wandering through my RSS feed, I found two articles on it and in a recent tweet I wrote:

“Bad weather, big problems. Are you ready?”

Also included the links to the articles, eh? It wasn’t really relevant for this blog posting, so I left them out… check my Twitter feed, if you want them. Anyway, each articles talked about some aspect of how the hurricane could impact IT organizations. Don’t get me wrong here, I don’t have any issues with the articles per se — they are well written and it’s topical content.

What’s my issue? Simple. It’s too late.

If you have to ask the question “are you ready?”, you’re not ready. This is not rocket science.

Face it, hurricanes are a seasonal phenomenon. I don’t expect that to change any time soon. What does that mean? It means that IT organizations that could be impacted knew that there was a potential impact at the end of the last hurricane season. Unless some work was done to validate that their preparations and response plans were adequate during the “quiet time” from the end of the last season to the start of this one, you’ve missed the window.

I am not advocating that you roll over and surrender. Not even close. In fact, the content of the articles are as good a place as any to get started thinking about impacts and how to prepare. Take some action now and get started.

My point is that the actions you will take now are based on a fully reactive posture. The best you can do is likely not good enough to have you really be adequately prepared for what can come when you get hit by the hurricane. Will it be better than having done nothing? Yes, but in a lot of cases, only marginally.

The thing that we want to do is to shift our basis of action to one that is proactive. It gives us time to consider our strategies, tactics and plans in a timing that’s of our choosing, not driven by nature and weather cycles. In fact, there are lots of benefits to taking proactive measures. If the only thing you gain by doing so is to have less stress in your life when the “big one hits”, you’re much better off.

This is a good example of how life enforces organizational and personnel development — nothing is static, unchanging. Just when you get into your rhythm, have a routine or think your have everything nailed down tight, life throws you a curve ball. Is this new? No. Not even close. Yet, often enough, people find themselves surprised and (even) annoyed by the fact that there’s now something “new” to deal with. Such reactions only have us take our eyes off of  what’s really important. Development is our bridge to the proactive. Yes, we may experience being annoyed, but we’re not going to let that run the show.

Operational discipline will have us work on testing and validating our plans and response efforts on a continual basis. There will be always things to change, update and examine. Establishing a cadence that is appropriate for the activity and the risk represented is an important element of being able to maintain things over time.

In the face of a looming disaster, absent any work that’s been done in advance, your best response is likely to be wholly insufficient to the numerous threats that you face. While you may not have made it in time for Hurricane Earl (or whatever your local flavor of disaster may be), but you can use this to your advantage. There are simple, effective actions you can take to be ready and start working proactively. Don’t wait until tomorrow, start the process of reviewing your business continuity and disaster recovery plans now!

If you aren’t sure where to start or could use some help getting things going, please ask.

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