Or is it an example of how NOT to plan for any contingency?
Here’s a good rule of thumb: The best time to create a contingency plan is not when danger is already at the door and the time has come to operationalize that plan. That applies to any business in any environment. But never more so than for the many Multi-National Corporations (MNCs) that conduct business in countries such as Turkey, for example. There, the threats are fluid and increasingly frequent, and MNCs need to plan carefully for virtually any contingency.
Terrorism and violent extremism are on the rise. They are reaching into major business hubs in Turkish cities, including Ankara and Istanbul. And more and more, extremists are looking at commercial sites as attractive targets. Worse still, it is growing increasingly difficult to pinpoint the dangers, because there is no single terrorist
player in Turkey. The Islamic State (IS), the Kurdistan Freedom Falcons (TAK), and the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) have all staged sophisticated, large-scale attacks since the year began. And the situation is made even more perilous because the extremists are hostile to one another, as well as to Western interests. Even if they are not direct targets of one extremist group or another, MNCs might find themselves caught in the crossfire, in effect.
And it is likely to get worse before it gets better. An analysis by MAX published in April documented a pattern of increased terrorist activity in Turkey’s urban tourist and commercial sites, including Istanbul, the gateway and hub for many MNCs. The terrorist’s aim? Disrupting investment in the Turkish economy by creating uncertainty.
The risks don’t begin and end with violent extremism. It’s a stark reality. In today’s world, business continuity might depend – at any moment – on a comprehensive contingency plan. And targeted extremist violence is not the only example of potentially disruptive events. Obviously, war in neighboring Syria and Iraq has direct and dramatic repercussions in southeastern Turkey. But businesses anywhere also have to position themselves to successfully manage operations when faced with a natural disaster, an outbreak of disease, a full-scale war, or even operational interruptions caused by political turmoil or corruption.
A solid contingency plan allows them to do that, as MAX Chief Consulting Officer, Mr. Ital Dar, explains:
The contingency plan enables a client to minimize the need to invent decision-making during a stressful time. Instead, it relies on pre-defined protocols that assist in solving the situation efficiently while minimizing damages to the company’s business continuity.
Does the situation call for a business to evacuate temporarily, moving staff to a safe location where it can continue its operations? Or, is the threat so dire that it is necessary to leave the country altogether? And if it is, what is the best way to maintain business functions? Arriving at the answers in advance – and with a cool head – means decision-makers don’t have to improvise solutions at the worst possible time, according to Mr. Ital Dar: “Being fully prepared to evacuate if necessary, and knowing when and how to do it without jeopardizing safety and business continuity unnecessarily, is one good example of what a contingency plan can do”.
And a contingency plan must do plenty more as well It begins with extensive information gathering, and thorough research into potential risks and threats, in order to create customized risk assessments and solutions for each client. That process is a 360-degree exercise. It has to take into account the unique circumstances, operational resources, and objectives of the client, of course. But it also must consider broader cultural, geopolitical, and local dynamics that can affect a sensitive situation, factoring in numerous variables to help the client develop both short- and long-term responses to disruptions. From there, it has to extend into provisions of training for management and employees to ensure that they will be prepared to adhere to and implement the plan in a crisis situation.
And it has to be developed with the understanding that plans can change, because circumstances can change. An effective contingency plan example is one that recognizes that contingency, too. It should provide for continuous situation analysis and create a core team that is able to react quickly to a changing environment without losing sight of essential goals. It needs to identify the full range of security resources that will be needed to put the plan into effect, from custom Intel to logistical support, secure transportation, medical assistance, or other necessary services.
Obviously, the complexities of each tailored contingency plan mean that no one example can spell out all of the considerations. But there is one more consideration that no comprehensive plan can afford to overlook. It has to equip the client to continuously monitor the myriad factors that can hint at trouble.
No plan can help, after all, unless the signs of an impending crisis are recognized in time to set it in motion.
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