Hurricane Gustav: Why Planning Matters
Personally, I love the history, culture and people of New Orleans. A number of dear friends are lifetime residents of the city. As a result, I am immensely thankful for the outcome of Gustav.
Over the last week, I have been extremely impressed by the evacuation and orderly return of residents. While the impact of Gustav was much lighter than expected, the plans put into place to protect the citizens of New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina seemed to have been executed very effectively.
The tragedy of Katrina exposed enormous failures at all levels both prior to and after the storm. It also exposed how planning, even for high probability contingencies, is often neglected. In fact, I think most would agree that this neglect of planning seems to afflict many corporations and non profit organizations as well as government. And I am not referring merely to disaster or emergency planning.
Fundraising, IT and strategic growth planning all can have dramatic positive or negative effects on an organization. While most organizations plan very well around their core mission for the programs and services they deliver, these ancillary and/or support functions are often neglected. The simple result is that the infrastructure and foundation necessary to react, for example, to an unexpected programmatic need simply does not exist. The organization has the expertise and capacity to make a profound difference, but not the infrastructure.
Asking the hard questions and ensuring strategic planning is done in every area of the organization is crucial. The process need not be burdensome or expensive. But it does need to be done. Take a few days and, beyond programs and services, work with your key internal stakeholders to do an audit of the key support functions in your organization. Lay out contingencies and plan for them now.
My goal for any organization is that their planning makes their emergencies and contingencies a Gustav experience, not a Katrina. That is part of why I love what we do. My desire is that Orange Leap, both through software and services, can play a role in helping organizations be prepared for success.