How a 30-Minute Mock Disaster Exercise Can Sharpen Your Recovery Team

In the fast-paced world of Business Continuity Planning (BCP), keeping your recovery team sharp and ready is crucial. Traditionally, multiple half-day exercises throughout the year are ideal to keep your team well-versed in the disaster recovery process. However, reality often poses time constraints that make these extensive sessions difficult to schedule.

To address this challenge and maintain frequent, focused training, we have implemented an impactful solution: 30-minute mock disaster exercises. These exercises are designed to complement our annual half-day sessions, ensuring continuous engagement and readiness. Here’s how we efficiently conduct these short yet effective drills:

Step 1: Set the Scene

(2-3 minutes)
Begin by presenting a concise scenario that outlines the emergency. This brief describes the event and the immediate facts known. The goal here is to set a clear and urgent context without overwhelming the team with details.

Step 2: Crisis Management

(10 minutes)
With the scenario set, the team dives into the crisis management phase. Here, they address the immediate, tactical needs brought about by the disaster. This could include initiating emergency responses, communicating with relevant stakeholders, or securing critical resources. Quick decision-making and prioritization are key in this phase.

Step 3: Crisis Leadership

(10 minutes)
Next, the focus shifts to crisis leadership. In this segment, the team contemplates the longer-term implications of their initial decisions. This includes considering the impact on the business cycle, future operational capacity, and strategic adjustments. This phase challenges the team to think beyond the immediate crisis toward sustainable recovery and resilience.

Step 4: Debrief and Action Items

(5-7 minutes)
Finally, wrap up the exercise with a debrief session. Discuss what was learned and identify any gaps in responses. This is also the time to outline specific follow-up actions and update recovery plans as necessary. Keeping this section concise ensures the team remains engaged and values the lessons learned.

Why These Exercises Work

Conducting regular short exercises forces the team to focus intensely and effectively without the burden of prolonged disruptions to their daily work. By using a timer, we keep discussions on track and ensure that each phase of the exercise receives equal attention. Documenting the outcomes of each session helps in refining our disaster response strategies continually.

These 30-minute mock exercises provide a practical, time-efficient method to ensure your recovery team remains on their toes, ready to tackle any crisis with confidence and expertise.

Good luck, and remember, consistency is key to mastering crisis management and leadership!

Michael Herrera is the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of MHA. In his role, Michael provides global leadership to the entire set of industry practices and horizontal capabilities within MHA. Under his leadership, MHA has become a leading provider of Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery services to organizations on a global level. He is also the founder of BCMMETRICS, a leading cloud based tool designed to assess business continuity compliance and residual risk. Michael is a well-known and sought after speaker on Business Continuity issues at local and national contingency planner chapter meetings and conferences. Prior to founding MHA, he was a Regional VP for Bank of America, where he was responsible for Business Continuity across the southwest region.

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