The Internet generation has arrived in the workplace, bringing new ways of thinking, learning, and getting things done. The business continuity profession will need to adapt if it is to partner effectively with these new workers and continue protecting organizations and their stakeholders.
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Business Suits and SpongeBob T-Shirts
A recent experience at the offices of a new client of ours, a tech company in California, got me thinking about the future of BCM as it relates to the style of the up-and-coming generation of leaders and employees.
Another MHA consultant and I were at the conference table in our business attire, waiting to interview the person in charge of the company’s data centers. A man in his late 20s came in wearing a SpongeBob T-shirt and looking like he had just rolled out of bed. It turned out that this was the person we were waiting to talk to.
Needless to say, he was freaking brilliant; he knew the answer to every question we asked.
BCM and the Millennial Generation
It’s a cliché that the experience of growing up with smartphones, video games, social media, and YouTube resulted in millennials being wired a little differently than people who were adults when those innovations came in.
The changes aren’t just limited to clothes. They extend to how people learn, collaborate, and do their jobs.
What interests me is what the ramifications of the arrival of millennials in the workforce are for business continuity.
The Responsibility to Adapt
There are a lot of pieces to this issue. One is that we business continuity professionals—whether we’re independent consultants or in-house staff—have to accept that it’s our job to adapt to the new reality.
As I’ve written before, the successful BCM office treats the business departments as its customers. That means accommodating them, not expecting them to accommodate the BCM office. If a gap opens between the BCM office and the business departments, and the organization falls through it, the failure is on the BCM office. Figuring out how to make BCM work for millennials is a challenge I’ll discuss below.
A second point is, different organizations are in different places when it comes to the changes we’ve been talking about. Many companies retain highly traditional workplace cultures, especially in highly regulated sectors such as banking (and in some other parts of the world such as the Middle East). On the opposite end of the spectrum are U.S. Internet and fintech companies that are at the cutting edge of change.
These days, the BCM professional has to be skilled at studying the culture of the organization and adapting BCM methodologies to fit.
Quick, Intuitive, Unwilling to Be Bored
How exactly do Millennials differ from older managers and staff when it comes to BCM? The best way to answer this question might be to share some of the comments we often get when we’re conducting engagements at organizations with cutting-edge cultures: “Let me do it.” “I’m not dumb, I only need three pages.” “We don’t want to do long recovery exercises.” “We don’t want to read any large documents.” “I don’t want the whole plan, just give me my section.” “Is this available on my phone?”
What are the people like who are making these comments? Quick, intuitive, self-sufficient, unimpressed by seniority and tradition, and unwilling to be bored.
As BCM professionals, the question of whether the changes brought about in the workforce by the new technologies are good, bad, or in-between is not our concern. Our job is limited to making BCM work with this new kind of manager and employee.
Making BCM Methodology Work for Millennials
I don’t have the answer to the problem of how we adjust BCM methodology so that it is meaningful and engaging to millennials.
All I know is, it’s imperative that we protect our organizations and that our current tools for doing this are not working very well with the rising generation.
We BCM professionals are going to have to completely change our philosophy. We’re going to have to make things lighter and easier to use.
Maybe this will involve doing exercises in frequent short bursts (and having fewer large-scale exercises) or using plans as a point of reference rather than as an absolute guide.
It might be that good answers will come from millennials who become BCM professionals.
All I know for sure is that the change needs to happen, and that figuring out how to accomplish it is going to be the one of the main tasks for the BCM profession as a whole to tackle over the next five to 10 years.
For more information on the new approach to BCM, succeeding as a BCM professional, and other hot topics in BCM and IT/disaster recovery, check out these recent posts from BCMMETRICS and MHA Consulting:
- Plan B: As the Recovery Plan Fades, What Will Take Its Place?
- Run It Like a Business: 7 Tips to Help Your BCM Program Succeed
- What It Takes: How to Succeed as a BCM Professional
- The Benefits of Stressing Out: Why You Should Stress Test Your Recovery Plans