After Disaster Strikes How Do You Recover

disasterIt has been a tremendously unnerving time during the last two weeks, and most of us will still be in shock forever. In every tragedy there is great triumph to be seen. In business as it is in life, we never really believe we will loose our precious comfort zone and all of its luxuries. Think again and be ever so watchful and vigilant for your country and your neighbor. In the business world you must pick up the pieces and go on, and as bad as this incident was it is entirely possible it could happen again. This article is about helping recover your business. It is a tough road to go down but if you have ever been in a disaster you know, so bear with me. Here goes.

Are your business managers and employees ready for a disaster? Say it with meYes we are!

In this article I will explore the world of disaster recovery for businesses. This aspect of business practice is rarely funded, not practiced, and oftentimes forgotten. Nothing could be worse than losing friends and loved ones to a horrific tragedy, but people in this world will tell you that if something happens to them, they would want you to carry on. So to grant their wish lets use that sad energy and turn it into mad energy.

Its especially hard when you loose a great deal of your leadership structure, like the New York Fire Department did in the recent World Trade Center tragedy. As a matter of fact during my research for this article I found that many businesses either did not have a disaster recovery plan or it was so outdated that only certain aspect of it were still applicable. Small businesses are the ones most often hardest hit. These small businesses are often unprepared for a disaster. With few employees, there is usually no one designated to create a contingency plan, and with small budgets, there is often no money to fund a plan even if it’s created.

I found that even though there is an absence of contingency planning in small businesses, it can also be found in larger companies, but it is not as widespread. For example, many of the large businesses in the Oklahoma City area had recovery plans in effect, which helped them stay in business following the bomb’s explosion on April 19, 1995.

The Social Security Administration, which was housed in the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building, was able to continue client’s claims with no interruption, despite the fact that their business site was destroyed in the blast. Because of contingency planning, almost all information on Oklahoma’s 100,000 social security clients is stored at a computer center on the East Coast. When the disaster occurred, workers in Dallas immediately reassigned the workload to other offices and calls were routed to other offices where specially briefed staff members handled them.

Make a Move to the Future

futureOnce is all it takes to realize that your business is not going where you think it should. Likewise, once is all it will take to see how successful your business can be when guided down the right path. Sounds like a cliché, and it may be in some respects; but it’s really a modest wake up call to the realities of making a smart decision for your business and its promise of a successful future.

In the next two articles I will help your organization explore some approaches for preparing a vision for your organization. A vision is much like painting an abstract of your fruitful business on a canvas for everyone to see. Before you can paint, though, there are certain preparations to be made before you can start painting.

Before we explore the process of preparing a vision for your organization, it is only fair to tell you that the senior leadership of an organization can only carry out this process. It is possible that lower level management can develop a vision for their piece of the pie, but there should only be one vision statement for an organization. All other lower level vision statements will complement the vision of the organization in unison, with links and patterns that show relationship.

On any given day, an organization can write down what they do and put it into eloquent words, and it may appear in some trade show brochures or fancy annual reports. I think that is nice, but let’s look at what and why you write a vision and some steps to help you actually carry out this monumental task.

First of all, a vision should be a profound statement that provides everyone a visualization of the future — a desired state of the organization. It should reveal a quick but masterful look into the company’s future while rolling out any challenges the organization will meet in the next five to ten years.

As a senior leader, you should already know where you want your organization to be in the future. It should be no problem to have to put it into words, right? The main question I get asked is how do I know what my organization will be capable of in the future — say five to ten years from now. Well, no one really knows; the future is dark and unknown because it’s not staring you in the face. What you should concentrate on is four aspects of getting your organization to where you expect it to go. They are the vision statement, goals, objectives, and people.

Environmental Management is Good Business: Copenhagen Conference has Refocused People on Environment Management

envsClimate change is not something that will happen in the future; it is already here according a Guardian story on climate change. According to the story, a greater proportion of international disasters are now related to climate. And climate change is just one of the environmental issues facing the world.

Environmental Issues and their Impact

What exactly are environmental issues and how do these specifically affect people? The answer to these questions can be quite revealing (and shocking) to many. Below is an overview:

  • Global Warming: Increased emission of Carbon Dioxide and other hot gases into the environment is the perceived culprit in the climate change and consequent disasters. Climate change can not only result in such direct disasters as hurricanes and long winters but also affect agriculture and food availability.
  • Loss of Biodiversity: It is biodiversity in the form of numerous organisms that makes life on the world sustainable. Organisms make the soil fit for cultivation, destroy pests and maintain climate, among other things. Killing these organisms by destroying forests and other such practices can make life on the planet very different and difficult.
  • Water and Air Pollution: Persistent organic pollutants and toxic materials such as pesticides and industrial wastes can accumulate in living tissues disrupting endocrine systems, suppressing immunity functions and causing reproductive and developmental changes. And the pollutants can travel long distances crossing international borders through air, water and migratory species.
  • Land Degradation: Unsustainable felling of trees and exploitation of water can lead to desertification of presently habitable regions while destruction of mangroves and other practices can lead to erosion of coastal areas.

It will be obvious from the above that life on earth will be a very different proposal in the future if current human practices continue unchecked. The situation will be aggravated when the non-renewable energy sources such as oil get exhausted without any sustainable energy sources replacing them.

Environment Protection Initiatives

Governments and leaders have begun to recognize how serious the situation is and many initiatives are being taken. The Copenhagen Economic conference focused on environmental issues, for example. However, political compulsions and inadequate resources and projects are hampering sufficiently forceful action.

The initiatives include:

  • Creating awareness among the public is a major focus area. Results have also begun to appear with public resistance against many practices that lead to environment damage, such as cutting down trees and the preference for pesticide-free food.
  • Government regulations that have made businesses to take specific actions and avoid others to protect environment and public health. The US Environment Protection Agency (EPA) for example administers several laws such as the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, Endangered Species Act and several others. Trees cut from forests need to be compensated by replanting, fish catch is restricted and pollution control is a major focus area.
  • Research efforts are being intensified to tap renewable energy sources, such as solar, wind power and biomass energy. Biomass energy involves using waste materials such as wood chips, straw, sewage sludge and biowaste to generate energy. Unlike biofuels, biomass does not compete for resources that can be used for food.
  • Reputed businesses are developing alternatives that use less energy. For example, Siemens claims at their website that their combined-cycle power plants use hot waste-gases (that were formerly released into the environment) to generate steam for downstream turbines, reducing fuel needed to generate power by as much as 60%.
  • Standards and Reforms: ISO 14001, published by International Standards Organization, is a standard that seeks to focus the attention of industrial units on environmental issues. Accounting reforms seek to account for environmental costs of business operations, in addition to financial costs.

Businesses that act with environmental responsibility are even beginning to see improvements in their bottom lines.

Environmental management is more about managing the interactions of human societies with the environment rather than managing the environment. Human activities have led to considerable degradation of the environment and the situation is threatening to become dangerous to life on earth. Persistent toxic substances that do not degrade for months to years are already leading to poorer quality of life for people while climate change is leading to many disasters.

Internet Rates Slashed in India

internetThe Videsh Sanchar Nigam (VSNL), which controls Internet gateway in India, announced a massive reduction in tariffs for Internet leased lines and international private leased circuits (IPCL). The new rates are more than 70 percent lower. This drastic reduction in tariffs is in line with the falling international prices of optical fiber cable capacity. The rates of the leased lines at the fiber heads (Mumbai and Kochi) have been reduced sharply. The rates for 2-mbps Internet leased line have been slashed by 70 percent to Rs 1.25 million from Rs 4.18 million earlier. The corresponding rates for 2-mbps international private leased circuits link will now be Rs 4.0 million or a reduction of 76 percent from the previous cost of Rs 16.36 million on optical fibre cable to the US. The minimum period of commitment for the leased lines will be one year.

VSNL is also offering commitment discount for customers. For international private leased circuits, the discount has been raised from 10 percent on two-year commitment to 25 percent discount on five-year commitment. For the Internet leased lines, the discount is five percent for two years, rising to 20 percent on five years’ commitment.

The company is also giving an IRU price for high-speed (155 Mbps and above) leased lines. As per the scheme, a customer can buy a high-speed link for the life of the cable (15-20 years) with a lump sum payment. VSNL has also streamlined anomalies in tariffs. Under the present structure a single, unified tariff is applicable worldwide compared to different rates for European and American sub-continents in the past.

For the ordinary Internet user, the company announced reduction in the access charges. In the scheme announced in July the rates were 50 percent lower. In addition, VSNL has announced a free night package scheme offering free Internet access for customers between 11:00 p.m. and 8:00 a.m. on working days and for the whole day on Sundays. The new rates are applicable to both TCP/IP dial-up as well as for ISDN accounts. The company also has ‘Crackblok facility’ – a security feature for customers to enable access only from specified telephone numbers. This would prevent fraudulent use of accounts as well as provide more security for new applications like e-banking and share trading.

Sex, Lies and Domain Names

domainsThe Internet naming system is about to get the biggest shakeup it’s had in 10 years.

By the end of the year, not only will you be seeing domain names ending in .com and .org, but you also may be seeing names ending in .shop, .ibm, and .sex.

Yokohama Drama
On July 16, a new era for Internet naming started in Yokohama, Japan. At a meeting of ICANN, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, the decision was made to expand the domain name system to include new top level suffixes.

This is the biggest change in 10 years to the Internet naming system. ICANN, a private corporation in charge of determining future plans for domain naming, is taking applications for new top-level domains. Applications will be reviewed by ICANN to determine how the new name will benefit the Internet community, and to make sure each company applying will be able to handle the new domain registrations without disrupting the existing naming system.

“Expert” Commentary
Since the announcement, much of the commentary has focused on the idea that expanding the top-level domain name system will make it easier for people to get a good domain name. For example, MIT Internet authority Esther Dyson says “This will remove much of the artificial scarcity on the Web right now.”

Other experts say that this will cause an explosion in the number of top level domains, making it possible to get domain names dirt cheap. Some think this will fuel another explosion of growth in the Internet.

My View
The new domain names won’t make a big difference for most companies anytime soon. The decisions made at Yokohama were made by a corporation that, by and large, represents the interests of large Internet domain registrars.

The application cost, which is $50,000, will keep anyone but very large companies from applying. The companies likely to apply are companies like AOL and Microsoft, and the larger Internet domain name registrars.

For most individuals and companies, the changes will bring confusion and possibly additional costs.

There are three main arguments for the creation of new top-level domains:

  1. All the available .com real estate has been taken.
  2. The .net and .org domains have no commercial value because they are unmemorable.
  3. Increased competition in the domain name business will lower the costs for everyone.

Let’s take a look at these arguments and why they are wrong.

The Benefits of Business Coaching

There are many people that specialize in coaching. Football and basketball coaches, life coaches, and even voice coaches, so when starting a new adventure or investing time into a certain interest, it only makes sense to hire someone that knows the ins and out’s. For instance, when learning how to play a sport, an athlete needs to be taught how to run a play, hike a ball, hit one out of the park, or how to slam dunk.

A voice coach helps an aspiring vocalist reach those high notes, and a life coach mentors and gives practical direction to their students or clients. Considering these things, why wouldn’t a soon- to- be business owner hire one?

 

Business coaches are highly valuable. Because they’ve been in the client’s shoes they can relate to where they are, where they’ve been, and where they are trying to go. They’ve had to overcome the obstacles that the clients are facing and have made it over the same mountain that they are trying to climb.

 

There are different stages of coaching. The initial session is usually a meet and great. This helps the coach and client get to know each other. The coach can share the experience they have in their field and the client can share what interests them and what they see for their future.

 

If the client is in the initial stages of starting a business, they don’t always know how to get the ball rolling and some may not even know what kind of business they want to start. If this is the case, the coach can help them identify their strengths and weaknesses as well as develop a game plan.

 

A coach is greatly skilled and uses various techniques to help the client unearth their talents. For instance the coach will give assignments for the client to complete so they can be discussed in the next session. This is beneficial because if a client wants be an event planner, the coach can have them research the industry, and then create and plan an event such as a children’s party, anniversary, or family reunion. It’s through this research that the client will discover if this is actually their niche, and if it isn’t, the coach will change gears and move in a different direction.

 

In addition to weekly assignments, coaches provide resources to their client. The can recommend the best web hosting companies, the most affordable office products, and an easy way to market their products and services. This information is important to the small business owner that is trying to manage their time and save money.

 

Even though the client is excited about their progress and they are ready to spread their wings, they have to be flexible in the amount of time that it takes to start and finish the coaching sessions. Depending on the needs of the client, sessions can last anywhere from 3 weeks to 3 months, but this is a suitable amount of time for the coach to determine when the client is ready to take the reigns and venture out.

 

In the end, the client has gained confidence, new skills, and motivation, with encouragement from their coach. They are better educated and have a sense of accomplishment knowing they can start their new business and succeed.