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Monthly Archives: January 2016

I know that it’s only January, but this year’s prize for a misquote must go to Fire Security Ltd, who have stated the following on their website  “According to research by economic analysts Mel Gosling and Andrew Hiles, 70 per cent of businesses would fail after a fire – either by not reopening immediately after the blaze, or gradually dwindling in resources and effectiveness to close within three years”.

I have spent many years trying to debunk this myth, and some years ago Andrew and I jointly published our research on the much quoted statistic and its many variations (see Now I find that I’m being quoted as not only supporting the myth, but as having undertaken and published research showing it to be true!

How did Fire Security Ltd come to believe this? Is it deliberate, or a genuine mistake? I’m not one to believe in Machiavellian plots – the “cock-up” theory is usually right, but I’m struggling to understand how anyone could read the research that Andrew and I published and reach the conclusion that they did. Maybe someone from Fire Security Ltd had heard about the myth (most people have) and Googled it – only to find that we had done some research, and then just looked at the 2 line extract that Google provides and decided to quote us without going to or reading the link. Is that what passes for intelligent research nowadays?

I could become famous for proving that 80% of businesses that suffer from a major incident and do not have a business continuity plan go out of business within 18 months (not to mention being thought of as an “economic analyst”), which would be terribly ironic.

In case anyone out there has any doubt, I believe this statistic and its many variations to be not only a total myth, but absolute rubbish.

I have been further convinced of the need for the Business Continuity (BC) profession to get back to its fundamentals by the juxtaposition of the publication by the Business Continuity Institute (BCI) of a comprehensive list of legislation, regulations, standards and guidelines in the field of Business Continuity Management (BCM) and the experience of many business that were affected by the recent floods in the north-west of England.

Some small businesses, mainly those that operate and serve very local markets, have temporarily closed until their premises can be refurbished, but others are up and running and continuing to trade even though their premises were badly flooded. The businesses that are back up and running had implemented BC, but not in the way envisaged by the BC profession through its standards and guidelines.

These businesses had taken steps to ensure that they could recover from incidents like the recent flooding by doing such things as backing up their data, implementing cloud computing, knowing where they could obtain replacement premises and equipment, being able to redirect their telephones, and having adequate insurance cover. They are also managed by people who know how to respond to incidents, are committed to the continued success of their business, and know what needs to be recovered by when without having to read a plan.

None of these businesses had implemented a formal BCM programme, none of them had followed any guidelines, and none of them had implemented a Business Continuity Management System (BCMS) or been certified to a BCM standard.

The publication by the BCI of a comprehensive list of BCM legislation, regulations, standards and guidelines is very useful, and I’m not decrying it. But, and it is a very big but, the purpose of BC is to enable organisations to be resilient to incidents that affect their ability to operate. The people who own and run business in the north-west of England that had taken steps to ensure that they could recover from the recent flooding are practising the fundamentals of BC, and by and large have never even heard of BCM legislation, regulations, standards and guidelines.

Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with BCM legislation, regulations, standards and guidelines, but they are not the end in itself. I sometimes think that BC professionals lose sight of this.