Skip navigation

Tag Archives: impact

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’ve just had an interesting customer experience that is probably the very opposite of what Business Continuity (BC) is supposed to be about. Instead of ensuring that it could continue provide its essential services, an airport taxi company that I was booked with charged me, the customer, an additional amount because their telephone system failed!

I was flying back from Hong Kong to Manchester via Dubai when the flight from Hong Kong was delayed by 4 hours because of a tropical hailstorm over Hong Kong, causing me to miss the connection in Dubai. I was due to be picked up at Manchester Airport by the airport taxi company from the original flight, and the agreement that I had with them was that if I needed to change the pick-up time then there would be an additional charge unless I gave them at least 12 hours notice.

Dutifully, I called their contact number using my mobile, but after one ring the connection was terminated. In all I tried 15 times until, in desperation, just before I boarded the new flight that I had been re-scheduled on to from Dubai to Manchester I called our house cleaner to see if she was available to actually go to the airport taxi company in person to tell them that my pick-up time needed to be changed.

Fortunately, my cleaner was available and went to the airport taxi company where I called her mobile and spoke to the company on her mobile. By this time, of course, the 12 hour limit had passed, but the company acknowledged that there was a problem with their contact phone line and I did manage to re-arrange the pick-up time.

When I finally arrived at Manchester Airport I was given a letter by the driver informing that there would be an extra charge because I failed to advise the company of the change in arrangements in time, but because their contact phone wasn’t working they would give me a discount.

So, they had a failure of the phone system, and they wanted me, the customer, to pay an additional charge because they did not manage to provide continuity of an essential service.

As you can imagine, I won’t be using this company again.

In undertaking a Business Impact Analysis (BIA), the analyst is required to estimate the impact on the organisation of a disruption to a product, services, process, or activity. If you read the literature about undertaking a BIA, you will often find lists of types of impact that can be considered, such as financial or reputational, and in many instances you will see something such as “Damage to the Environment” listed as an impact. This is incorrect, and in a common misconception.

It is incorrect because something such as “Damage to the Environment” is not an impact on the organisation. It is an impact that a disruptive event can have, but the impact on the organisation is what happens as a result. Including such things as a direct impact on the organisation confuses cause with effect. A well known example will illustrate what I mean.

The Deep Water Horizon oil spill has a major impact on the environment of the Gulf of Mexico, but the impact on BP was not environmental. The impact on BP was the reputational damage, the cost of cleaning up the oil spill, the compensation claims, and the fall in share price. Yes, “Damage to the Environment” is an impact, but only in so much as it is the cause of real impacts on the organisation.

Confusing cause and effect is, in my opinion, one of the common causes of poor BIA’s in the public sector. This is because analysts naturally look at the wider effects on society of a disruption to services, rather than the impact on the public sector organisation itself.