Time to Exercise

Write the emergency plans, engage your associates, checked and double checked.  You put it all together.

You’ve completed a pretty in-depth risk assessment, reviewed processes, tweaked a few, distributed to all of the departments to ensure you’re all on the same page and you even got executive buy in.

That is one healthy document, make room on the shelf.

Now what?

What you should have said was it’s time to exercise.  Test it. Rework work it.  You planned it now work it.



Sitting around is not going to cut it.  In the event that you have to respond to an emergency event, would you rather work on keeping the business going or watching it go down hill?


workout  not exercising


Don’t just show up at the gym.

Do something while you’re there.




The benefits of emergency plan exercising are clear:

  • You create a greater consistency to your response
  • You learn to be more efficient with your resources
  • There becomes an increased confidence in your associates
  • You’ll build stronger relationships with your partners, vendors and community support.

You’re not the only thing that needs to stay fit…so does your business.  Find the time to exercise.

Plan the Work. Work the Plan.

Where did he go? And how does he keep his energy up?

Where-did-he-goI’ve been here listening and responding to your phone calls, emails, engagements, attending conferences, upgrading skills, delivering speeches, volunteering my time to passionate causes.  Staying energetic and informed.

Are you still energetic and informed?

All of those plans and procedures you created, are they still energetic and informed?  Are all of your colleagues that will be engaged during the time of crisis, are they still energetic and informed?

You better be.  It better be.  They better be.  Why?


The truth of the matter is that managing and experiencing a crisis is draining; emotionally, intellectually, and physically.


You and your colleagues need to be energetic about being prepared.  Your documents are energetic by virtue of the time you spend on them, and the information that is current and relevant within them.

energetic peopleThe training exercises and the updates you perform keep the energy going and the information current.

You and your colleagues need to find the formula that works for you and your organization.  The ultimate goal is keeping you energized and informed, and fellow staff associates energized and informed, both in time of a crisis or not.  Keep your eyes on keeping losses to a minimum, or mitigating them completely.  And always keep your eye on primarily remaining safe.

Stay energized.  Stay informed.  Plan the Work. Work the Plan.










Is it necessary?




So how far can you get with the questions below?  Do you know if you need to add a Social Media Crisis Management Plan to your list of existing plans?

You already have a set of crisis and emergency plans…you do don’t you?  Of course you do.  You wouldn’t operate your business without out them.


How do we know we need a Social-Media-Crisis-Management plan It all boils down to planning.  Followed by doing the work and doing it again.

Plan the Work. Work the Plan.

You may be one of them…

Newsmaker of the Year

So another year has passed.  So what do we know?  Actually, who do we know?

One thing I think we know for certain is that the title of “Newsmaker”, especially newsmaker of the year may not be the title you might be striving for or want bestowed upon you, at least not anymore.

So for fun I searched for the newsmaker of the year 2013 from various media sources to see who these individuals were.  Aside from a few obvious poor choices I was surprised to not see these types of people listed below.  Unfortunately I couldn’t name them all as this list is quite long and ever growing;

Emergency Management Offices staff – for their tireless and thankless efforts and decisions in getting many communities around the world through some of the worst of the worst this planet can throw at us and some of the worst of the worst mistakes man may have caused.

Citizen Responder – for stepping up and helping because it was the right thing to do.  For putting yourself on the line for a complete stranger and potentially giving up everything.

Emergency Service Responders – do I need to explain this one.  For standing in harms way to protect us, for patching and repairing us when we’re broken and for some reason going into a burning building when the rest of us are getting out.

Our military service personnel – long list of newsmakers there.

Our Public Works employees battling on the front lines of mother nature so that we can have power, to eat, to stay warm, to watch video clips of them on the news battling the storm.

Emergency Preparedness Planners, Designers, Writers, Responders – those individuals in the private sector striving to come up with the best prepared plans, procedures and sometimes on the fly “Hail Mary pass” executions to make it safe for us to get out when we need to get out.

The security staff protecting millions and millions of dollars in assets daily and nightly while maybe the storm or flooding or fires rage on and you didn’t have to go to work.

My list could go on.  These are a portion of a list of the newsmakers of the year in my books.  I appreciate that many of those media generated lists are filled with great leaders that have done great things for all of us and my list of suggestions is to not diminish their achievements in anyway as I applaud them and thank them also for their contributions.

The real point of this article is for us to sit back and reflect on what it really should mean to be a newsmaker and although we may never be able to publicly acknowledge each and every individual for their unselfish acts and actions (as many didn’t go into looking for thanks anyways), do we really need to put a bigger spotlight on those that may not exactly deserve it.

Let’s make 2014 a year to thank the real newsmakers.

Plan the Work. Work the Plan.

Your Risk Resolution


Let it be resolved that some of you will look back at this past year and know that you’ll be reviewing what worked, what didn’t work, what needs to be re-written or added and some of you won’t.  That some of  you will have a new risk assessment completed to confirm already identified risks and potentially new ones and that you’ll get quick to composing new procedures, policies and training to hopefully mitigate those newly found risks and unfortunately some of you won’t.

Some of you will have noticed that natural hazards and risks are on the rise.  This may not affect all to the extreme but will affect all to some degree.

Yes I agree this time of year we find that many in our own businesses are on holidays spending well deserved time with family and friends.  I truly hope you have that opportunity also.

But, to be the black hat thinker that I am (it’s a curse)…risk knows not the difference between night and day, week day or weekend, hot or cold weather and most certainly whether or not you’re on vacation.  What is known, to you and to your colleagues is to whether or not you are as best prepared as you can possibly be.  You will never be completely ready because that’s an impossible dream…but you can most certainly be as prepared as you possibly can for a list of risks and hazards as long if not longer than my leg (and I’m not that tall).  But that’s truly the key…be prepared for as many scenarios as you can think of, re-thinking, re-training and re-planning is a winning formula.

So if you haven’t left for the holiday season yet, maybe you can take a quick moment and compose your new year risk resolution now…won’t take you long, I encourage you to include a colleague, you’d be surprised what can be accomplished in that small conversation of ideas.

Plan the Work.  Work the Plan.


What do you do as a profession?

What do you doNow there’s a question I get asked a lot.  Reasonable question.  Honestly asked.  Pure curiosity.  Not always the easiest to answer.

So how have I answered that question in the past?  I’ve tried the formal route: “I’m a consultant that specializes in Security Management, Risk Management and Emergency Management”  Usually followed by the next question of, so what really is all that?  Then I of course would dive in to explain each segment of my statement.

So I changed it up.  “I save companies time, money, liability, I inconvenience some but hopefully help to save lives”  Well that peaked the interest of many.  The money and liability statement peaked the interest of the business crowd whilst the saving lives peaked everyone’s interest.

DefencemanI was at a personal engagement and amongst the various conversations about this and that, that were totally unrelated to anyone’s work, I made a slightly humorous comment about doing one thing so that we can accomplish another and the gentleman said “…and that from a security guy…trying to figure out all the angles…” and then he said this “…it’s like knowing where the puck is going to be”  A wow went off in my head.

You see, as a much younger person I was quite heavily into organized sports, especially hockey and I played defence.  In fact I played right defence but shot left.  Another story for another time.  But to be a good hockey player you need to anticipate where the puck is going to be.  So either you can intercept it from an opponent or accept a pass from a teammate, or block the shot, or be able to take that winning goal shot.

Much of what I do is trying to figure out what is going to happen, how best to get it done, how people are going to react and what is the best way to get them to do what they need to do.  Anticipating where the puck is going is a skill set that I discovered and honed whilst playing hockey.  Bobby Orr was one of my childhood idles and in my opinion was one of the greatest hockey players that did just that.  That made him a great defenceman.

broomBut I had another recent related experience while at Spanish class.  Yes I took a conversation Spanish class in hopes to learn another language a little better than I know it now.   Anyways, it was a conversation with my Spanish instructor in how she delivers her lessons.  She hopes not to blow through content and would rather her students learn and understand the structure of the language rather than just learning how to say words, whilst not understanding the basics and having a base to build from  Which of course, you guessed it, reminded me of when I was again a younger man learning weightlifting.  For the first month my weightlifting coach (Charlie Arnett – great guy, huge, but the kindness and  one of the most gentle hearted men I know) only allowed me to lift a broom stick for the first month of training.  What! The basics and techniques needed to be learned first before he would let me move on to anything else

So what does Spanish and weightlifting have to do with this?  Back to what I do as a profession…I review what your company, organization have in place and I take the basics (known best practices and standards) and I apply them to what your company, organization has ( or even create new), overlaying the knowledge of where the company, organization is, what your business does, and what your needs are.  Put that all into either your Security procedures, your Emergency preparedness training or your Emergency Response Plans.


I assist your company, organization in figuring out what it’s broom stick is, what will be it’s foundation.  All the while listening, writing, reviewing, coaching, and delivering the company, organization a product that will then allow your company, organization to work with it and begin to see where the puck is going to be.

Plan the Work (creating the broom stick foundation). Work the Plan (learning and honing the skills to see where the puck is going to be)

Impressionable Security Culture Maintenance


Pretty hefty title to the article.  So what does it mean?  Let first start by tearing it apart.

Impressionable and at the very least the root word Impression.  Impressionable means to be easily influenced.  Impression is often defined as or something like an effect, feeling, or image retained as a consequence or end result of an experience.

Security Culture.  So many of you may work in a corporate environment that has a dominant security culture.  That’s been created either by way of processes that needed to be followed such as your physical access privileges or by way of expectation whereby security violations socially and morally unacceptable in the group.

Maintenance.  The process of preserving something or a certain condition.  So in the context of this article, maintaining a security culture.


So does what does this image say to you?  (For those who don’t recognize this device its a panic station.  Push a button, summons security to your location.  Many educational institutions have the deployed across their campuses and quite often integrate them into their video surveillance systems.)

panic stationMy immediate impression is that this is not valued.  This is not needed.  Especially when the refuge container is only five feet away, this device has been given the same value and purpose. This is a very expensive yet convenient drink holder.  A convenient shelf.

So why is that?  The message about…

what this is, what it is to be used for, why it’s there, why it’s needed, it’s value

…is not clearly expressed to the entire environment.

Let me describe the environment a little more.  This particular device is situated at the front door area of a prominent university in Canada (had I posted the original daylight photo you’d probably know where this is, also goes to show you that the garbage was there when I returned many hours later).  Sure the garbage was put there by lazy individuals who were most likely if asked “in a hurry”.  But this is at the front door and the fact that it was at the front door really doesn’t matter.  So when visiting this campus this is my first impression of what the safety and security culture or attitude is.  There isn’t one, at best its not strong.  This may or may not fizz some parents dropping off their kids to go here but may have stuck in the memories of many, including the students, visitors (as I was) and even visiting emergency services personnel.

So why do we accept it?  Listen, there was an agreed need to have such a device placed in dozens and dozens of locations at this particular campus.  I know that similar locations have been tagged with graffiti, notices about parties and so on.  I don’t mean to pick on this particular educational institutions because this sort of behavior happens on corporate campuses also.

My point in this rant…if you’re going to find the need to have these devices or many other safety and security devices, there needs to be a culture of understanding as to why they need to be there, what the devices are to be used for and that the need for everyone to ensure that they are readily available, free from obstruction, and free from unwanted distraction.  It’s not just the safety and security departments job to make this happen, its the faculty’s, the student body, visitors.  Anyone who appreciates the value of what this represents.  If the buy in exists throughout out and is maintained throughout, the impressions will last a lot longer.

Plan the Work. Work the Plan.

Well that just happened.

warning-mass-confusion-aheadI really can’t believe this happens.

Here’s some context.  I’ve had the fortunate opportunity to interact with, read the material of, and visit several post secondary institutions lately and I can’t understand how this happens.

My concerns revolves around spelling mistakes, sending people into possible danger, spending the money and not using it, not sharing or teaching and simply letting it collect dust.  Where do I start?  Have you ever tried to write something down about something you’re so passionate about that you just can’t type fast enough.  That’s this article.

Okay, so I pick up this pamphlet…and let me start by saying that I’m not going to name the post secondary institutions because I’ve reached out to them in hopes that they re-think about and rectify my concerns.  So back to the pamphlet…so I pick up this pamphlet and it’s titled Security Information & Emergency Procedures.  The pamphlet for those that need to know was on display in the common bathrooms  I didn’t see it anywhere else other than the security office.  So I read through it, well organized in appearance, a splash of color for affect to distinguish emergencies.  But unfortunately riddled with spelling and grammatical mistakes.  Now, I’m not perfect in that area but at least I know where my spell check icon is.

The real classic line within the pamphlet was that the on-site security staff will make the determination if the threat of a bomb is valid enough to call the police, if the device or package found is valid enough to call the police.  Seriously, I know what level of training the staff has received, and that’s not to be taken as a shot at the staff.  None of them has the experience or the training for that matter to make the determination if a suspicious package has the ability to be detonated.  So I have the concern about the message they’re sending out.  The false sense of expertise they may want to display to the impressionable student.  Look around, many of these students are what they call mature students, professionals taking additional schooling to advance their careers, internet savvy students that know how to Google more stuff and information just to agree or disagree with their professors.  So really!

“In the event of a Lockdown…leave”.  Huh?  Might as well not call it your Lockdown procedure but just pandemonium announcement.  Leave…go where?  Where is the threat?  Right beside you, but you didn’t know that, you may have actually been safer staying in the room you were in, locking the door, and staying away from sight or as I like to call it Hide with Pride.  Why would you send someone into harms way?  You may not have meant to write that, but you did.  You have a chance to fix it, and so you should.

The not sharing scares me.  So I’m at a business function representing one of the charities I volunteer for.  During a conversation I’m asked what I do in my daily life.  So I explain and the next thing I know I’m knee deep into a conversation about emergency response procedures.  Turns out the individuals I’m speaking with are part time professors at one of these institutions that know these procedures exist but have never received an orientation, a training manual but know that they’re responsible for the students in their class spaces when the lights start flashing or the bells start ringing or announcements come over the half of the public address system that still works.  You would think that in an education institution they might be able to even pull off a podcast or webinar of training for their staff…maybe not.

My final beef, and thank you for letting me get this off my chest, is that I’ve seen because I’ve been part of the process, emergency response procedures get created, get tested once and never to be really looked at ever again.  That information, those exercises, those books were paid for to be used.  They aren’t something that’s just there to show that you were involved in a major project that took some time to complete…and that the table top or mock exercises were ‘fun’ to do…use them.  Keep having table top discussions and exercises, review those procedures annually at minimum.  I mean really review them, read each page to make sure the information is still correct.  Things change.

The more informed your population is, the more prepared they are, the more included in the process they feel, the more likely they’re going to be involved and not confused.  End result, less loss, reduced downtown, quicker return to normalcy.

Like I always say, Plan the Work.  Work the Plan.  It’s not going to do it itself.

What’s keeping you up at Night?

up at night 1



Often when I meet or speak with clients this is a question that inevitably makes its way into the conversation.

What keeps you up at night?

What do you worry about?  What are you afraid of happening?  What are you of afraid of not happening?

In our personal lives away from work we worry about the late night knock at the door…who is it?  Or that our daughter has gone on her first date and we stay awake waiting for her safe return or our son has the car out for the first time with his friends and we hope that the lessons and wisdom we’ve imparted on him stick and that peer pressure is not the prevailing  piece of advice for the night.

In our professional lives it’s the terrorism attacks, it’s the active shooters, it’s the multiple explosive devices placed on our property to be remotely detonated causing mass panic and terror….No…No it’s not.

What keeps us awake at night is the same thing that happens in our personal lives, the worry that something is going to happen that we can’t control and that we may need to manage well into the problem existing.  Are we prepared enough?  Did we do enough to train the staff?  Did we purchase the right equipment?  Are we up to date?

So what do we do?  We plan for it, we write about it, we seek advice on it, we talk it over with our colleagues, we stay up to date on pro-active trends, we conduct risk assessments to ensure we’re prepared for the right things and not just the flavor of the month emergencies, we practice it and we do it all over again and again.

I’d be interested to here what’s keeping you up at night.  I sleep well.  Actually that’s not entirely true.  I worry about you not getting enough sleep.  So let’s work on getting you there.

Remember…Plan the Work, Work the Plan.



InterpretFunny word.  Not funny ha ha.  Funny in the sense that in the security, risk and emergency management world there seems to be a lot of it.  Almost contradictory on some level.  Somewhere in the back of minds of many is a wish that during an emergency event, a highly sensitive security situation or where risk to persons, business, property and/or reputation that we don’t feel the need to interpret the instructions or guidance we’ve been given to respond appropriately for the situation at hand.

Of course the root of the word is interpret.



  • Explain the meaning of (information, words, or actions)

So that could be anything and everything from what your plans says, what your supervisor or responding emergency services authority said to you or others or what you think you saw someone else do and so on.

Let’s not forget what got you there in the first place.  You interpreted the need for a threat risk assessment which led you down a path that you and maybe your colleagues and supervisor thought a full emergency response plan was needed.

You proposed that the amount of time and cost associated with such a venture would cost X$.  Your manager thought it didn’t need to be so robust and felt a couple of the procedures could be removed bringing it down to Y$.

The executive team reviewed the idea and again and saw it a little differently.  It was a more “compact precise plan” in their eyes only costing A$.

So the plan rolls out.  An incident occurs which unfortunately you didn’t have a complete procedure on but a couple that slightly referenced this type of incident.  The costs associated are 10 times the amount if not more of the original proposal of X$.  The reputation impact is still being calculated and really won’t be known for some time.

Your legal team actually thinks that once it gets settled in court it’s going to cost more.  The judge presiding interprets the reasons why your organization did or didn’t do something slightly differently impacting your organization with orders from the bench to rectify this concern moving forward.  And yes that costs money.

So with all of the various interpretations along the way, could all of this possibly been prevented?  I wish.  The answer is most likely no, but the impact of sitting back and taking into account all of the interpretations and the best worst case scenarios helps.

Plan the Work.  Work the Plan.