Continuity/Contingency Planning

Continuity planning, also often called Contingency Planning, is a systematic, well thought out development of plans to refer to when something goes awry. Careful study of numerous case histories paired with common sense clearly illustrate that the better prepared we are for an event, the greater the likelihood of our coping with it.

It occasionally comes as a surprise to our clients when they realize that although they have sophisticated continuity planning for their business they rarely input as much effort into a plan for themselves. And the higher up the socio-economic ladder they go, the more detailed the plans need to be as the ripple effect is correspondingly greater. This is even more important when the individual is in a position where a negative event can impact stock prices or the public’s perception of the individual.

The classic celebrity example is the dashboard camera recording an altercation between a highway patrolman and well-known actress who, by her own admission the next day, "had one drink too many". In hindsight, it is painfully evident that no formal protocols had been developed for a top tier Hollywood celebrity who had occupied a "nice girl" position in the public eye for years. Regardless of her true persona, that event will be with her forever.

The list of errors in both the Corporate and Celebrity world is near endless. Almost all could have been avoided by a rationale plan developed prior to the event.

The world’s most tragic example is the death of Princess Diana. The bodyguard permitted the driver, who was clearly under the influence by all accounts, to take the wheel. The rest is history. Again, it is painfully evident that no protocols existed for such a contingency and this oversight resulted in catastrophic loss for all parties concerned.

Any competent planning begins with a security audit to find out what is potentially fatal/damaging to the client. Each set of responses is different based upon the unique needs of the individual and areas that are deemed "disastrous" for some are "incidental" for others. The point is that boilerplate does not work as there are too many variables to consider.

The second phase is to develop, in the clearest language possible, the appropriate flow charts and control mechanisms to clearly define who does what when situation "X" occurs. A solid contingency plan is in fact a document that can be archived and updated on an annual basis. A competent Contingency Planning team will also actually communicate with the appropriate Family Office, legal, and corporate elements to ensure the plan is feasible. It doesn’t always work that way.

CASS Global is different because we take it one step further. In our opinion plans are merely blueprints if they have never been tested. And the first test should not occur when it is a life and death moment. Therefore, we insist on (at a minimum) tabletop exercises with all the key personnel present and we push very hard to execute a full scale rehearsal for selected contingencies. If there is a hiccup in communications, financial protocols, or indecision as to who is exactly in charge of what, it is far better to discover it during rehearsals and resolve it rather than be standing in a circle going "now what" in a moment of extreme duress.

The bottom line is that by developing intelligent responses to anticipated events we are in fact training hard to fight easy. It’s the same old doctrine that states, "the more you sweat in training the less you bleed in combat."

Contingency planning is where it all starts.