Many of you, like myself, will have watched the Queens Diamond Jubilee River Pageant and seen the Royal barge and the 1000 accompanying ships pass down the Thames. Despite the terrible weather, and the fact the pageant over ran, the event finished without any unforeseen events. According to the reports, the entire event took 3 years to plan, right down to the minutest detail including the marshalling of the ships beforehand, the dispersal afterwards and the planning of the actual pageant itself. I saw on TV that every ship was inspected prior to the event to check it was seaworthy and that the correct safety equipment was aboard. There were also police boats in place to stop any protestors or publicity seekers (like at the Oxford and Cambridge boat race) getting near the Queen and there was an emergency lane which could be used by the Police and the Port Authority in the event of a ship breaking down or an emergency.
For business continuity people I think this is a very good example of how to plan for an event or an incident which could affect your organisation. The planning was done in detail over a reasonable time prior to the event, and included a number of activities such as inspecting ships and all contingencies had been thought of and plans prepared. The planners of the pageant had an advantage over us in that they knew the date of the event and so had a definite time to plan, as opposed to business continuity managers who do not know when their incident will occur. Even though we do not know when our incident will occur, I think this event shows us a good example of how preparation is the key to ensuring that your event or incident will be conducted according to the plan. It has to be noted that things did go wrong on the day, including the terrible weather, but they had factored this into their plans and the whole event was largely unaffected by them. I think the overall lesson from this event is things will always go wrong on the day but planning works. If you want to have effective business continuity plans, you have to put in the detailed planning work.
The Olympics is coming up which is likely to affect many UK organisations. As there is a set date for the event you will have no excuse not to put in the appropriate level of planning for your organisation to make sure your critical activities carry on unaffected by the games.