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  • Writer's pictureErika Andresen

You Already Know What You Know (If You're a Veteran)

Last week was national Veteran Owned Small Business Week! This week has Veteran's Day. I'm a veteran so I am choosing to focus on veterans and business continuity.

Did you know if you are a veteran, you already know business continuity? In the military it's called continuity of operations (COOP) and it is done every day by everyone, whether they realize it or not. The military is like one giant 24/7 international corporation but it has one mission and if any of the cogs stop working or go offline, it risks the entire mission. That is unacceptable. So the military makes sure they do everything to make sure that doesn't happen.

One of the ways the military does this is the practice of creating continuity books. Those are binders of information - most accessed resources, decision tress, SOPs, templates, important upcoming events/dates relevant to the position, and maps of the sharedrive. This is done so the next person coming in once the military moves the incumbent is able to get up to speed quickly and have a sporting chance of being able to do the job on day one if needed. Of course there is a learning curve to get better but the new person is given a leg up and a map to success.

That's not to say the process is flawless. I've been the recipient of some pretty bad continuity books. One thought it would be great for me to make my in he had all the answers and felt there was value in me hunting down all the information with no help -- with him sitting next to me. I assessed him as someone who didn't understand leadership and wasted valuable time. Another person left me a disk with over 600 files. Without having met her (she vacated the position 2 weeks before I showed up), I knew she wasn't very efficient at her job (and I confirmed it by asking people still there who worked with her). She couldn't determine what was important so if everything is important, nothing is important.

I learned how to make great continuity books from both those that were terrible (don't do that) and great (more of that). It's a lesson that not everyone gets correct right away.

Interesting point? The civilian business world doesn't really do this setting up others for success...and continuity.

Since it is something veterans inherently do, they are good for careers in business continuity. This is so true that the Disaster Recovery Institute International - the body that gives out the Certified Business Continuity Professional qualification - has a Veteran Outreach Program. This program has a scholarship for active duty and recently (within 5 yrs) separated service members. It includes the BCLE 2001 course (required with other things to get the CBCP designation) and associated application fees. The course is taught by a veteran, which makes the material easier when someone can relate a concept to what you already know.

There are a lot of things that private businesses can learn from the military, COOP - or business continuity - is one of them. Business owners have their mission, too, to serve their customers and the community.

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