Your disaster recovery plan needs to be both thorough and simple. Simplicity is key because, unfortunately, all the planning in the world isn’t going to save us from ourselves in case of emergency, our brains will fail us.
Your brain on crisis
Basically, your brain, when confronted with a crisis, shuts down. The shut-down may be temporary, but it’s very real.
Your hippocampus consolidates information for you. It stores information, information like the first action on your disaster recovery plan. When your hippocampus is confronted with new information, like say a tornado or water main break, it is responsible for switching you over to stress-response mode. This is a good thing, but when your hippocampus hits the stress button indicating that your body should release cortisol from your adrenal glands, it shuts itself down and waits until there’s a good level of the hormone circulating in your body.
So in those first instances when you’re confronted with crisis, your brain won’t be focusing on your disaster recovery plan, and unless that plan is simple, it might take a while for your brain to get back to it.
There is no substitute for experience
In a crisis situation, there is no substitute for experience. Interestingly enough, that experience does not need to be first-hand. But, unless you’ve seen a movie about or previously experienced first-hand the tornado/earthquake/flood/ that is happening to your business right now, experience is no help to you. You’ll have to learn from others’ experience as best you can to prepare.
Watching others make the right decisions in the case of emergency has actually proven to create “vicarious reinforcement” and by default vicarious coping mechanisms that can save lives.
Practicing evacuation routes and discussing the steps involved with your business continuity plan will help save lives in a disaster. Walk through your plan to test it and get employees familiar with it so when their hippocampus shuts down, they already know what to do and where to go.
When you build your disaster recovery plan, take into account the experience level of your employees. Put people in charge who will be able to best react to a crisis-situation, be that because of company training or outside experience.
Overall, ensure there is an element of simplicity in your disaster recovery plan and ensure that the plan is known and well-rehearsed. It’s not possible to prepare for every disaster, but it is possible to practice a simple plan that will save lives and information during a crisis.