Snowstorms and the Lesson of Planning

Eric Riz

by Eric Riz on 1/27/2015

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North America awoke this morning to find out what damage Mother Nature caused in New York City and the New England states. Of course, we now know that the storm was a fraction of what meteorologists called for, and most in the vicinity of New York are breathing a sigh of relief. I’m sure comedians and New Yorkers themselves will be compiling a laundry list of false-alarm related jokes, but I for one commend the mayor and his staff for taking all necessary precautions to keep the city safe.

What New York City dealt with in business terms is an unknown-known. The former referring to size of the storm, but the latter connecting to the known fact that there will be a snowstorm. Living in Toronto, we have had many of these false-alarms over the years due to possible lake effect snow. I can tell you based on many years of experience that it only takes one car crash to congest an entire downtown core. While it is easy to say they went overboard with their precautions, they can also take pride in knowing there were no traffic accidents, and everyone got home in a reasonable amount of time last night.

Naturally, I’m going to tie this back to planning and preparedness, change and risk management as it relates to SharePoint. We all know that working on a SharePoint project is going to yield its share of snowstorms that will have users seeking cover in advance of the pending storm. We know that there will be a "mayor" and team who are responsible for the "citizens" of the community, trying to ensure that everyone has the best experience possible given the circumstances. The lesson to be learned here is that, much like a snowstorm befalling a city, there are a massive number of precautions that can be worked out ahead of a storm. For example, I can assure you that New York City had the appropriate number of plows (in fact, they have double that of Toronto), salt, workers, fuel and budget to pay these hardworking staffers overtime for their efforts to clear the roadways.

Whether you are working on your deployment or support plans, work with the information you have on hand to plan out something that makes sense for your organization. Be the person who stands in front of a room of people and set expectations that people can work with. Explain what a new business process will do, or how an augmented workflow has been changed to accommodate an important change to the business. Discuss the elements that matter to each person in the room, including training plans and support systems. We all have "snowstorms" in our personal and professional lives, but it’s up to each of us to play Mayor and decide whether we will be proactive or reactive.

Topic: Business Strategy

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