Business Continuity and Organizational Resilience at the United Nations


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This is the slide deck for the presentation delivered to the New York City metro chapter of the Association of Contingency Planners of New York on 20 February 2014. The presentation describes the foundations for the approach to risk and emergency management, and an updated on the Organizational Resilience Management System.

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  • General AssemblyThe main deliberative, policymaking and representative organ of the United Nations.Committees: First (Disarmament & Intl Security), Second (Economic and Financial), Third (Social, Humanitarian & Cultural), Fourth (Special Political and Decolonization), Fifth (Administrative and Budgetary) and Sixth (Legal)The Peacebuilding Commission: The Peacebuilding Commission (PBC) is an intergovernmental advisory body that supports peace efforts in countries emerging from conflict, and is a key addition to the capacity of the International Community in the broad peace agenda.The Security CouncilThe Security Council is the principal organ of the UN with the primary responsibility for maintaining international peace and security. All members of the United Nations agree to accept and carry out decisions of the Security Council. Member States have an obligation to implement Security Council decisions.The Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC)ECOSOC is the place where issues related to economic, social and environmental challenges are discussed, debated and policy recommendations issued. It is held in alternate years in New York and Geneva. It meets throughout the year, but holds its main substantive session in July.International Court of Justice (ICJ)The ICJ is the principal judicial organ of the United Nations. The ICJ’s role is to settle legal disputes submitted to it, and to give advisory opinions on legal questions referred to it by authorized United Nations organs and specialized agencies. The seat of the ICJ is in the Hague, the only Principal Organ of the UN not located in New York.Trusteeship CouncilThe Trusteeship Council was established to supervise the administration of Trust Territories placed under the Trusteeship System. It suspended its operations in 1994, but can meet on decision of its President, or at the request of a majority of its members, General Assembly or Security Council.SecretariatThe Secretariat carries out the diverse day-to-day work of the Organization. It services the principal organs of the United Nations and administers the programmes and policies laid down by them.General Organization: Department, Office, Division, Service/Units
  • The UN tends to rely on the ‘Super Hero’ approach to emergency managementThis is effective for simple and complicated problems, but fails in the face of complexity and anarchyWe need a system that provides the fundamentals to allow staff and management to Prepare, Prevent, Respond and Recover from disastersORMS provides just that
  • Explain diagram:Simple: easy and knowable (like preparing a Phone Tree)Complicated: knowable, but requiring multi-disciplinary knowledge to solve (like building a nuclear bomb)Complex: some predictability, but not fully knowable as the relationship between cause and effect can only be determined retrospectively (like raising a child)Anarchy: unpredictable and unknowableIf you are in the system long enough, your career will be dominated by extreme eventsOur system must therefore be able to deal with all of these problemsTo be coherent and effective, emergency management must consist of three elements:PlansStructures to implement and governBehavioural change programme
  • Explain graphicSituation awareness itself has three levels:Level 1 (Perception): Perception is about picking up sensory cues from the environmentLevel 2 (Comprehension): Comprehension involves combining sensory cues and interpreting the informationLevel 3 (Projection): Projection deals with forecasting what might happen nextUnderstanding a situation rests on identifying an appropriate set of perception elements, higher level comprehension patterns/templates and forecast operators. A situation awareness system understands its environment at multiple levels:The Perception of events in raw data streamsComprehension of situationsProjection (or prediction) of likely futuresSituation awareness for crisis coordinators involves scanning the environment for perception cues; reasoning about these cues, connecting, hypothesizing, testing and ultimately comprehending these cues; and finally, forecasting what might happen next.Maintaining situation awareness of an incident allows watch ocers to eectively plan and implement responses, anticipate and manage requests for information about incidents.Sense MakingTimely and accurate information is essential in a crisisEspecially localDetect unusual incidentsDecision MakingDetermine needsIdentify resourcesMatch volunteer resources with needsClassify and review high-value messages during an incidentIdentify, track and manage issues within an incidentMeaning MakingForge collaborative relationships that facilitate responseLearningLocal networks to identify the vulnerable and to raise awareness and preparednessUpdate vulnerability informationPerform forensic analysis of incidents
  • What keeps us awake at night: Black Swan events
  • Requested by the General AssemblyPre-2005/2006, the emergency management landscape was primarily comprised of security and humanitarian contingency planning2006/2007: BCM and IT DR in response to the threat of pandemic influenza [Inflection Point]2010: Support to Staff, Survivors and Families following the Haiti earthquake [Source of the GA request to develop a comprehensive emergency management framework]2012: Crisis Communications following Hurricane SandyReduce the burden on offices to implement emergency managementDuring BCM roll out in the AFP, it was recognized that implementing all emergency management programmes separately posed a significant burden on offices, especially those in the fieldThis is typical of what is referred to as a ‘Programme’ approachIt makes sense, especially when resources are limited, to leverage each other’s capacity and to harmonize activitiesEnhance management of operational riskAll emergency management elements are tied together by riskThey also share the common objective of enhancing the management of specific risksLet’s move to that topic now
  • ORMS is a comprehensive risk based emergency management methodology to prepare for, prevent, respond and recover from disasters, that can be applied in all duty stations irrespective of size, organizational structure and culture, and risk exposureAt its essence, ORMS involves:Harmonization of emergency management planning and plansCommon governance and implementation structures for emergency managementJointly conducted emergency management awareness, training and exercisesEmphasize risk-based approach, with risk prevention and mitigation, and situational awarenessImplementation Standards will describe principles and define roles and responsibilities, which can be applied to meet local conditionsPhased ImplementationUNHQOAHs, RCs, and DPKO and DPA field missionsAgencies, Funds and ProgrammesTimelines for key deliverablesORMS Policy: November 2013Implementation Standards: June 2014Self-assessment Tool: 2015We are going to achieve this in a slightly different way
  • Insights:Need for both straight project management and emergent strategy approachesResponsibility must be clear for key deliverables, and how the initiative will be governedEmergent strategy - put in place fundamentals that allow opportunities to be identified and exploited:Nurture an ever-expanding networkProvide a mechanism to give everyone affected a voice and the ability to share and capture knowledgePartnerships with academia, the private sector, civil society and government at all levelsNimble decision-making
  • Departments are at the pointy end of the arrowCorporate Services and Units to support your risk management (ie. ERM and BCMU)Internal and External Audit
  • Questions?
  • Business Continuity and Organizational Resilience at the United Nations

    1. 1. Business Continuity and Organizational Resilience at the UN 20 February 2014 @brianinroma #ACPUN
    2. 2. Deus Ex Machina
    3. 3. Super heroes can’t do complexity
    4. 4. Control Low High Predictability Source: Low
    5. 5. Emergency Management Tasks Sense Making Decision Making Meaning Making Terminating Learning
    6. 6. How do we sort this out? Sec DR CC CP BC MCIR SSS
    7. 7. Emergency Management in the UN continues to evolve
    8. 8. Hurricane Sandy was a watershed moment for Operational Risk
    9. 9. ORMS Phases and Processes
    10. 10. Change management made easy Low Emergent Behavior Strategy Change Structure Task Standard PM High Low
    11. 11. Three Lines of Defence Departments Corporate Support Internal & External Audit
    12. 12.