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04/06/2010 Preparing for the Last Disaster

Over the last 6 or 7 years, we've destroyed two great digital cameras while we were on vacation. The first was a missed hand off between my wife and I at the San Diego Zoo, causing our beloved Nikon to smash on the ground, rendering it useless (who missed the baton is still a matter of contention!). Then, last month, some great "playing in the surf" pictures played it a little too close. One Caribbean wave later, and our trusted Casio became unusable for the rest of the trip (and this happened on day 1, no less).

Two cameras down, I did what any logical consumer would do: I bought a waterproof, shockproof camera. My family would no longer tremble at dropping cameras or quake at the sight of water. We had actually bought a disposable camera on our last vacation to take pictures underwater, but now we can use our digital camera instead! Visions of yearly snorkeling vacations danced in our head.

Until the smartest person in the family, my 7-year-old son, asked, "Dad, is the camera lightening proof?"

I realized that I was acting like most companies do; preparing for last year's disaster, trying to immunize myself from things I knew could go wrong. My son, instead, was imagining things we'd never encountered before. He was preparing for the next thing, not the last thing.

It's a good challenge for a company. I don't know of many who are trying to imagine future disasters. I remember I once recommended that in a company I worked in, and everyone labeled me "negative."

Social media, though, has brought a new urgency to crisis communication. Just look at what happened to NestlÇ, Southwest, United, etc., etc., ad nauseum (which is Latin for "it makes you sick"). Contingency planning, and imagining all of the negative possibilities, has huge economic upsides for companies. If you're prepared for one of these catastrophes, you'll come out of it quicker, looking better and saving your company money.

While it's good to cover yourself with different types of insurance for what you know, take some time thinking about what you don't know.

In the mean time, does anyone know of a lightening proof digital camera?



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