I spent nearly a decade as a Director of Scotland’s leading Business Continuity Consultancy. We were working with clients from BAE, to Shell, to numerous Local Authorities, to small firms who made garden sheds, to Water Utilities, to the NHS – trusts and central, to Housing Associations, businesses across the UK and Europe. 2005 onwards was a great period to be doing this work as the Civil Contingencies Act had recently been enacted. I’m writing this as I can see *no way* at all that businesses and organisations in the UK can possibly prepare for a No-Deal Brexit. It’s just too big, too nebulous, and most importantly too permanent. Guiding an organisation to plan for disruption *always* assumes that the disruption is temporary. It may last days or even weeks but it is not a permanent change, unlike that being proposed by the UK Government under the guise of “No-Deal”. If “No-Deal” happens it is an immediate and complete structural change to 40+ years of working. Almost ever aspect of the way a business operates will require to be changed, quite literally overnight. All this is to be done while there is no knowledge whatsoever about the macro environment the business/organisation operates in. We ran many, many, scenario planning exercises for our clients. We had sectors of their workforce incapacitated by Avian Flu, we had extended power cuts, we had armed terrorist activity and we helped clients plan how to manage all of these disruptions.
Here’s a few of the high level questions which are needed to plan for any “No Deal” scenario. Will ‘planes be able to fly? Will imports and exports be slowed down? What medicines will be available? If trucks/haulage is snarled up (as seems probable) how many extra trucks/vehicles are there to move goods (food?) around the UK? Are there sufficient drivers? How will fuel supplies be affected? How long will this last? (clue: It’s a sudden, violent and total structural change to the UK economy, so for planning purposes it’s not a disruption, it’s permanent). How long will a stockpile last? What’s the security risk for my business/organisation if we’re holding/stockpiling some commodity which suddenly becomes highly valuable (food, medicine). Will power (National Grid) still operate fully? What risk is posed to nuclear generation? What’s the plan for a run on a bank if the £ Sterling collapses? Everything in this paragraph is high level, go down any of the branches in it and there’s a myriad of sub-branches which each need careful consideration and planning.
The only precedent type of cross-sector all encompassing event which might be even vaguely comparable in term of the effort and planning which was put in to mitigating it is the Y2K software events. Y2K however had millions of man-hours of activity spent across the globe, years in advance, to mitigate it. “No Deal” has few global support mechanisms.
I’m glad I’ve retired because despite having worked with the main boards of directors of many businesses and organisation I just haven’t got a clue how *anyone* could establish a decent operating plan for “No Deal”. It’s just not possible.
“No-Deal” is ideological insanity. I’ll happily talk this through with any Politician who believes it is possible for a business/organisation to a) Prepare for it and b) Survive it.