The Things We Don’t Think About

The Things We Don’t Think About

May 3

A few years ago, my wife and I got an email from a friend who’d recently survived Hurricane Katrina. You can imagine his gratitude that he and his family were still alive (or maybe you lived through it or something like it and know first hand), but the purpose of the email was more practical. When they’d had time to collect their breath, my friend and his wife sat down and made a list of all the things they wished they’d had to weather not only the disaster itself, but also the aftermath. These were people who’d taken the time beforehand to prepare for a disaster, so they had the obvious things: food, matches, etc. Instead, the list was full of things that seemed obvious in hindsight, like headlamps to provide hands-free light, but that nobody had thought of before. As you can imagine, we found it incredibly thoughtful and helpful.

I just got finished working on our most recent case study, which spotlights the efforts of John Motazedi and his MSP, SNC Squared during and after the Joplin, Missouri tornado in 2011. John’s story is pretty amazing (you can find more at the SNC Squared website and you can expect more about it from us in the coming days), but what struck me the most was his willingness to help others, not only during the disaster, but after as well. He and his company came away from that tornado with a whole new appreciation for disaster recovery plans and what needs to go into it and he’s not afraid to share what he’s learned.

Beyond the nuts and bolts of the recovery, disasters provide us with two complementary opportunities that are demonstrated by John and SNC Squared:

1. Learn from the experiences of others

After slapping ourselves on the head, my wife and I went out immediately after we received that email and bought the things that made sense for us, including a couple of headlamps. And let me say, those headlamps have come in handy, even without a disaster.

There are always going to be things we don’t think about. Even the most well-thought-out, detailed disaster recovery plan is going to have a few blind spots in it. That’s just the nature of living in a world of limited perception. We can all benefit from the experiences of others, and when it comes to disasters, those experiences may mean the difference between life and death.

2. Offer your experiences to others

After a disaster, there’s obviously a lot to do, but as the dust settles, it’s probably not a bad idea to do what my friend and John Motazedi did and take the time to analyze your experience and share it with others. For one thing, it will probably help you prepare more comprehensively for the next disaster, but at the same time, it will give you the chance to contribute to the IT community at large and the well-being of your fellow humans (which I think is never a bad thing).

Right now I’m working on a project that examines those things we didn’t think about, so I’m hip deep in it, but what’s your experience been? Regardless of the disaster, what things did you wish you’d thought of before a disaster and how did the disaster change your plan going forward?