Floods in Arizona! Overnight deluge! A reported 3 inches of rain fell and the streets of Phoenix resembled lakes and rivers. But wait, I could have sworn there is a drought in Arizona. What are a few flooded streets, when torrential rains brought the drought to an end or did it? Apparently the drought marches on unabated. Most of the rain will end up in rivers and eventually flow into the sea. What is needed is good snowfalls in the mountain, which releases water in a sustained manner thus replenishing the ground water.
A few years back, I was busy setting up and managing a sales office in Phoenix. It rained hard and we had impassable streets and fallen trees and power lines. It caught me by surprise because, I assumed being a desert that gets only 9 inches of rain a year, hardly warranted even spending money on an umbrella. But I was wrong – and despite the soaking clothes, my attention was how to keep running the sales office. In the interest of full disclosure, I confess, my disaster planning habits were yet in the formative stage.
We had a plan in place for all our business information. It was being replicated in another city on a daily basis. Our sales people frequently travel and to accommodate this, we had equipped them to be able to work remotely. This serendipitous situation saved the sales day. Our salesmen could access the Customer database and make calls from their homes. It was not planned – just sheer luck.
I had a wake up call. The very next day, we drew a plan in case any emergency forced employees to stay home. Every employee was given the facility to work remotely and a process of informing sales people to work from home was put in place. The planning took only a couple of hours, and from a managerial point of view I could breath a sigh of relief. We were prepared for deluges!
The lessons I learned from this are – plan for the unexpected. While planning has to be tempered with realism (planning for a Tsunami in Phoenix is unwarranted) it is essential. We were lucky. I am sure several other businesses had planned for this type of emergency but alas, an equal number did not. The ones with plans are probably breathing a sigh of relief. Those that did not plan are probably castigating themselves for the lack of foresight.
Spend some time on planning whether you are doing it for a business or for the family. Do not be caught flatfooted.