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All I Learned About Resilience I Learned from ABBA

| April 30, 2018

By Howard B. Price


NEW YORK — Adult contemporary radio programmers and music fans alike are celebrating today. But if you’re a business continuity professional, you, too, should be leaping out of your skin on word that after 35 years apart, ABBA has reunited to record two new songs.

BC? ABBA? Stay with me.

Agnetha Fältskog, Björn Ulvaeus, Benny Andersson, and Anni-Frid Lyngstad, whose first initials comprise the acronym that is the group’s name, not only defined pop rock in the late 70s and early 80s — their iconic “Dancing Queen” has been called the best song in the history of the genre — but generated commercial success that famously challenged Volvo as Sweden’s biggest export. They’re STILL a huge money-maker, even when they do nothing — raking in more than $3 million a year in royalties and other revenue.

And in the titles of the songs they’ve sung lies inspiration and guidance for every resilience practitioner who aspires to rock-star status in the craft.

  • “Waterloo”– Every threat, every disruption has the potential of becoming a “Waterloo” — a defining last-stand moment — for any business. And to avoid such catastrophe, an organization must be reading from the same music, and singing the same lyrics — in the right rhythm — to mitigate disaster and end with a flourish that makes it stronger. And the performance must be well-rehearsed — and rehearsed often.
  • “S.O.S.”– We’re reminded of the criticality of communications – both internal and external — especially in times of crisis. Do we have the right information, and are we using all the right channels, the right tone – and the right timing — to control our message, restore calm and confidence, and maintain transparency and authenticity?
  • “Knowing Me, Knowing You” – Successful navigation of any emergency requires tight collaboration — and organizational muscle memory that doesn’t require constant reference to a written plan. Resilience wonks know that “big red books” aren’t read BEFORE a disaster; no one has time to read them DURING a disaster; and AFTER a disaster, they are paperweights. This is why exercise, plan review and modification, and periodic validation are vital to the success of any response and recovery effort. PLANNING, the process, is actually more important than the PLAN itself.
  • “Mamma Mia” – It’s the natural human instinct to panic in the face of extremes. But the well-prepared organization can act with comfort and compassion “in loco parentis” — with a soothing, encouraging response that always puts people at the top of the priority list. Surprisingly, there are more than a few companies — large and small — that don’t have a well-developed casualty management and compassionate care programs in the gate for emergencies that could be particularly and profoundly impactful to their personnel.
  • “Money, Money, Money” – It’s long past time when companies should stop thinking about business continuity, emergency preparedness and crisis management as pure expense. Consider it an insurance policy, an investment in your ability to survive any disruption. Line managers worried about the budget impacts, the drain on staff time, the need for some administration need always to remember that if there is no business, there is no job. No benefits. No paycheck. Integrating BC best practices into routine operations creates a culture of everyday management excellence, and processes that consistently weed out inefficiencies, boost profits, increase productivity and team-building.
  • “Super Trouper” – The uninitiated may think this is a reference to a top performer…but in the theatrical world, a super trouper is a particularly bright spotlight that focuses audience attention on stage. Crises are the big, bright lights that can cause immense reputational damage. and organizational blindness to the challenges at hand. To avoid this, engage YOUR “super troopers” — the critical functions and teams essential to daily production and upstream/downstream obligations — and make sure that as part of the big, organizational BC plan, there are function-specific plans, built and rehearsed to be self-managing.
  • “The Winner Takes It All” & “Dancing Queen” – The rewards for the dedication of time and resources BEFORE disaster strikes are the victory and confidence — and maybe even increased market share, investor confidence and customer loyalty — that comes to any organization that survives catastrophe.

Good planning; testing, review and validation; all guided by the right amount of dispassionate external counsel could mean the difference between owning your business segment or market area — or never rising from the ashes and forever asking, as ABBA did, “Why Did It Have to Be Me?”

Howard B. Price, CBCP/MBCI is the former director of business continuity & crisis management for ABC’s News and Technology & Operations divisions, and has also served as senior manager, enterprise business continuity planning for The Walt Disney Company. A certified business continuity professional, and the founder of, he brings cost-effective resilience planning, innovation and thought leadership to the media industry. Reach him at HowardBPrice@gmail.comor 917-414-1751, and follow him on Twitter @mediadisaster


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Category: Advice