Business, Interrupted: How Adaptive BC and BCOS Mature Resilience Management


When it comes to business continuity and overall resilience management, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach for every organization. That’s because each organization has a very unique set of circumstances and requirements that influence the approach to drive resilience.

While frameworks can help you more efficiently plan for disruption and identify the best response and recovery strategies, they’re also not a Cinderella slipper solution. Instead, most successful resilience management programs draw on a variety of leading practices to ensure business continuity, even in the most challenging times of simultaneous or unexpected disruptions.

That’s what we talked about recently with Mark Armour, co-author of the book, “Adaptive Business Continuity,” during our first episode of season two of Castellan’s podcast, “Business, Interrupted.”

In addition to being an author, Armour is the senior director of IT, Governance, Risk and Compliance at Brink’s Incorporated.

When Armour talks about business continuity, his Adaptive BC approach is unique when compared to traditional business continuity practices. Adaptive BC draws on other valuable disciplines such as Agile and Lean.

At Castellan, we have our own approach, the Business Continuity Operating System (BCOS). BCOS helps clients achieve the right level of resilience with a focus on how organizations run their programs—more like a business—and focuses on building capabilities and emphasizing executive and key stakeholder engagement.

BCOS has seven core attributes drawing on our experience working with the best resilience management programs and helps organizations identify where their programs may have gaps or weaknesses, which generally align to one of those core principles.

So, what are some of the most valuable components of both BCOS and Adaptive BC? Let’s take a closer look.

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Adaptive BC and BCOS Commonalities

First, one important component of Adaptive BC is that both practitioners and customers can use it to measure their resilience capabilities instead of getting bogged down focusing key performance indicators (KPIs) that measure the business continuity process and its outcomes such as plans and exercises. It involves working with a wide range of stakeholders and aligning them to think of business continuity in terms of what organizations can do to prevent disruption and return as quickly as possible to business-as-usual.

It’s about asking, “what’s our capability to actually respond, recover and return to normal?”

“That’s one of the things that we were hoping to promote or advance,” Armour said, “this concept that we’re focused on outcomes and business continuity. And well, how do we achieve our outcomes?”

That principle is based on existing capabilities, not just the actions we can take or the materials an organization has.

Another important part of Adaptive BC is a focus on learning the business and uniting business objectives with resilience management goals. That’s similar, if not identical to BCOS. It’s about learning the business not just in terms of single points of failure or what happens if something goes wrong, but gaining a true understanding of several key parts:

  • the industry the organization operates in (aka, context),
  • services and products delivered, and
  • the benefits to customers from delivering those products.

It’s about stepping back and looking at business objectives as well as products and services and then asking important questions such as:

  • If those services are impacted, how does that affect customers?
  • What are alternate ways or means to deliver those products and services if there is a channel disruption?
  • What does that look like if there is a lingering, on-going disruption, such as the pandemic, or when multiple disruptions occur simultaneously?

It’s not just about understanding what happens if there is a system or process failure but going deeper to get a good understanding of what that disruption can do to the business and the organization.

Both Adaptive BC and BCOS focus on an organization’s overall strategy, for example, its go-to-market strategy. It’s important because it helps provide context to resilience management goals.

Organizational Culture Also Plays an Important Role

“If we’re going to operate in the organization and we want to speak the language, I really have to understand the culture of the organization,” Armour pointed out, emphasizing how important it is to focus on organizational strategy and stay forward-looking.

“We’re no longer just doing a bunch of analysis and then kind of looking back on the data we collected,” he said. “Instead, we’re looking at, ‘what is the direction of the organization? Where is it headed? What are some new products and services?’ or ‘what are some new means that it’s going to operate in?’ because that’s going to help us position ourselves.”

This work that’s focused on preparedness helps organizations better prepare for changes or unanticipated disruptions.

Methodology also plays an important part in both Adaptative BC and BCOS. It’s about understanding there are several approaches that may be applicable, but by understanding context and applying a specific methodology, organizations may be able to better see what works well and what needs adjustments.

In terms of methodology, it’s not about sticking to a hard-and-fast rulebook. Instead, it’s about developing and implementing a process that best serves an organization, not the organization serving the process. That often requires a nimble and flexible approach, one that enables teams to course-correct based on situation and prioritization.

And finally, another important congruence between BCOS and Adaptive BC is that it’s no longer focused on creating “the plan”, but more about addressing questions such as:

  • How effective is the plan?
  • How comprehensive is the plan?
  • How can people within the organization access the plan?
  • Does the plan reflect the culture and capabilities of the organization?
  • Is there a clear understanding of ownership, roles and responsibilities, and empowerment so your team can make the best decisions based on risk and other factors?

These concepts should focus on addressing known or anticipated business risks as well as those that may be introduced through emerging threats. And while it’s always good to plan for how your organization will respond to known risks, both disciplines take a broader approach, creating strategies that apply to all forms of disruptions, known and unknown.

It’s also less about the step-by-step procedures to respond to a specific event type. It’s more about understanding potential impact, peripheral threats and potential consequences. Some organizations get so focused on those step-by-step plans, they paint themselves into a corner and lose the ability to adapt response strategies when something unpredicted occurs.

Want to take a deeper dive into how approaches such as adaptive business continuity and BCOS are improving organizational response and maturing resilience management strategies? Listen to the full episode, “Analyzing Approaches to Resilience with Mark Armour,” which is available on the Castellan website or wherever you listen to your favorite podcasts.

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