Priorities are everything

I get it, its really hard to set a formal structure in place to govern what you do in your business, day to day, week in week out. Monthly and annual tasks are easier as they occur less regularly.

How do you control your diary and make sure there is room for all those unforeseen events and urgent customer requests that throw a spanner in the works. It’s going to be different for everyone, but here’s what I do, feel free to play with it and see if it works for you.

The first thing is to block off time in your diary, guard it jealously and as far as possible stick to it!

Every weekday between 0900-1000 is reserved for clearing up my email inbox, a social media post (like this one) and a bit of social media engagement on my favourite channels. No more than three, it can be a bit of a rabbit hole!

Monday Morning at 1000 we have our one team meeting where we go through the regular tasks for the week, allocate responsibilities and agree actions and timescales. I trust me team, so nothing should get missed.

Between 1000 – 1100 every other work day, I concentrate on sales and marketing activity within the business and with my sales team.

I schedule time for scheduled system tasks at 1200 noon every workday and between 1230-1300 I schedule in some other regular tasks I need to complete.

This leaves some time between 1100-1200 for urgent tasks and the rest of the day after 1300 for client meetings and other routine activity.

Towards the end of the day I factor in time for weekly management meetings, where I touch base with co-directors and other managers in the business.

Most days it works well, some days it just doesn’t happen, but that’s OK. I always have a structure to revert to as soon as I can and I can always move things around if I have to.

What does your work week look like and how do you control your diary?

Have a great day


Weekly Organiser




I can be choosy

When I look for clients to work with, I look for 3 things:

  1. An opportunity to provide real value over the long term
  2. A partner who wants to engage meaningfully, to help me, help them
  3. A realistic attitude to what professional advice will cost

When you consider that all members of my staff are qualified by examination of the Chartered Insurance Institute and that CII examinations are still the highest standard accepted around the world, we would like to think our clients understand the advice they are given is founded on real knowledge, qualification and experience.

If you want to work with us, then please be open and realistic about what you want, what you expect and what you are willing to pay for that advice..

Today I am engaging with a new training partner who will enhance the “on the job” training that I and all of my colleagues receive, to keep our knowledge and skills up to date, whilst we also meet the continuing professional development requirements of the CII.

Have a great day


Get qualified professionally

Bread Shop

I’m not a salesman!

One thing that has annoyed me for over 40 years (don’t worry it’s not a rant) is the fact that some customers refuse to enter into a partnership with a professional, who only has their best interest at heart?

For lack of the correct information about their situation we are unable to produce they result they want, and then they are dismayed that we were not able to do what they wanted.

This includes full disclosure of all relevant information about their business, all the quality information relating to security, construction, health and safety, internal processes, financial controls, operational management, to name but a few.

What we are always looking to get is the correct technical solution, at the lowest price as that is the best way to GAIN or RETAIN a client. We then disclose our fee up front, so you can see that it is reasonable and we take no commission so we are not beholden to any one insurer, making us completely independent. Working for our clients and no one else.

So do you want to work with a professional or get sold something buy a salesman. It might be cheaper but its unlikely to protect you when you need it.

Today I’m working on multi-chain bakery, preparing for meeting with the MD, an extremely nice man for whom I have the greatest regard. He’s extremely good at what he does and cares passionately about is brand and the quality of the products he manufactures and sells.

Just the sort of clients I love to work with.

Have a great day

Bread Shop

Artisan Bread

Monday Mornings

Mondays are always busy!

Are yours structured or just a mess of reactive work?

We all have our flaws, whether its procrastination, timekeeping, organisation, scheduling or distraction, the available time we have is always under assault from a number of “inputs” and there are more of them now than there have ever been.

Email, social media, messaging apps, telephone, they are all there vying for our attention, so how about this?

  1. Restrict your inputs or schedule time for engagement
  2. When you get an input, wherever and wherever it arrives, deal with it in one of four ways:
    1. DO IT – If It takes less than 3 mins.
    2. DELEGATE – If its best done quicker by someone else.
    3. DEFER IT – To a time and place you can deal with it effectively, calendar!
    4. DELETE – If it doesn’t deserve your attention.

Finally, don’t go down rabbit holes, they are the time suckers you never see coming. Most of them fall into (c.) Make a decision about an input and stick with it.

Today I have a calendar full of meaningful work, including a provision for a Security company that needs a very specific piece of cover which only three insurers regularly provide at this level. Can you guess what it is?

Most are things I need to get done are for CLIENTS, COLLEAGUES or MYSELF!

Guard your calendar jealously, time is the one thing no one is making any more of. Schedule your work, move inputs into your calendar, and get them done.

Have a great productive Monday and then smash the week.

Monday Mornings

Organise and get stuff done

Will it all work?

Now to make sure it all works, and we have enhanced operational resilience across the organisation.

The final stage in any good continuity plan is VALIDATION. We need to know that the programme will remain effective, because things change in any organisation and continued validation will ensure overall resilience is maintained.

Validation is achieved by Exercising, Maintenance and Review.

First we must develop an exercise process to meet the needs of the organisation. Exercises can come in a number of forms.

  1. Discussion based
  2. Scenario exercises
  3. Simulations
  4. Live situational
  5. Tests

Each type has its own characteristics and will fit a particular need but should always involve as much realism as possible. They should manage the risk of disruption to the business, and maximise costs and benefits.

Thorough planning and support is required. There should be a clear method to STOP the exercise if necessary and thorough debriefing is always required, followed by a detailed report.

These plans must be maintained over time, and reviewed regularly. Self-assessment, quality assurance, performance appraisals and supplier performance should be measured, and this should always be followed by a thorough management review, to #preserveprofitability

Do what you say you will do!

Once we have completed the first four stages of the continuity process:

  1. Policy & Programme Management
  2. Embedding continuity throughout the organisation
  3. Analysis of Business Impacts
  4. Designed solutions

We move on to the IMPLEMENTATION phase, which is where we actually bring continuity to life within the business, driving real change at all levels, so that continuity becomes “Business as Usual”.

To do this we have to:

  • Identify the responsible individuals
  • Develop a draft response structure for top management consideration
  • Document and publish the approved structure
  • Implement the structure within any current continuity plans
  • Rehearse the structure as part of the continuity plan

Response structures will depend on the size and complexity of the organisation and the number of locations. Response structures need to be developed at several levels within the organisations, these are:

  • Strategic – Top Management / Board Level
  • Tactical – Mid Level management at organisation or division level
  • Operational – Detailed operation plans, departments and locations

Responsibilities need to be agreed along with authorities, matching competencies, then implementing and rehearsing team capabilities. There also need s to be a maintenance schedule to update plans as required.

Have a great day

A solution designed for the specific business.

Once we have management buy in to business continuity objectives, have embedded the concept with staff and managers and have identified the key vulnerabilities, we go on to DESIGN THE SOLUTION specific to the business.

The solution will of course depend on the nature of the organisation and the products and or services that it seeks to deliver. The solution designed for a manufacturing company, will differ dramatically from that of a home nation-based charity.

We will look at risk and threat assessments before we decide on the appropriate business continuity solutions. We will consider interdependencies within the business, especially where solutions may rely on suppliers and their supply chains.

We may look at existing arrangements and adjust them according to the “Minimum Business Continuity Objective”. Cost effectiveness will always be a consideration. Top management will of course need to sign off the appropriate solutions.

Solutions should be consolidated by resource type to ensure they are consistent across the organisation and do not conflict with other objectives.

Finally, we will establish the projects required to implement the solutions, so the organisation can #justkeepgoing.

The devil is always in the detail.

And now the real work starts, we get down to the nitty gritty.

We’ve got management buy in and explained to the whole organisation why business continuity is important and now we have to deep dive into the organisation and look at the events which could interrupt it activities and the income stream. IMPACT ANALYSIS.

In stage 3 we start off with and Analysis of key vulnerabilities. Some are easy to spot, like major physical damage and are taken care of by insurance, such as fire or flood. In almost all cases things we hadn’t considered, turn out to be the ones that need the most planning.

Here are just a few:

  • Death, incapacity of key personnel
  • Important team leaves to start a business
  • Loss of a major supplier or customer
  • Increased competition
  • Failure of critical machinery
  • Long lead times on key equipment
  • Political environment
  • New and more restrictive regulations
  • Major protests and civil disorder

The list is almost endless, but most important are the ones that will significantly interrupt the income stream of the business.

We grade each on for frequency and severity as well as potential impact in a detailed assessment and then rank them so we can start planning for these events, to make sure you can #justkeepgoing

Have a great day

How long will that take?

I really need to get this done quickly.

Once I have buy in from the top management in an organisation, I need to “embed” business continuity within it. To do this you almost need to talk to every member of staff, and at the very least all the middle management and operational managers.

They need to know that this is a core discipline within the business. Part of this process is reassuring them, that they will get adequate resource and support from their chain of command.

It is the operational and middle management that will have to implement the plans and activate response structures when things go wrong, whilst top management deal with communications, the press and reputational issues.

There are lots of ways to do this – seminars, training sessions, awareness campaigns, right down to toolbox talks on the shop floor.

So, to answer the first question, how long will it take?

This depends on the nature of the organisation, the number of staff and locations over which they operate, and it can be anything from 6 months, to 3 years.

Business Continuity is ongoing process which will lead to enhanced operational resilience at all levels and embedding that is absolutely critical.

Board of Directors

Are you up for this?

Occasionally when I meet a client to discuss continuity planning, I am met with a board who have another agenda, but it becomes clear quickly. I either get enthusiastic buy in from the board or just one director has been delegated to deal with it and the remainder can’t get out of the room quick enough.

In these cases, the organisation is often “ticking a box” for a regulator or a customer. They want a continuity plan, because they need to show it to someone else, but they aren’t really interested in its impact within the business and certainly don’t want to waste time, personnel or resources on it.

I will always try to get the organisation to understand why resilience is so important and what my part is in achieving a solid result, so that continuity becomes business as usual within that organisation.

If I can’t, then I will respectfully decline the opportunity, as I will end up doing a bad job, purely because the client doesn’t want to #justkeepgoing and that’s not good for my reputation.

The first step is always POLICY & PROGRAMME MANAGEMENT, and without enthusiastic buy in from the board, including a desire to achieve enhanced resilience and allocate appropriate resources to the task, the opportunity is lost on day one!

Have a great day

Board of Directors

Board Meeting