Eidtorial Viewpoint: Lessons from Eeyore

In Wilkie Collins’ “The Moonstone” — one of the earliest and still one of the world’s best detective stories — the butler, Gabriel Betteridge, likes to randomly consult passages in his well-thumbed copy of Gulliver’s Travels whenever he’s in need of some words of wisdom to guide him along life’s path. As for me, I prefer Winnie-the-Pooh. Yes, that “bear of little brain” and his simplehearted companions are a font of wisdom for those who will take the time to read between the lines.

Take, for example, this offhanded remark from Eeyore, that perpetually gloomy donkey, “They’re funny things, Accidents. You never have them till you’re having them.”

What more simple yet appropriate comment could there be about the randomness of untoward events?

Untoward events, and how we prepare (or don’t prepare) for them, are very much the focus of this issue. Ron Glen’s article “It could happen to you” looks at the business continuity (BC) and disaster recovery (DR) plans of several Canadian companies, including a couple that were directly impacted by Hurricane Katrina.

With business’s ever increasing dependence on technology these days, and with all of the disasters, both natural and manmade, that threaten us, it would be easy to assume that we’ve all been scared into action — maybe even into overreaction — when it comes to DR planning. That assumption would be incorrect.

In a recent DR survey from Toronto-based data-backup firm Asigra, 63 percent of respondents said they encountered unreadable tapes when they tried to retrieve data, with 76% of those cases resulting in a direct impact to their business. A 2003 survey by Disaster Recovery Journal, St. Louis, found that 69.35% did not have a contract with a DR firm built into their business continuity plans, and 59.48% spent less than 1% of their IT budget on DR planning.

The latter stat is a critical one. As longtime BC expert Dora Riano Price stated in an open letter to CEOs, “I have met with technology managers that are afraid to inform their superiors, who in turn are afraid to inform the board of directors, that their existing recovery plans are barely adequate. They fear that they will be asked to do the impossible without any additional budget or resources.”

If this has an uncomfortably familiar ring to it, you may want to start practicing that time-honoured art of biting the bullet. Otherwise, when your company does have one of those “Accidents”, you may hear your boss addressing you with another quote from Eeyore, “People who don’t think probably don’t have brains; rather, they have grey fluff that’s blown into their heads by mistake.”