Contingency planning

As the recession deepens, perhaps we need to lighten up some and make sure we don't over-spend on risk mitigation.

The Introduction to Real ITSM says

Some cultures take a risk-averse approach, planning for all contingencies and minimising risks. Other cultures are more laissez faire, preferring to economise on mitigation and take the hit on occasional consequences. In the analogy of the grasshopper and the ant, most grasshoppers end up getting fed, whether they have to beg borrow or steal it (e.g. by becoming Seasonal Provisioning Consultants). The required frantic burst of energy can be seen as more economical than the long grind of the ant.

Real ITSM understands that circumstances differ and a grasshopper strategy may not work in say astronautics, or explosives manufacturing. On the other hand, technical people are often perfectionists who have trouble understanding “good enough” (they suffer from ETF*) and become overly wedded to the ant strategy.

ITSM is heavily influenced by that Northern European "be prepared" mindset that has us all running about like ants.
*ETF=Excessive Technical Fastidiousness

OK it is tongue-in-cheek but are there areas of ITSM where - in these constrained times - we could be more grasshopper-like?


Recession or not, don't overspend on Risk Mitigation

Spending on Risk Mitigation should of course be based on Risk Assessment/Analysis with your business. Their 'appetite for risk' might move to higher as result of financial hardship. That is understandable and acceptable if it is concious decision and not 'just jumping and hoping that you land in some good spot' like a grasshopper.

Granted, we here in very Nothern Europe have a tendency of 'being prepared'. For many reasons (historical experience, climate, etc) it has maybe grown out of proportion sometimes. But I have heard it said several times by persons from previous generation: "...if only we had been better prepared, and not behaved like carefree grasshoppers". These people typically then refer to events in late 1939 when Finland was attacked. This and other similar lessons create a mindset that is carried over generations.

I regard it as a good thing to be prepared. But not at any cost. And the preparations you do should be reviewed whenever the environment changes.

But how often in IT you here (allways, everywhere) people say like: "oops, we didn't realise that this might happend and the result is like this..." Analyzing and getting the understanding is typically not very expensive. Mitigation can be.

But still, grasshopping...not comfortable with that. But than again, I have this legacy in my genes.

Finland, pretty north in Europe
Information Systems Architect, CGEIT/ITIL Expert


I'm convinced it is cultural/genetic/historical. In the North, if you don't have a cave/hut full of food and animals come Winter, you dead. And if you can't grow enough in Summer, you go pillage someone who can. Only those with planning or thumping in their genes+culture survive.

In the tropical regions, you can always catch/gather something tomorrow, year round.

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