Category Archives: Planning & Decision Making

Basically a how to plan a fort, fortress or castle along with the decision making process to complete the plan.

Building Urgency for a 3CFortress Plan

Introduction – Bear with me as a I try to build on the urgency for communities and corporations to start a 3CFortress program. Why? Because your very survival depends on it. Simple as that.

I am doing this with a different approach. What you will see is a one-sentence (statement or question) lead in with a short response. I am fascinated with those small books you see in bookstores. This different approach is an attempt to write this post in that style.

Main Essay – Do you have a plan to survive a crisis or disaster? Yes or no?

Yes. Great! When is the last time you updated it? Hmmm…better look into the 3CFortress concept before you do.

No. Rut row! Better get that plan started or your chances of survival are greatly reduced.

What happens to those that do not plan?

Companies go out of business. One out of three on average. Communities put their residence through hell or force them to move on.


Why would any company or community want to put their residents through a Katrina like disaster? Oh, a disaster like that would never hit “here”!

Never is a powerful word. Another powerful word is “Risk”.

Have you looked at the RISKS to your community or corporation? Yes or No?

Yes. Move on to the section on updating your PLAN. No. Rut row, again, as this is something you need to look into ASAP.

Risk Management is a tough subject that I will leave for a larger book. Safe to say that you need to look at everything that could impact your “C” (Company or Community).

Looking at the risks, what impact they can have and the probability of them will end up pushing you to start planning.

Remember the 5 P’s. Prior Planning Prevents Poor Performance.

Poor performance = Little chance of Survival.

You do want to Survive don’t you? Keep reading.

3CFortress will make you think about all this in a different way. A different approach. A simpler approach.

Hope your sitting down…here comes a big word. Continuity.

Several definitions do not help make this word easier to understand. It is used in several ways unrelated to crisis or disaster planning.

Using a thesaurus shows another word “stability”. Stability is easy to understand.

A Stability Plan = Great Chance of Survival.

What could cause a plan to fail?

Plans fail for three main reasons. 1) No testing or practice, 2) Too much focus on Rescue/Recovery and 3) Missed the Big Picture.

1) If you don’t test, rehearse or practice you plan then crisis events can put you in a very bad situation. So bad that you can’t recover.

2) Rescue and Recovery is needed in every plan but too much focus has negative consequences. 3CFortress offers a way to minimize the need for these stages.

3) Missing the Big Picture means that you assume that certain parts of your system will always be operational. Assuming that essential needs will met can prove to be a costly mistake. A 3CFortress takes into consideration “sustainability”.

Sustainability, yes another big word, and self-supporting are key concepts in a 3CFortress system.

How does the “Living Triangle” fit into the 3CFortress Big Picture?

A “Living Triangle” is similar to the “working triangle” used in the kitchen. The triangle points are Home-Work-Play.

Home is where you live whether it is a house, apartment or condominium. Work is your place of employment. Play means several things such as: Parks, retail stores, restaurants, etc.

How many of you have to drive to your “Living Triangle” points? Most likely 95% plus of you have to have a vehicle. Vehicle traffic is a real problem during any crisis or disaster.

Getting the number of people able to walk their “Living Triangle” is another key 3CFortress concept. Walking to your “points” increases everyone’s survival during a crisis or disaster.

Side note: Think about how many spaces the residential garage now requires. Dad having a vehicle became dad and mom. Then the kids over 16 need their own car. And we wonder why traffic is an every growing issue?

One solution to walkability issues is public transportation. True, it is not what most people consider an alternative to driving themselves to where they need to go. Public transportation needs to be readily available, safe, clean to the point that everyone feels comfortable while riding.

Another way to look at the Big Picture is AdIOS. Adapt Improvise Overcome Survive.

Adapt deals with changing to fit your local conditions. A plan a desert area will not be the same as a plan near a farming community. How do you need to change to adapt to your environment?

Improvise is what you do when your plan starts to go bad. What if your plan dealt with three days but the crisis goes on into 30 days? After any plan test or rehearsal you update the plan accordingly. Improvise can be contingency plans where you think about, “What if?” You should never be in a reactionary response mode.

Overcome or another word is prevail. Your plan got you through the crisis or disaster. Congratulations! No plan or flawed plans have little chance to overcome the challenges in a crisis.

Survival means your plan got you through an adverse condition, i.e. a crisis or disaster. Survival means you stay in business. You beat the odds by having a solid plan.

Are you starting to see the benefits of a plan…a 3CFortress plan?

If you think that a 3CFortress plan or concept is just renaming a conventional plan then dig deeper. From the very beginning of planning 3CF enables you to take a different approach.

The 3CFortress concept will improve your chances of stability in day-to-day operations and survivability for any crisis or disaster. 3CF does this in a way no other company provides.

I hope that this “one sentence” approach gets you, your family, your community or your company wanting to take a closer look at the 3CFortress concept.


Check It Out – Primarily for my own benefit the Main Essay section has an FK/FRE score of 8.4. I am very happy with this as most continuity articles come out with a score around 12. Average words per sentence: 10.1. All this makes the reading easier to understand.

Quick Tip – See what the Small Business Administration has to say about preparedness.

Look Who’s Talking – Your plan needs to have an appendix or annex to deal with stress and fatigue. Both of these can apply to daily activities or work-related in a crisis or disaster. Read more on the web site and look for brochure TF-008 / October 2009 titled “Work-Related Fatigue”.

What Do You Think? – I always ask this. At some point I will have people opt in. At some point I will put out a once a week newsletter. Stay tuned!

4 Phases of Continuity Operations

Introduction – Time to get back to the basics for a minute and talk about the four phases of continuity operations. Continuity means keeping the community or corporation/business going through a crisis or disaster.

The four phases are “Readiness & Preparedness”, “Activation & Relocation”, “Continuity Operations”, and “Reconstitution”. The reference for this is the website but I have to mention that I don’t rely/agree 100% with everything put out by I do agree that we don’t need to reinvent the wheel so I will use these four phases and specifically point out where I venture into my own 3CFortress ideas.

The Four Phases of Continuity Operations

Readiness & Preparedness

I doubt anyone can argue that being prepared is the first step or phase for any continuity planning. Isn’t that what the Boy Scouts have been saying for years, “Be prepared”? Before you can use my main acronym, AdIOS – Adapt Improvise Overcome Survival, you have to prepare…take steps to start building a plan.

It goes without saying that if you are going to prepare then the crisis hasn’t started yet. If it has then time to prepare has run out. You are now in the reactionary mode. It is always better to prepare and be ready.

In this phase you start to develop the plan or review/revise if one is already started. If you do have a plan in place then now is the time to figure out how to train, test and evaluate that plan.

Another first step in the development of a plan is Risk Management. That deserves a whole chapter so I will only hit the highlights for now. You have to know what you are up against. What are the threats and hazards (natural and man-made) that the community or corporation have to deal with, what impact and probability of their occurrence and how will you deal with them? This is a major step that you can’t rush through.

Activation & Relocation

After you have a plan approved then a key step is activating that plan. Here is where you communication plan becomes a make or break step. Did you test your communications plan? Do you have a team in place that was monitoring the situation? Does everyone understand how to receive the activation and what to do? People going in the wrong direction or not knowing what to do are not what you want at this point.

On the point of relocation I advise any corporation or business to develop your plan so this is not needed. The standard is to relocate within twelve hours to a different facility for a period of thirty days. It is easy to think how communicating and getting people to move is not easily accomplished no matter how many times you have rehearsed it.

My point is to plan for your main facility to become a 3CFortress that is self-sustaining at least for thirty days. If you compare how complex relocating is to planning a shelter in place facility is going to be much better in the long run especially if the crisis or disaster goes beyond thirty days. We’ve seen plenty of disasters go well beyond thirty days before normal operations returned.

Turning your community or corporate facility into a 3CFortress means you are not only planning for key employees but their families as well. In order for essential functions to be performed you have to provide for the entire daily needs that they require. This is another point that most plans don’t consider. As Super Storm Sandy showed us, many of these basic services were interrupted for longer than thirty days. Not only did this create a crisis on a personal level it forced many businesses to close forever.

When the crisis is developing it is a good idea to use a Decision Matrix. The site mentions a good one to use and the military uses a more detailed process for this and much more when developing a plan. It is called the Military Decision Making Process.

Along with identifying the threats and hazards is thinking about what the “triggers” are for these events. It is rare that an event goes from no notice to a full-blown event. Identifying the triggers provides a decision point to up the awareness, alert teams and prepare for the next step or phase.

Alert and Notification

Back to the communications plan for alert and notifications… about the changing situation. Any change in the situation may involve staging of additional supplies and preparing for movement of supplies and personnel. Do employees/citizens need to prepare their drive-away kits now?

Continuity Operations

This is the main event for continuity. It means you have twelve hours to move to another facility or if there is no movement then to remain up and running in the primary facility for the next thirty days or as needed. Up and running means all the essential functions identified in the continuity plan are still operational. The key leaders and employees are performing their tasks without having to worry about their loved ones. In the 3CFortress model this can mean moving families to the main facility hotel, which is now operating in the long-term stay mode. Any vacant housing within safe walking distance (think “living triangle” or Work-Play-Live) of the main facility can be used as overflow housing.

Accountability, strict accountability, is needed at this point to keep personnel, supplies, everything from getting out of line. No plan goes exactly as planned but keeping a close tab on operations will prevent a lot of headaches. Is anyone not working out of the main facility (telework)? They need to be accounted for and taken care of. How are you support partners holding up? If there is a problem in your supply-chain then you better know about it as far in advance as possible.


Once the crisis or disaster has passed then the decision is made to return to normal operations. While this should happen as quickly as possible it should not be done in haste. Reconstitution should have its own phases and have leadership involvement.

If this is a community going through a recovery phase it can mean meeting with FEMA and State emergency management personnel that will advise you on what awards are possible for any damages suffered during the disaster.

As you get deeper into your continuity plan, all these phases will be integrated into the big picture and become clearer.

Check It Out – Since I have mentioned the website, I can recommend you go there for more information on the four phases of continuity operations and more details in other related areas.

Quick Tip – When you are looking at your supply-chain it pays to look at how much debt they carry. Many of the energy industries are heavy into debt banking on future operations to relieve this burden. It is a good idea to have redundant or backup plans to suppliers involved in your plan.

Look Who’s Talking – Responded to one survival web site that had people still claiming that bunkers are a viable option for individuals and families. Not so in my opinion. Think about the phases we just talked about and if they could be fit into using a bunker scenario within twelve hours of activation and for thirty days in duration? Gaps, problems with the bunker scenario start popping up quickly and can’t be resolved.

What Do You Think? – Getting a plan started in your community or business depends on you. It depends on you getting it started and getting leaders involved. Leaders have the ability to designate key personnel to work on the continuity plan and make sure it has enough financial backing. Like all long journeys, this one starts with one step…in the right direction.

Drought Update and the Future Outlook

Introduction – The U.S. Drought is something I’ve been tracking for a few years. The direct impact of droughts naturally ties in with water shortage/depletion issues creating another risk or compounding the impact of the drought. After the Midwest received some drought relief, the focus was on the West Coast. California and parts of Nevada and Oregon are still in a severe drought. But they are not alone and the future doesn’t bode well for several other areas. Drought should be on most risk lists but needs to be looked at for your strategic (long-term) plan.

Main Essay – A quick update, as of February 2015, is that the at least eight states have drought conditions listed as “Exceptional” ( About another fifteen states are in the “Moderate” ranges with many recently changing for the worse. Anyone doing a risk analysis for their community or corporation needs to look at the probability and impact of any moderate to severe drought. At the same time, how are you going to mitigate the impact of the drought?

How are you going to use the water in an aquifer/well? Do you have any water capture methods? Is water storage a problem/challenge? How do you handle storm water run off? How does wastewater figure into this issue/solution?

Might as well mention it now. Any drought solution needs to be legal for your area. Some places don’t allow the capture of rainwater in rain barrels. If that is the case then look at the legality of a pond or tank. Do your research on possible solutions and be creative. Can water be like solar in that can the “extra” be sold back to the water company/association? Can the amount of captured water be limited and the rest released naturally into a designated runoff area or approved stream?

Perhaps the biggest challenge with any drought is any individual or community garden. In an extreme case, how are you going to water your garden if the water is turned off to your house/building? What you are going to do needs to be part of the plan or the impacts will be greater. No water can easily mean the failure of your crops. Keep in mind that a loss of power presents water issues, as it needs to be pumped to your site.

An option in any plan is relocation. I talked about this in my last post. Another article in the Washington Post wonkblog (4 maps that show how demographic change will touch every corner of the country; January 20th, 2015) shows the population of “The Rust Belt and Great Plains” is on the move and in most cases to bigger cities. It is possible that many of these moves will be to places facing several future challenges and risks. One of the cities mentioned for growth was Las Vegas, Nevada. That city is one of the “Exceptional Drought” areas. If you feel like they have a drought and water plan for the future then by all means move there. On the other hand, if they don’t have a plan, then don’t consider a move to Las Vegas no matter what the short-term benefits might be.

The long range forecast for this drought doesn’t show any sign of improvement and actually makes it out to get worse and cover a larger area. In a BBC article (US ‘at risk of mega-drought future’ by Johathan Amos, February 12, 2015) he warns the American southwest and central plains could be in for a “super-drought the like of which they have not witnessed in over 1,000 years”. When doing risk analysis you should be looking at the 100 and 500-year cycles for floods and other natural disasters. As this one claims, a 1,000-year cycle is a clear indicator on future risks for these areas. It makes plans, to be self-reliant, all that much tougher.

Keep in mind that this will not be a graduated scale over hundreds of years. Mega-droughts have occurred in the past over twenty to fifty year cycles. The US “Dust Bowl” in the 1930’s was a twenty-year event that devastated large portions of the agricultural land and set up a population migration to California.

The current drought in the US would have to go on for several more years to make it a mega-drought cycle. Of course, that information doesn’t help the outlook for the short-term. It is not unexpected for discussions like this to head into Global Warming and Climate Change reasoning. For risk analysis you don’t need to know, per say, what is causing the drought. The BBC article noted about reduced precipitation and increased evaporation (due to higher temperatures) causing these drought conditions. Climate Change can affect what you put down for the probability. If you are currently in a drought zone or in a forecasted zone (SW and Central Plains) then this has to be part of your risk analysis and continuity planning. One course of action should be to relocate out of this drought area.

When you start to look at impacts from droughts the list can be quite long. One crop noted in a related BBC article by David Willis was about almond trees in California. They need a trillion gallons of water per year. Wow! More water than needed for cotton or tomatoes. Hard or impossible to pull that out of the ground or get it from irrigation. We get a lot of crops from California especially during the out of season months in other areas of the US. For those living outside the drought area it means planning on higher prices if you can get the crop delivered at all.

One of the primary acronyms that I use with 3CFortress planning is AdIOS. Adapt-Improvise-Overcome-Survive. For the drought risks the question is how to adapt? Can you adapt to your current environment? How can you improvise to make up for or replace the water loss in a short or long-term drought? What is your plan to overcome these risks and obstacles? If you don’t include this in your continuity planning then it will be “good-bye”. Your community will decline and your business shut their doors. In other words, you don’t survive the crisis.

Check It Out – With “self-reliance” as one of the key concepts for any 3CFortress, fresh and wastewater dynamics become very important. An article on (January 22, 2015) discussed using algae to turn wastewater into a resource. Microorganisms grade the organic materials in the water, then are separated out. To me, this is one of those, how can someone dream this up? Amazingly, the process is said to have been around for 100 years. One company is working to make this a profitable process for them and the community. Currently, this effort is going on in Tel Aviv, Israel but they are looking at possible sites in the USA.

Quick Tip – 100-200 words; advice in 60 seconds; long tips go in a full EET category. 12 Natural Remedies For Eczema, Rashes and a Range of Persistent Skin Conditions. Found this on as the word “sustainable” jumped out at me. If you have persistent issues with your skin then this is worth a read. If not, it still shows you how to get some relief for your skin which we can all use from time to time. One of the twelve that is readily available is “coconut oil”. Make sure it is natural, not refined, bleached, or deodorized. Doesn’t require much touching or rubbing.

Look Who’s Talking –, on the “About” tab, talks about growing produce for the house or local community. They produce garden vegetables, herbs and teas for the farm and local community on their five acre plot. They “try every day to make good decisions about our lifestyle to promote our health and wellbeing”. Any 3CFortress should keep this in mind when thinking about farm to market. The mother is seventy years old which tells me she has made a lot of great decisions in her lifetime.

What Do You Think? – Always looking for good feedback and questions. Send it now while you are thinking about it.


Does The Tipping Point = Decision Point?

Introduction. If you are analyzing and assessing where your company or community is at on continuity then at some point you reach a tipping point. A point where you can no longer control the direction that events are headed. Turning to we see that “Tipping Point” the point in a situation at which a minor development precipitates a crisis: Every infected person brings us closer to the tipping point, when the outbreak becomes an epidemic.

You can only hope to realize this point when it “precipitates” or before a crisis. Realizing it well into the crisis is not good as your courses of action may no longer be possible. Realizing there is an epidemic, after it has reached the tipping point, means the epidemic is spreading faster than you can manufacture and distribute the vaccine to stop the epidemic from spreading (pandemic). Tipping point started out in medical terms but obviously has a broader application.

Another part of the tipping point definition is the point at which an issue, idea, product, etc., crosses a certain threshold and gains significant momentum, triggered by some minor factor or change. I hope that the 3CFortress idea hits its own tipping point.

You can find “Tipping Point” used in several ways and by several people. Most recently Malcolm Gladwell wrote a very good book about it sub titled “How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference”. I have my own copy along with others from Gladwell. Referred to so much that if you look this up on Wikipedia the whole entry is about his book. For him, it started while covering the AIDS epidemic but he saw it could be applied to social policy (nonmedical areas). Social being how ideas spread via word of mouth after reaching a tipping point. One of the points that Gladwell wants readers to take away from the book is, “Our intuitions, as humans, aren’t always very good”.

Some other examples using tipping points is health (when everyday health and diet decisions catch up to you), brewing beer, The End of Oil (, technology (FastCompany), Time magazine (Transgender), a movie (rated on rottentomatoes), Global Climate Change, nuclear waste, renewable energy, poverty (in the San Francisco Bay area) and finally twelve tipping points on one web site (

Tipping point is used many times for business applications. Any business idea that makes it way to a tipping point can only see that idea spreading like wild fire…in a profiting way of speaking. Another more cautious way to look at reaching a tipping point is looking at it like a wave. But we all know what happens to waves. They crash into the beach at some point. Many great businesses have not been what you would call a long-term success. Getting the business or community past the next generation, the next fifty years or two hundred years requires better strategic thinking.

Tipping point, used in military terms, are those times when a gradual accumulation of small changes results in a sudden major shift in a balance; restoration of the prior equilibrium may be very difficult or even impossible ( Difficult as these small changes are hard to put into a recognizable pattern that provides advance warning. Much of this tipping point analysis focuses on Afghanistan but it shows up in general military planning.

The big question from the tipping point and how it relates to 3CFortress is all about urban planning and business continuity. Look at several Internet searches on “tipping point” and I find it disturbing that nothing address the future direction of communities and corporations to survive a crisis. How long have we heard the term “urban sprawl” used? How many more cities/communities do we have to see fail? It is truly a scary thought to think that we have reached the tipping point on communities and corporations being able to do anything to change course. If we have reached this point then just like a pandemic we have to come up with a plan of how to stop the “old” way of regional and local planning.

Check It Out – Found an article on the “Castle In The Clouds”. Thomas G. Plant put this plan into action using architect J. William (John W) Beal (perhaps others). I mention the architect because this is one person that is a key player on the 3CF team. Incorporating so many related concepts is a challenge that you need expert advises on. It jumped out at me but this place started as a “Park”. It was described as a self-sufficient community (Lee farm) albeit a hard life. My take on this point is that improvising (think AdIOS) a farmer’s market into supporting the 3CF is a must have part of the plan.

Taking a quick look at where they may have gone wrong the amount of land in use jumped out at me. It appears that it rose to about 336 acres but for some reason (finance?) it dropped back to 150 acres. This may have been a tipping point leading to an unsupportable amount of land to be self-sufficient. This will vary depending on location but it is another key point in the 3CF plan.

Postive points were: 1) Using a lodge to house visitors and family. Expand this to be a 3CF long-term living hotel. 2) School on site. Haven’t mentioned this much but the 3CFortress has to be adaptable (AdIOS) and scalable. Instead of the office tower make it the school tower. This can be for Elementary, High School or a college. 3) Construction materials and labor were from local resources. This points back to my Detroit (and other dying cities) response that 3CF can help revive an economy and make money for the investors.

I will be talking more about how to come up with a plan to make a 3CFortress happen.

Quick Tip – Reading The Tipping Point by Gladwell brought out an interesting point about the number One Hundred Fifty (150). Gladwell’s research pointed to a tipping point when an organization grew larger than 150 people. At that point the organization of that many people becomes unmanageable. After looking at several companies and religious organizations it did stress the point that crossing the 150 level requires a lot of planning. If you don’t think ahead and adapt then be prepared to suffer the consequences.

Look Who’s Talking – See my recent responses to and posted here on this blog. Another tipping point subject was GMO food. is asking if the tipping point has been reached and whether or not we really have a choice? When you plan your 3CFortress you have a choice!

What Do You Think? – Should I expand and deliver another post on “tipping point”? I do plan one on “decision point” and how they relate. Help me reach the 3CFortress tipping point! Spread the word.

Handling Risk Management

Introduction. Risk management is going to be one of the subjects that will put you on the path to building a 3CFortress. Once you list and analyze the risks for your community and/or corporation the light bulb will come on, lighting the way to surviving the impact. Ignoring the risks means the impact is lurking out there just waiting to rear its ugly head. Can you afford to ignore risks and realistically stay in business when the risk hits? That is the main topic for today.

Risk Management 101

BLUF (Bottom Line Up Front) is this:

1. Identify/Make a list of the Risk (Hazards).

2. Determine what the Probability and Magnitude the Risk presents.

3. What “Stuff” (Assets) is affected or vulnerable from the Risk?

4. Determine the Impacts (Damage) for each Risk.

5. Finally, determine how to prepare, mitigate or reduce the risk.

Simple huh? Of course not but taking the first step will have you taking the road less taken. The road ends with a 3CFortress. Ignoring the risks puts you on the path to destruction or going out of business.

1. When you create a list of risks don’t get caught up in semantics or spin off on whether or not risks are threats, crisis points, hazards, etc. Pull together a team that can put this list together and not hold back. Don’t worry about if this risk requires further analysis or if it truly does affect your 3C. All that is done in later steps.

Here is a list to get you thinking: Fire, explosion, Natural hazards (see below), Hazardous material spill, Terrorism, Workplace violence, Pandemic disease, Utility (Power Grid) outage, Mechanical breakdown, Supplier delivery failure, Cyber attack, Financial crisis, Economic crisis, Earthquakes, etc.

Many of these break down into other areas such as Natural hazards. This includes floods (water rising and wind driven rain), tornadoes, hurricanes, severe drought, winter storms, and wildfires. Terrorism has many faces and that face can be the same as one of the others listed above (chemical spill or cyber attack). If statistics show that perhaps thirty percent of businesses failed during Super Storm Sandy is there any doubt that natural hazards need to be on your list of risks?

A quick note on the economic crisis risk is that the books about the “Aftershock” predict more than fifty percent of business will fail during that crisis period. It would be prudent to think about what events or risks would cause this amount of failures. Repeated several times but risk like this has a severe impact. If you assess a low probability to it the impact is too high to ignore and must be addressed.

Did I miss any? Bet I did so add any that you come up with and save the assessment and analysis for later. Two not on the list that come to mind are EMP (Electro Magnetic Pulse) and Solar Radiation. EMP could come from an accident or terrorist attack. It is similar to the Power Grid going down but has its own unique impacts. Solar radiation could come from a solar flare coming from our Sun. Both can involve severe damages to infrastructure but let’s stick with the most common or one’s that have a high probability of happening.

2. Probability and magnitude can be tough to figure out so don’t be afraid to hire a consultant or professional to help on this step. This is not something to settle with a SWAG (Scientific Wild Ass Guess). Assigning too high of probability or magnitude can lead to incorrect and/or unnecessary costly plans to mitigate or reduce that risk.

You need to have a realistic idea of whether or not this risk or hazard can occur in your 3C area. Preparing for a hurricane in Missouri might seem like a waste of time or zero probability but what do hurricanes start from and break down into? Tropical storms! These storms can bring unusual amounts of rain that forecasters might not predict. Hurricanes might not have a high probability as you go up the USA East Coast but don’t forget the magnitude and impacts that Super Storm Sandy brought with it. Sandy went farther inland than initially expected, much to the surprise of many communities and businesses. Look at how many businesses folded for good after Sandy and you might decide to keep this on your list.

Several risks can be too general or not specific enough. No problem. This is how it begins. Asking several “What if?” questions are a good start. What if Supplier X was unable to deliver one or more critical supplies to your business or community? The 3CFortress concept looks at the “big picture”, system or holistic approach. Going back to the Sandy example, how was the infrastructure failure and local community supply interruptions affecting business continuity? Careful, remember back that a plan that involves going it alone or with a castle mentality is doomed to fail. If no outside help can be expected then the 3CFortress concept takes this into consideration. Don’t set yourself up for failure.

Before we get too deep into risk analysis I ask you to keep in mind that risks or threats can be opportunities. An economic crisis centered on the food supply could create an opportunity for a Farmer’s Market of local Food CO-OP that may not have been considered before. Creating ways to shorten to shorten the living triangle and length of the supply chain creates more local businesses and jobs.

3. Figuring the assets at risk and vulnerabilities is not going to be an easy task. In order for this to be analyzed it will require a large amount of data gathering. Use the power of the Internet to gather historical data for your area. I am thinking of Galveston, TX and the hurricane that hit there in the year 1900. It was deadly and devastating to say the least. Are the conditions the same today? No, so your work is cut out for you to apply what an Saffir-Simpson Category 4 would do today. What if it is Category 3? How would the loss of oil production and oil refineries affect the state of Texas? The region? This is a prime example of Low Probability with High Impact. The high impact forces you to budget money for this in order to mitigate or reduce the impact.

4. Once you determine the impacts, the total picture of each risk comes into view. As mentioned in the Galveston example, if the impact is very high then you have no choice but to include it on your “to do” list. Impacts can go beyond financial costs. Look over your risk list and you will see that natural hazards can lead to casualties that can overwhelm the local system. Does your plan rely on the local medical facilities or do you have your medical facility on site? Pandemics create casualties from an initial event but linger on for weeks. More on this later but you can see that addressing this risk involves what to do with sick workers and secession plans. While expensive, moving to another location may have to be part of your plan. Last, the Boston Marathon bombing showed that terrorism should be on everyone’s list.

Any business that wants to make it past the impact has a long list to address: Financial loss, Business interruption, Loss of customers (from Supplier failure), Environmental contamination (think BP in Gulf of Mexico Deepwater Horizon), Fines and penalties and Lawsuits (Reference: Have you started to wonder if some of these events are survivable? They are but you have to develop a plan and put it into action.

5. Coming up with a plan to mitigate or reduce the risks is not going to be an easy task. The risk management plan will have to be approved and money budgeted. It is doubtful if any of the risks can be mitigated over night. Any 3C needs to sign on to this plan for the long haul. Part of the plan has to address what to do if the risk happens before your plan is complete? Are there any “trigger events” warning you of a risk about to happen? What actions can you take before the risk event that will reduce the impacts?

Besides the business management team there is another group that needs to be included in this risk management process. Talking about the “Stakeholder” group. Some examples of key stakeholders are creditors, directors, employees, government (and its agencies), owners (shareholders), suppliers, unions, and the community from which the business draws its resources. Read more:


As several people have said, “We’re all in this together”. Looking over the stakeholder examples from shows the 3C’s (corporate, community, city) are, in fact, all in this together. No individual plan for a community or corporation is going to work. Everyone is a stakeholder, which the 3CFortress concept takes into consideration.


Check It Out. IKEA announces commitment to using renewable energy at their stores, when feasible. While this is just one piece of the 3CFortress concept it is a huge step in the right direction. It is clear that IKEA takes the local environment into consideration as some involve solar and others wind turbines. The size of the system at each store mentioned is amazing. Obviously, this scale of investment doesn’t come cheap but they see the savings over the long haul. Little doubt that as the technology improves IKEA will take advantage of that as future stores are built. One can only hope this commitment is seen positively by the local community enough that they want to shop at IKEA even more.

Quick Tip – Credited several times today and it is a good place to start. One note of caution is some web developer or government worker may have added too much information and ended up overwhelming the reader. What I would like to see more of is what “Wisdom” we can gather from this site. Using the DIKW (Data-Information-Knowledge-Wisdom) information flow I have to wonder if the information is too much and figuring out what is useful for future use (wisdom) is very tough to pull out. Visit the site and see if you agree or not.

Look Who’s Talking. had a post about a disruption in trucking transportation affecting the delivery of food supplies to the local community. Responded that I couldn’t agree more. The only point to make was I don’t think you can grow enough of your food to get past the impact of this risk. Scaling the solution to a 3CFortress is the only way to do that.

What Do You Think? Are you with me so far?


Winning is Staying in Business

Along with all the challenges that businesses face, planning to be open after a disaster is one problem you can’t afford to ignore. Some estimates show that over thirty percent of businesses failed after Sandy (October, 2012). What caused them to fail? That is the sixty-four dollar question.

Starting a business continuity plan is no easy task. Most plans deal with saving “big data” with energy back ups (generators) and redundant servers. I contend you have to go much farther in your planning in order to stay open after a disaster or crisis. A holistic plan includes how to keep the business in operation by providing a way for employees to stay at work during the crisis. Not only are employees considered but their families. History is full of employees not coming to work as they were taking care of their own first. If your employees don’t come to work, then you are in danger of going out of business very quickly.

Think about this for a moment. Planning to take care of employees and their families during a crisis is not in very many plans if any at all. At first, thinking about housing, food and water quickly turns into a daunting task. Not done correct can easily lead to disaster. Let’s break this down into manageable pieces.

Housing can be tackled in several different ways. The primary way to provide temporary housing is to have a “suite” hotel nearby. During a crisis, the hotel is not going to have much outside business. Work out an agreement with the suite hotel so that suites can be paid for at a negotiated rate. Obviously, the suite hotel will need to have their own employees at the hotel and it to have its employees stay on site.

Another housing option, if you go by the Fortress concept, is having apartments and condominiums in the same complex. Can you imagine walking to work every day. A crisis doesn’t change anything except to make these local employees even more important.

Water should be problem number one! The old saying about you can’t live without water for more than three days is true. Between the suite hotel and the apartments and condominiums on site the water problem is minimized. If the complex is totally dependent on city water than you have a problem. A big problem. You will read a lot about how much water is needed per person per day. It is enough that storage and capture methods should be considered. All I will say about this amount is that it needs to include fresh drinking water along with cleaning (bodies and dishes) and sewer needs. You can find uses for “gray” water but some method of water purification needs to be part of the plan.

Providing “food” in the plan has to happen on several layers. The suite hotel should have a restaurant. It helps to have both a fast food and sit down dinner arrangement. Since this is part of the fortress concept, both food options should be open to the residents. If a crisis happens then these provide the food option for those working and living in the complex. To back up this option their needs to be a farmer’s market in the local area. For everything in the plan a contract of some kind needs to be in place and ready to implement at a moment’s notice.

There are several more pieces of the plan to be worked out so that the fortress plan will work. This needs to work during a crisis but it needs to work out and be profitable before the crisis hits. All continuity or crisis planning is based on risk analysis. Risk analysis takes into consideration the probability of the event. No matter when it might happen you need to have a working plan in place. Practicing or rehearsing the plan involves having company employee weekends. Have the employees that live off site bring their families on site for a night or weekend. Make it enjoyable for all but make sure that key pieces are tested and gaps or problems are analyzed and fixed.

I keep going referring back to the picture of Windsor Castle but without a doubt this picture says a thousand words on how to think about a fortress complex.

I am seeing more 55 plus living cooperatives being built. The latest one in the Kansas City area is Village Cooperative coming to Shawnee, Kansas. Similar to other sites and companies, they offer a good place to consider living. The key element that is missing is work; a place of employment. Living here still involves driving to work if you are not retired yet. The fortress concept involves walking to work and play from your residence. I can only hope that future sites will take a more holistic or fortress approach.

Quick tip for this article is carry an EDC or Every Day Carry kit. Depending on where you live and what your place of employment allows, this kit will be different. At a minimum you need to have a flashlight, an energy bar and some water. A way to make fire can be a psychological need and more.

A good place to start continues to be

What do you think? What challenges are you facing when trying to start a business continuity plan with this fortress concept?

New Fortress Urban Planning

Another article on what the Big Picture is for a Fortress concept by applying new or a different look at urban planning. Most modern cities are not set up for business continuity (stay open) or survival of the general population. Most experts agree and history has shown that evacuations can be very problematic. Going to the Fortress Concept will mitigate these risks.

Before we talk about changing urban planning let’s try to agree on what would be called the “basics”. Urban planning is about the people, the places (work and play) and the environment for the area under consideration. All this is intended to be planned growth on into the future. This has been going on for some time and we got off track at some point. With people now going to school to learn about urban planning, making it a profession, it would be reasonable to expect that a brighter future lay ahead for all cities, great and small.

You can disagree with me on the direction we are headed but I see no valid attempt at stopping things like sprawl, downtown decay, urban flight, zoning and re-zoning issues, etc. Several people have tried to point us in the right direction. The first ‘shopping mall’ had many other features to it besides shopping retail stores. It had a zoo and recreation areas planned in. You could say it was a hit but someone decided that no, a mall is for shopping. You have to ask about how they lost sight of keeping customers there that translated into more shopping time / more purchases.

As I drive around areas that have new development all I see is more of the same. It seems the planners realized, “Oh, we need some retail stores”. Put a stand-alone one here, a strip mall here and okay, another few stand-alones here. Same with the housing needs. Some apartments here and oh yes, a nice subdivision here, a nicer one here from our fav developer. Oops, need a gas station or two, an entertainment zone, a bank…oh my. A Monopoly board comes to mind. Everyone will pass Go and will stop by all these places we have set up. They are so spread out you need a vehicle to take you around. Spread out rapidly turns into sprawl no matter what your plan is supposed to look like.

The Fortress Concept calls for several improvements. A reasonable number of people should be able to walk to work and some kind of recreational or entertainment zone., and other sites have walkability indexes built in now.  Planning for a walk to work and to a park is easy enough to plan but walk to your local food market takes a considerable amount of forethought. Despite “Farmer’s Markets” making a small come back the distance from where food is sold to your residence requires a vehicle in almost every case. How far of a walk is to the basic needs of life is a key component in the fortress concept. When you think of a fort or castle do you think you have to walk a long way to anything?

A. Barry Rand, CEO of AARP, in an article “Livable Communities” discussed the needs of the boomer generation. Is a community livable for the 10,000 people turning 65 every day? He rightly went on to ask if the community was just as comfortable for an 80-year-old as an 8-year-old. It made me think back to my thought above about planning to make a community “livable” takes a great deal of forethought especially if many areas have to be reworked or just plain started over. Mr. Rand said this is an AARP priority and finished it with this statement:

“It is big, long-term job that requires everyone to be involved”.

Beyond walking people in urban areas need to see a transportation plan. Roadways (streets) should make it easy to move from one area to another. Driving to work should not involve “rush hour” traffic that forces commutes to be over 20 to 30 minutes. Planning in a walk to work goes a long way to alleviate this problem. So does public transportation. Buses may not be the most desirable mode of transportation they do cut down on the number of individuals driving one vehicle around only to arrive at their destination and start looking for a parking spot. Perhaps many of you have been to a city that has a great metro or subway to get you around. Taking out the figuring out directions while on the move and finding a parking place goes a long way to an enjoyable day outing.

Public services (energy, utilities, water, sewer, safety) are not just important they are critical. Anyone that visited a third world country where electricity is prone to shut off or brown out, potable water is hard to come by or a sewer system was never planned doesn’t make for the greatest trip. You could be staying at a 5 star hotel and get Montezuma’s Revenge eating out in town. Thank goodness many of these are not an issue in most cities today. The basics of future planning has to take these into consideration and not in the traditional way. Getting power and water to every living and work area may grow to be a concern. The fortress concept takes deals with this more like a giant RV (Recreation Vehicle). You “have” what you “have” onboard. Your batteries better be charged and your water tanks full before you start a long journey. A Pollyanna attitude of getting the services as you go along is a recipe for disaster. A closer look needs to be taken at self-sufficiency and going “Green”.

Safety can mean many things but for this article I will touch on safety from natural and man-made disasters. The first step is understanding what is in your area, weather or man-made, that can pose a threat to at least one day of normal activity. What is the current plan for tornadoes, sever thunder storms and snow, hurricanes, flooding, etc? Is the current plan going to work…realistically?  You don’t want to find out that the levee system is no longer viable or that 90% of the homes and schools don’t have a shelter to go to. Is there a chemical plant in your city, oil or fuel storage facilities or pipelines, or a large dam? The man-made structures need a contingency plan for workers and the local population. As the saying goes, a failure to plan is a plan to fail. If the plan involves evacuation then is that workable or would it lead to “gridlock”? From what I read about the World Trade Towers on 9/11 one company had a plan to evacuate and rehearsed it often. On that fateful day they evacuated hundreds of people that would have been casualties if they had stayed in place.

While the focus of this article has been on communities or cities the same questions can be asked at the corporate or business level. Does your company view “work” as someplace to go and do your job from 9 to 5? If you want to eat lunch outside the office space then how far do you have to go? If you are hosting visitors or a large conference how do you get services for all of these people? Where do they stay over night? Some businesses are leading the way on this and close to a fortress concept. Any business that has a cafeteria falls into this area. If there is a hotel co-located or within walking distance then great. This all comes down to what happens if a disaster forces evacuation of homes but the business is still in operation. Can the workers (and their families) be put up in the hotel or shift to a conference mode of daily working conditions? Can your business afford to be out of operation for days, weeks? Most likely not so start to plan on how to keep operations going. If you have customers and clients in another region that is not affected then you have to continue to deliver. Come up with the contingency plan to keep operations going at all costs. This plan has to be 360 degree or cover all angles and risks but most of all it has to be workable.

My goal in this article was to raise awareness. Awareness that corporate and community planning may not be in sync and most likely is not set up for business or group continuity. A disaster whether man-made or not can bring out the weaknesses with deadly results. Future articles will talk about examples, tips and what you can do to prepare for “that day”.

Quick Tip: Think back to the RV example I gave you. How can you make your residence or business more like an RV…more self-sufficient? Any RV can only go as far as it’s supplies hold out. Plan for power (an extra battery or generator), water (start a home delivery service) and stock up some food. Make it food that you would eat. Medical is a big concern but that is a Quick Tip for another day.

Look Who’s Talking: Boulevard Brewing added some solar arrays to their building. I hope to tell you more about this as they work to address their power concerns. Some cities are having “Going Green” contests. I will be taking a look at some of them. How could some of the fortress concept have helped Detroit? Good question and look for the discussion in a future article.

What Do You Think? Please reply and let me know. I don’t know if you are out there if you don’t.