What does a sump pump have to do with profitability?

During this past summer when the power went out and we had some flooding, a friend texted me asking if his sump pump would work while the power was off. Sadly, I told him “No.” I was thinking about that recently and how it applies to operational excellence and the organizations that pursue it.

Having the power go out for an organization is one thing, but it can also be a metaphor for something larger. What contingency plans do you have when the power metaphorically goes out? Do you sit around and wait for the power to go back on or do you have a plan in place? What if a system is down or the phone lines are out or your production line sputters?

When our power goes out, we have flashlights we can use, candles we light, and cell phones to make the calls we need to make. We can watch TV on our computers or iPads and we can still communicate with the outside world. Some houses even have generators providing back-up power. Life doesn’t stop.

But many organizations don’t have these back-up plans with the lights go out or their systems go down. They have no plan to continue running the business. They lose customers. They lose time. They lose money.

What plans do have in place for when the lights go out?