The 5Ps: preparing for the unplanned

Prior Preparation Prevents Poor Performance. A less colourful derivative of the British Army’s 7P’s. I was told this when I first started my career. The intention is planning for the unexpected. Anticipate likely scenarios your organisation will face and develop a framework that provides an initial response. This is tip of the spear Business Continuity Management planning.

Incidents can and do occur at work. For the most part they are non-life threatening and simply require basic knowledge on how to resolve. An example would be a vehicle accident. But not everyone is MacGyver, that much loved 80’s action hero, armed with his background knowledge or confidence, to solve minor incidents or respond to the initial stages of a major incident?

How often has this happened at work and you’ve been left wondering – what now?

Most of us would contact a colleague in the know or access Google or YouTube, or for those overwhelmed, do nothing. For the less dynamic incidents and assuming access, you might be able to draw down on your organisation’s knowledge base for guidance.

When it gets real

But what happens when those incidents that initially start as minor, escalate to major? What do staff use as a knowledge base to take next step actions? The luxury of time is rarely available.

One example is an active shooter in a work or populated public area. The FBI defines this as an individual actively engaged in killing or attempting to kill people in a populated area. Think it’s farfetched? A 2019 survey of Americans indicated 79% experienced stress as a result of the probability of a mass shooting, which means there is a need to understand what actions to undertake in these types of events.

These types of events are dynamic in nature, and a void occurs between the early stages of the incident, until emergency services arrive on scene. The time duration of that void is dependent on the resources and response of emergency services. What actions staff undertake and the velocity of that response, can make the different in setting them up for a higher level of safety success, or possible failure.


Start a conversation with your safety and security staff. Find out what resources are available to assist staff make better decisions and be better placed to respond to the unplanned whilst at work. This makes a safer workplace for everyone.

Start the conversation today, because can you afford not to?