Continuity Planning ... a lesson from the US Army?

Building a learning culture to help performance, preparedness and resilience
Operations Orders are issued in the US Army to enable the co-ordinated execution of an operation, so why not use a similar procedure in your organisation?
The professional definition of BCM is “Business Continuity Management is a holistic management process that identifies potential impacts that threaten an organisation and provides a framework for building resilience and the capability for an effective response that safeguards the interests of its key stakeholders, reputation, brand and value creating activities". 
However, there is another older usage of the word Continuity, almost exclusively used by the US Army.
It makes reference to a "Continuity Book" which is: ". . . a reference document produced by an individual to share relevant information concerning a duty or position on which he/she has knowledge. It is normally produced for an individual assigned to take over that duty or position, such as a replacement NCO designated to substitute a departing squad leader. If a soldier has more than one duty, he/she should have several continuity books". 
There is no formal requirement within the US Army regulations for soldiers to produce a continuity book; it's just something that's been handed down from individual to individual for who knows how many decades. If you have ever received one, you know its value. 
The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that the annual rate of job turnover from August 2005 through July 2006 was at 40.2 percent. For the same period, new hires made up 42.6 percent of the working population. This indicates that over the past 12 months, at least two out of every five jobs were in some state of transition. With these levels of staff turnover what could the value be to organisations if "continuity handbooks" were embedded as part of routine job tasks throughout the enterprise? 
Well according to Jack Welch, former chief executive of GE: "If you want to manage people effectively, help them by making sure the org chart leaves as little as possible to the imagination. It should paint a crystal-clear picture of reporting relationships and make it patently obvious who is responsible for what results." The process of defining the organisational chart often struggles with the details of the relationships and processes between groups on the organisational chart very often omitting 'real life' complexities and importantly, the experience of those in the front line of the organisation in getting the job done! 
Improvement in productivity would be significant if people could be skilled for roles more quickly and the benefits of building an adaptable, transferable record of organisational procedures, capturing the experience of your people, invaluable in many situations, and not just to those involved in BCM. 
In the Army, the document they use for this purpose is called an Operations Order (OPORD), a directive issued by a leader to subordinate leaders in order to affect the co-ordinated execution of a specific operation.
A five-paragraph format is utilised to organise the briefing, to ensure completeness, and to ensure subordinates understand the order completely. The five paragraph headings are: Situation, Mission, Execution, Service Support, and Command and Signal. 
The Situation paragraph provides a general overview of the battlefield, the big picture Mission is a clear and concise statement of the unit's purpose and task, in detail, giving the "who, what, when, where, why." 
Execution contains the very detailed and precise "how to" information needed for accomplishment of the mission, consisting of three elements: concept of operation, subordinate unit subparagraphs and co-ordinating instructions. 
Service Support contains all Combat Service and Support information, including transportation, supplies, maintenance, MEDEVAC procedures, Enemy Prisoners of War procedures, personnel replacement, and so on. 
Command and Signal consists of information and instructions relating to the commander. It includes the location of the commander, location of the Command Post and, if different from SOP, the operational chain of command. The signal portion of this paragraph addresses all communications information. It gives all frequencies, call signs, duress codes, pass words, communications windows, near and far recognition signals for day and night, pyrotechnics signals, and so on. Upon receipt of an OPORD from one's superior, an officer prepares his own OPORD for distribution to his own subordinates. Each successive OPORD contains elements of the two OPORDs that precede it, thus ensuring subordinates have an awareness of the bigger picture objectives and their unit's part in it. 
Obviously, such a document would need to be slightly altered to be appropriate for non-military use to make it work, however the initiation and maintenance of a continuity book scheme would need to be an important part of every worker's evaluation process, from the chief executive down to the lowliest support pro. However, armed with an OPORD and a continuity book, any individual within any organisation will know exactly what their job is, how to do it and what prioritisation should be given to the tasks and goals assigned to them. However, with a plethora of collaborative working software now available it would be pretty easy for enterprises to relatively quickly detail and update its processes and procedures, capturing throughout the 'How to' aspects gained from experience of doing the job. 
The value of this approach would not just be in the field of BCM, but would also help with many aspects of staff turnover, skills transfer or employees absence for any reason. The idea has has some considerable merit, in my opinion and a couple of important outcomes: it is a simple and captures in a very straightforward manner 'institutional knowledge', it makes staff interchange a more straightforward process and can even help in working through organisational change making transformation tasks and goals possible. 
Let us know your thoughts on this idea or your own experiences.  
If you would like to know more about how your organisation can get involved and benefit from working with the Continuity Forum, please email us HERE! or call on + 44 (0) 208 993 1599.