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Cushion Caution: Managing Business Impacts

They don’t call it fun run for nothing!

I noticed that more and more people are joining running events, which are held mostly on Sundays. Participants just cannot get enough and there are a lot of reasons why. I guess it all starts with the personal responsibility to exercise regularly to stay physically fit and healthy. There is also the social responsibility to support great causes to help raise funds and awareness regarding breast cancer, domestic violence, disaster relief and environment, among others. The fiesta atmosphere in fun runs is also encouraging especially for those new to running.

On a personal note, instead of viewing running as either personal or social responsibility, I look upon my running time as a gift to myself each day. Running is a stress reliever for me. It also allows me to ‘patrol’ our community and ‘profile’ the people in it for security purposes, which mean making friends with your neighbors.

Indeed, running is fun. But the fun in fun run runs out when you get injured. At least, that was how I felt when I had a left knee joint effusion a month ago.It hindered my overall mobility for weeks. At that point, the only way and place I could have my own fun run is to run down memory lane.  It was not really fun, I must admit because down memory lane I saw myself as a boy who hated walking three kilometers each day to go to a private school. At times, I had to run to be on time for class, to go to the bathroom and to save myself from stray dogs. I felt so poor and deprived.

As a young boy, I have every reason to feel that way. Why? I heard many times from successful people whose stories are from rags to riches how they suffered walking (and some hiking from one hill to another) for several kilometers without footwear, as they could not afford it. You can really feel their suffering as they share their past. I guess one of the things successful people immediately buy when they get rich and famous is branded footwear. They must have the best rubber shoes with inner sole that works as a cozy cushion. Of course, the footwear is just the icing on the cake. Why walk when they can ride their chauffeur-driven luxury cars or even fly in their private plane?

Ken Bob, the guru of shoeless running and author of ‘Running Barefoot Step by Step’ said, “In the beginning, we were barefoot. Then we screwed up and invented running shoes”. I totally agree with him. We have to be aware of ‘the perceptual illusion’ of running shoes. In the Philippines, we were also barefoot until we bought running shoes as a measure of success.

The author explained in his book that when you run in socks, shoes, inserts, midsoles, and outsoles, your body’s proprioceptive system loses a lot of input. Proprioception is the relative sense of where, how fast, and with how much effort the body is moving, and where its various parts are located in relation to each other. All that foam padding plus posts, bridges and dual-density midsoles offer protection from the elements. But these may protect you too much. These things are deceiving the body. We want protection from harmful objects, but scientific studies have not shown that cushioning or motion control stop injuries. In fact, the opposite may be true.

Studies further show that chronic, running-related bone and connective-tissue injuries are rare in developing counties like in Haiti with its large barefooted population. These injury rates were substantially higher in their shod populations. Accordingly, the rash of overuse injuries was linked to running shoes.

The guru also said that bare foot is an organ of touch, movement, balance, and survival. In early childhood, toddlers use it as a sensory device to develop proprioception. Children learn how hard or soft it is for their feet to step down, push off, or twist. They learn not to land on the heel when running because the pain from one impact is a strong inducement not to do it again.

Sponsoring fun runs means ensuring the business enterprise stays fit and healthy financially. Unlike an individual, a business organization may be required to run 24/7. Such organizations simply cannot afford to have significant business disruptions. Sponsoring running involves social responsibility. Organizations call it corporate social responsibility (CSR). In fact, some companies have learned they can get effective marketing mileage by sponsoring fun runs for a cause.

Like actual running, running a business also requires managing impacts. The footwear mentality, as I call it, has become so completely ingrained in our culture that most of us cannot seem to live now without creature comforts. I know now that footwear, which may simply be injuring or even killing us softly, can be deadly.

I pointed out in a previous article that there are companies that suffer from a mindset called ‘disavowal’. It means running the business with ineffectual risk management by transferring risks to someone else but ignores the indirect costs that will be incurred. These costs include the hidden charges and uninsured, out-of-pocket expenses due to downtime costs and overtime work. Such method in running a business is far too common. There is little doubt that an unmanaged business impact, masked by some kind of footwear-like protection, is responsible for damaging a company’s financial health. Unlike an individual with shod running method, an organization has its business reputation also at stake.

In Business Continuity Planning, Risk Assessment (RA) and Business Impact Analysis (BIA) help us mitigate risks.

Both were discussed in detail in my previous articles. In general, the risk assessment starts from the threat side and the business impact analysis starts from the business process side. I am adding that these may perhaps be the barefoot that will prevent a company from unnecessarily injuring itself. Much like an avid runner, it makes sense for a company to understand its own proprioceptive system first before wearing protective running gears.

To ignore these BCP is to run a business senselessly.There is no fun in such run.

First published in the Business Resiliency section of Volume 1 Issue No.6 of SecurityMatters Magazine – Print Edition