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It’s Christmas Eve, there are still millions of present to be delivered and the Alberta Clipper is wreaking havoc in Lapland. But don’t fear, Mary Christmas’s foresight saves the day…. good thing she was making a list and checking it twice, only this time she's looking strictly at key operational functions.

elves working preparing gifts

When the sun never sets it’s easy to lose track of time. Mary Christmas sighed and stretched, watching the penguins jumping into the sea and gliding out into the distance. She clicked print on the Lapland Business Continuity Plan, and went to give her husband the good news. But her efforts went unappreciated.

“Business continuity plan, Mary? We’ve been doing this for centuries and there’s never been a problem before, so we’ll do what we always do. You know I appreciate everything you do for the company, but I don’t have time to look at pointless paperwork… we have to deliver over 600 million presents, and these days we don’t even get the lists until after all that Black Friday nonsense. That’s where we need to focus. And don’t forget I will need my suit pressing, and I think my thermals have seen better days, so if you could do something about that?”

Undeterred, Mary carefully filed printed copies in each office, but the beautifully crafted and fully ISO 22301:2019-compliant business continuity plan lay dormant on the I-drive for the rest of the Summer… through Autumn… into Winter… seemingly destined to be forgotten forever.

Or was it…?

On Christmas Eve morning, Mary was sitting at her desk, making the final adjustments to the route plan, when Jingle Jollytoes, Chief Elf, walked in brushing snow from her hat.

“Hot chocolate, Mary? And a mince pie? It’s blowing up a storm out there, I hear the Alberta Clipper might even be putting in an appearance.”

Mary gratefully took the mug, and ticked off an item on the list beside her. “Thank you Jingle. Any sign of himself?”

“Hmmm… I did see him a while ago… something about popping out for polish for the sleigh bells.”

Suddenly all of Christmas Command plunged into blackness! The door to the office flew open, and Pre-flight Operations Manager, Twinkle Snowballs, peered round, her worried face illuminated by a candle. “Mary? Jingle? We’ve still got thousands of presents to wrap and load, and we can’t do it in the dark.”

Mary stood up and opened the clearly-labelled Contingencies Drawer handing copies of the business continuity plan to her right-hand women. “The timing isn’t ideal, but we have nothing to worry about: you two were both part of the planning and we know what to do. Let’s mobilise the incident response team and ask managers to cascade pertinent information as necessary to all front-line teams. Jingle, please could you let the penguins know that they need to implement Project Treadmill? Twinkle, the wrapping team’s work is our critical activity, we’ll put the 2024 preparations aside and support them. Let Rudolph know to update the route plan to option 2C to adjust for the weather conditions, the girls won’t want to be going headfirst into that icy blast.”

Illustration of three penguins, the larger one on top of a treadmillAnd within just a few short minutes, the penguins had connected the generator to the emergency treadmills, and were waddling and sliding at speed: the jump-started Aurora burst into life, illuminating the workshops in lovely greens and violets! Meanwhile, exactly according to the E.L.F. [“emergency la-la-la-la-la-la-la-la-(la) functions”] Protocol, word had spread through the cascade: the manufacturing team stopped their work on post-operations maintenance, the correspondence team stamped their remaining letters “it’s the Post Office’s fault”, and everyone rushed to the wrapping workshop bearing Sellotape and labels to support their colleagues for the final push. Business critical functions were up and running again! The sleigh was loaded, the reindeer harnessed. Would Christmas come after all?

But where was Santa -- last seen heading out to buy sleighbell polish? Well, just like the workshop electrics, he too had been side-lined by the storm, and was sheltering with some rather smelly walruses. He got out his phone to call Mary for help, but alas no signal, what to do? Then he noticed a light attached to his sleeve, flashing in a reassuring manner. A GPS tracker! Mary really did think of everything… Probably best to sit tight then. And indeed, unbeknownst to him, Jingle was already making her way towards him with a platter of cookies and a wee dram of brandy.

Mary stood by the sleigh, doing quick calculations on her fully-charged battery powered device and running down the final page of the hard-copy continuity plan. She quickly recognized that Jingle could not return with Santa in time for the Run. She sighed, and tapped her pen against a column she had hoped never to use: Santa’s Deputies. She looked at the iconic red suit and new thermals lying on the seat. There was nothing for it. She threw on the cloak and boots, and Twinkle gave her a leg up into the seat. Mary made one final tick and handed the clipboard to her. “You can do this Mary!” Twinkle cried. “You and your paperwork have saved Christmas for millions of children all around the world”. And then, to the Launch Centre, “CHRISTMAS IS GO.

The team of reindeer snorted their agreement, and Mary Christmas took to the skies.

Be more Mary… find out how to create your own Business Continuity Plan