I recently read a white paper by a major network equipment manufacturer, outlining their position on disaster recovery and recommending steps that every customer should take before and during data emergencies. While most of the text was very good, there was one recommendation that I found downright disturbing; the suggestion that disaster recovery should be handled by a committee.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for the concept of teamwork and I truly believe that having an idea discussed by people with differing backgrounds almost always leads to a better solution. Having your disaster recovery plan developed and written by a committee is not necessarily a bad idea, but having it implemented by a committee is a recipe for….well, disaster.
The strength of the committee approach is, as mentioned, the ability to draw upon the experiences of multiple people. The weakness of committees is that consensus takes time to develop, and time is something in short supply during a crisis. Disaster recovery should be coordinated by a single, highly competent person who can make decisions quickly.
The other major drawback to committees is a lack of accountability. A few years ago Cisco’s John Chambers implemented a leadership program consisting of councils and boards (read: committees) to govern the operation of the networking behemoth. By anyone’s measure the results were catastrophic and Chambers had to reign in the experiment. The main problem? On a committee, no one is responsible for results and blame is easy to spread.