Mind Your Language in Your Disaster Recovery Planning

Military precision? Business descriptions? No fluff? All these qualifications have a bearing on a disaster recovery plan, but with certain conditions.

Your DR plan must be readable, practical and action-oriented. Otherwise, in the heat of an incident, trying to understand and implement your plan may cost you precious time or lead you into errors, omissions, or conflicts.

Your DR plan should be something your staff wants to read because it is clear, flows well, and is of direct interest, rather than a tome that must be ploughed through, teeth gritted and matchsticks propping up your eyelids. Fortunately, a few simple rules can help.

Try the following rules from George Orwell (of “1984” and “Newspeak” fame!). He was referring to writing in terms of essays, newspaper articles, and the like, but much of what follows applies to disaster recovery plans too:

  • Never use a long word where a short one will do. Or, “Keep It Simple, Stupid!” (KISS)
  • If it is possible to cut a word out, always cut it out. Your DR plan is there to do a job. Don’t let wordiness get in the way!
  • Never use the passive where you can use the active. The active forces you to say WHO will perform an action or own a responsibility, vital points for any DR plan!
  • Never use a foreign phrase, a scientific word, or a jargon word if you can think of an everyday English equivalent. More KISS!
  • Break any of these rules sooner than say anything outright barbarous. Readability is still an important consideration.

Orwell also had another rule: Never use a metaphor, simile, or other figure of speech which you are used to seeing in print. For DR plans, this rule may apply less.

Corny isn’t all bad, if it puts a point across immediately in way that readers “get”. So, now it’s your turn – see what you can do to ramp up the readability and ease of application of your disaster recovery plan!

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