Dakota Doug and the Typhoon Tempest: An Adventure

Greenville patent attorney's tips on contingency planning

What Indiana Jones is to archaeology is what Doug Kim is to business and patent law.

No, this Greenville attorney doesn’t wear a fedora or carry a whip. However, his career exploring shipwrecks and the undiscovered frontiers of patent and trademark law are worthy adventures in their own right.

And because no adventure is without obstacles, Doug  kicked off NEXT’s very first 2024 Founder’s Forum  with some useful tips on overcoming the unexpected… like a typhoon in Guam. Literally. First, some more about Doug:: He’s a  computer programmer turned patent attorney who been on the leading edge of software patent law in the U.S. since graduating from law school in 1998. That was the same year the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that computer software was

 

patentable. Perfect timing! Beyond his legal practice, Doug is a certified scuba instructor who has explored shipwrecks and other undersea phenomena around the world.

 

Lawyer at Kim, Lahey & Killough by day, explorer by night. Are you feeling the Indiana Jones vibes?

Doug’s presentation was inspired by an at-sea adventure last year when his scuba trip to Guam and Micronesia was interrupted by the most powerful typhoon the region had seen in 65 years. Doug titled his talk “Contingency Planning & Disruptions: Preparing for a Typhoon,” but I’m calling it “Dakota Doug and the Typhoon Tempest!”

This once-in-a-generation storm kept Doug out of the office for two weeks longer than originally planned.  However, as the days slowly turned into weeks, pre-built contingencies began to kick in back at the law firm, ensuring that the weather disturbance in Guam didn’t wreak havoc back in Greenville.

 

Here are Doug’s suggestions on how to prepare your business for a metaphorical (or literal) typhoon:

  1. Conduct a Business Impact Analysis (BIA): This is just a fancy way of saying you should go through each of your company’s business functions and assess how catastrophic it would be if you experienced a disruption in any of them. Then, rank the functions from most to least disruptive. “If our billing goes down, that’s a big, big problem,” Doug said. “Email goes down, I’d probably enjoy it for a day or two. Figure out what’s really important and what’s not important.”
  2. Determine an acceptable downtime: Once you’ve ranked your key areas of business in order of importance, determine how long you could operate should each of these areas go down. “If I figure that out,” Doug said. “I know how much resources I’m willing to put into something. I’m willing to pay more to keep my accounting system up and running than I am my email.”
  3. Have a communications plan: Whether you’re talking about internal or external communications, your company needs to know who is responsible for talking to whom. Establish whose job it is to keep important people (i.e. clients, vendors, etc.) informed.

“Structure that ahead of time,” Doug says. “So you don’t have ‘Oh, I thought you were doing that job?’ ‘No, I wasn’t doing that, what about you?’ Figure that out ahead of time.”

 

  1. Keep copies of everything: A standard operating procedure for many companies, according to Doug, is to have three copies of anything, especially electronic data: two backups of everything and one-off site back-up just to be safe.

 

“This is easy stuff,” Doug said. “Just make sure it’s handled and done.”

Doug’s own adventure ended happily, with his colleagues at the law firm trusting the process and coming out of the storm relatively unscathed. But what if we aren’t as cunning as our intrepid scuba-diving attorney? What if our own plan isn’t as refined or executed as well? No worries, said Doug, who concluded his presentation with this quote from Judson L. Moore:

“A bad plan is better than no plan, and the most important quality of any plan is the flexibility to change.”

Good luck, adventurers!

Founders Forum in 2024
Founders Forum is changing things up in 2024!  This year, Founders Forum is making the rounds to new locations for each event. Join them for the next event at Atlas Local on February 13 from 3:30pm-5pm. (And BTW, it’s not the last change you’ll see this year from NEXT but shhhhhh, we can’t say anymore!)

 

About the Author

John Sweeney

Explorer. Conversationalist. Disney History Nerd. John Sweeney is a Communication Project Manager for the City of Greenville, working specifically on #StartupGVL. John is an Ohio native who has lived in South Carolina for nearly 20 years. He enjoys talking with entrepreneurs, exploring the wonders of the Upstate with his family and expanding his knowledge of Walt Disney based historical trivia.
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