This expression refers to designing an organizational system so that if any one element were to be wiped out--as in hit by a meteor--the system as a whole would continue to function. Specifically, the term refers to the distribution of tasks and responsibilities among human resources.
The term is a more far-fetched (and therefore more palatable) version of being "hit by a bus."
Another way to describe this concept in Geek language would be: Making the elements of a system "hot-swappable." If one element fails, it could be replaced on-the-fly without causing major disruption to the overall function of the system.
A meteor-proof organization needs to include redundancy and transparency in its design.
Redundancy of human resources could be achieved in many ways within an organization, among them:
- Rotation of critical duties (similar to cross-training)
- Trusting critical responsibilities to teams, rather than individuals.
When the work, itself, cannot be shared, the knowledge regarding how to do the work should be. In general this is accomplished through documentation.
It is also important that work be visible. Work carried out "behind-the-scenes" hides the true cost of operations. This could cause a shock to the system when a worker suddenly disappears, and that worker's unknown contribution must be replaced, incurring an unbudgeted expense.
Moreover, when invisible work suddenly stops being done, it only becomes apparent when something fails catastrophically.