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Thinking About Embedding Organisational Resilience

To succeed in these uncertain times, strengthening organisational resilience has never been more important.

Last year was a wake-up call for all of us, and to thrive in the coming decade, organisational resilience must be developed and the ability to withstand unpredictable threat or change, to then emerge stronger.

The world is undergoing increasingly fast and unprecedented change. Catastrophic events will grow more frequent but less predictably. They will unfold faster but in more varied ways. The digital and technology revolution, climate change, and geopolitical uncertainty will all play major roles. Here is how.

Technology & Digital Revolution

The digital revolution has increased the availability of data, the amount of connectivity, and the pace at which decisions are made. This offers transformational promise but also comes with potential for large-scale failure and security breaches together with rapid cascading of consequences. It also increases the speed at which a company’s reputation can change in the eyes of consumers and employees.

Climate Change

The changing climate presents structural shifts to companies’ risk-return profiles, which will accelerate in a non-linear fashion. Organisations need to navigate concerns for their immediate bottom line together with pressures from governments, investors, and society at large. All this while natural disasters are growing more frequent and severe.

Geopolitical Uncertainty

An uncertain geopolitical future provides the backdrop. The world is more interconnected than ever before – from supply chains to travel, to the flow of information and how it’s digested. But these connections are under threat, and most organisations have not designed their role in the global system for robustness to keep functioning smoothly, even if connections are abruptly cut.

In today’s world, where the future is uncertain and change comes fast, organisations need to look beyond short-term performance and basic organisational health. They must be able to not only withstand unpredictable threats, or change, but to emerge stronger. In short, there must be significant resilience.

Starting to embed resilience

Traditionally, to stave off disaster, organisations have put in place business continuity plans to respond to a list of potential threats—hurricanes, server outages, cyber-attacks etc. They have tended to include a dose of conservatism in a single-scenario planning approach. This approach is outdated. 

Businesses should strive as much as possible to embed resilience in the way they work, in a way that makes them better in normal times, not just in the face of unpredictable threat or change.

To get started in building resilience for the years ahead, companies can take three steps:

  1. Understand how resilient your organisation is today.
  2. Determine what your organisation needs to be resilient in the future.
  3. Design your approach to developing and maintaining the resilience your organisation needs.

Companies that understand the resilience they need for the future can implement sensible change. 

In case of vulnerabilities, this may mean transforming in ways big or small to enhance resilience directly. But, most importantly, firms should look to build resilience into any transformation they undertake, regardless of the primary goals—from digital to growth to cost. 

This yields more robust change and helps you bake in resilience from the outset.