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Navigating Business Resilience: Grey Rhinos and Black Swans

Is your business resilient to Grey Rhinos and Black Swans?

rhinos and black swans
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The animal kingdom seems to be used more and more as a metaphor and symbol of human behaviour, both physically and psychologically. There are elephants in people’s rooms and black sheep roaming within people’s families and social groups.

Yet in the business of risk and resilience, we find ourselves facing two other animals – the ‘Grey Rhino’ and the ‘Black Swan’. The ‘grey rhino’ is a known risk or threat that people chose not to act on despite the potential for harm. It is seen as something that is present, with a series of warnings – an event that is both highly probably yet somehow neglected.

In business, this can translate to those things that directly or indirectly impact everyday operations and services including, outdated policies, conflicting procedures and practices and ongoing disputes.

By comparison, the ‘black swan’ is an event that cannot be predicted, appears seemingly out of nowhere and has a profound effect across a multitude of sectors. Examples include, the 2008 Global Financial Crisis, Japan’s Tsunami and Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster, terrorist attacks like 9/11, and the 2019 Christchurch shootings.

Globally, grey rhinos are being taken more seriously, with many politicians and world leaders quoted in the media, describing economic and political instabilities as ‘grey rhinos’ in the distance. The lesson we can take from this type of media exposure, is to use the opportunity to envision the grey rhino risks within our own businesses, identify the likelihood and scale of their impact and prepare adequate business recovery strategies.

Keep in mind, protection from grey rhinos is more than just a physical one. The impact of a problem that was apparently in front of you the whole time, may have cascading consequences, impacting your business culture, brand and reputation.

In terms of risk management resources, many have argued that one cannot dedicate time and resources to preparing for a Black Swan event, however, taking the time to identify the grey rhinos, and strengthening your resilience through crisis management and business continuity, will surely build a foundation from which you can react and recovery from a Black Swan that might land on your doorstep.

If you want to discuss your level of resilience preparedness, contact RiskLogic to find out how.

The Resilience Digest