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Organisational resilience in a crisis
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Organisational resilience in a crisis

Business continuity should be more than just getting back to business as usual…

The idea of organisational resilience sounds good in practice but the initial costs of adapting and making your organisation resilient can be intimidating. It is no longer about the investment of prevention, but an investment into a learning and proactive organisation that will innovate and grows from disruptions.

Quote from Howard Kerr BSI Group

Organisational resilience has been defined in a number of ways from leading institutions on this matter:

  • International Organisation for Standardization (ISO): Focuses on leadership and culture to drive organisational resilience
  • BSI: Organisational Resilience has three essential elements: product excellence, process reliability, and people behaviors.
  • BCI : Business continuity is one of the key management disciplines that are essential for building and improving organisational resilience
  • DRI: Organisational Resilience 2019 presentation states a convergence in Enterprise risk management and Business continuity management
  • Cranfield School of Management: Did an academic assessment of Organisational Resilience into four approaches: preventative control (defensive consistency), mindful action (defensive flexibility), performance optimization (progressive consistency) and adaptive innovation (progressive flexibility)
Organisational resilience framework from BSI
Organizational resilience ‘tension quadrant’ from Cranfield School of Management

So what is organisational resilience today?

Organisational resilience is a holistic combination of enterprise risk management and business continuity management. It not only prepares an organisation for disruptions, but it is also a framework to transform your organisation into a learning organisation. One that uses disruptions as a learning opportunity to improve operations and proactively investing in mitigating risks.

The definitions listed above have one thing in common, leadership needs to be a catalyst for organisational resilience and there is a strong need for inclusion of Business continuity in strategic planning. Business continuity needs to no longer be in a silo of getting things to ‘business as usual.’ It needs to be an integrated part of leadership to help plan for a crisis as well as setting systems in place to monitor and analyze disruptions.

Steps towards a resilient organisation:

1.Getting leadership on board

This is a big step in the right direction. Top management creates the culture for resiliency. Therefore, leaders themselves have to exhibit those traits. Investing in your leadership is a start into learning how to build the right culture, structures, reporting mechanisms, and long-term insight into being prepared for unforeseen events. According to Harvard Business review, leadership should exhibit and enable these traits in the workforce by demonstrating four core attributes of optimism, decisiveness, integrity, and open communications. Some key takeaways:

  • People prosper from success – creating a way to reward success in your organisation and to reinforce wanted behaviors
  • Provide encouragement, support and mentoring – building programs and training to spread the knowledge and empower your employees to better themselves. This can help them understand the structures and technology put in place to be prepared as well as tools to do so.

We would argue that a culture of organisational resilience is built largely upon leadership, what we refer to as ‘”resilient leadership.’”

Dr. George Stalk Jr. from Boston Consulting Group

Check out: BSI Six Steps to building Organisational Resilience

2. Monitoring, Reporting and Acting on Incidents

Building the right team and technical structure to monitor and react to small incidents can save you millions in the long run. Small incidents add up and this is a great way to learn about problem areas in your operations. Monitoring incidents is a vital step in understanding the weaknesses of your operation. It will help you know how to mitigate and most importantly, where to improve. Ideally, effective crisis management requires rapidly cycling between doing, monitoring, and diagnosing.

To be a truly resilient organization we need to be able to learn from incidents, exercises and near misses, to create a stronger and more adaptable organization.” Dr. Ruth Massie from Cranfield University

Check out: Cranfield Management School: A Summary of academic evidence on Organizational Resilience

3. Business Continuity in Strategic planning

Business Continuity Management has primarily been under the umbrella of crisis management and separate from the overall C-suite meetings. The few interactions with leadership primarily centered around funding for efficiencies or prevention. Imagine if the business continuity manager had a bird’s eye view of the whole operation. This valuable insight could help redirect resources in an event of a crisis and allocate appropriate funds to bring business units up to standards or mitigate a threat.

Your business continuity manager has that tacit knowledge of lessons learned and, more than likely, some ideas on how to prevent the incidents from happening again. If you allow your business to be stagnant with ‘band-aid’ fixes when incidents occur, you will leave your team unprepared and ill-equipped to react. Allowing them a voice in strategic meetings can help empower them to improve on their structure and process, and thereby learning and building a resilient organisation.

 “Organizational resilience is a strategic imperative and an organizational capability. Security and risk management leaders must work with the whole organization to design, implement and maintain resilience characteristics ….” – Gartner

 

In conclusion, the combination of risk management and business continuity is a necessary convergence to building organisational resilience. Crisis management shouldn’t be utilized only in a crisis but also within the spear of strategic management. Ultimately, these activities that create resilience also improve collaboration, coordination, and communications. Three main steps of building organisational resilience.

  1. Creating the right culture starting from leadership.
  2. Setting up the proper structure to monitor and analyze incidents
  3. Bringing in internal experts like your business continuity manager to tackle the organisational change.