The use of the word ‘resilience’ is definitely on the rise in the UK business and government community. It is also used in many conversations about business continuity (and in the accepted BCM definition). I thought I would unpack some aspects of this word related to business resilience and think about what it means.
The draft BS65000 – ‘guidance on organisational resilience’ is out for public comment by end July 2014 [bsi] and I have been taking a look at it to see what it adds. Whilst it is titled ‘organisational resilience’ I have been thinking about resilience and some Q&As:
Q. what is business resilience?
A: here is a suggestion: “business resilience is the organisation’s ability to adapt, resist, rebound and learn from internal and external change with threatens operational effectiveness or business strategy”. This was written before BS6500 was published and the proposed definition for organisational resilience is “capacity of an organisation to anticipate, and respond and adapt to incremental change or sudden shocks in order to survive and prosper”. I like the definition but I need to do some thinking. Plus the words: ability, capacity or capability need further definition.
Q. My thoughts were – what are the attributes of a resilient organisation:
A: could it be an ability or capability to:
• detect and sense changes in the environment
• adapt when unanticipated change occurs
• rebound and learn
• resist the business strategy being affected by internal or external unplanned change
• maintain the organisation norms and values in the face of adversity
Of course this opens the question as to what ‘capability’ is. If you can’t agree on the above attributes, BS65000 does discuss fundamental attributes, however I think these need testing. Depending on your view a large measure of an organisations’s capacity is about the people and their capabilities and the leadership they receive. For personal resilience attributes – which you could suggest that your leadership needs:
Q: what are the attributes of resilient people?
A: could this be a useful set of attributes? Resilient people are individuals who:
• see reality for what it is? a certain style of perception?
• have personality which is supported by some inner beliefs – sometimes only found in a crisis?
• can ‘dance’ with uncertainty – they can improvise?
• can also utilise others experience when needed – listen and adapting?
• often have a sense of humor and seem to be ‘comfortable’ in their skin?
This opens the discussion on what role experience plays in becoming resilient? How do you provide the opportunity for people ot experience a challenge to develop their capacity. The traditional means of training, coaching and relaistic exercise are effective methods employed by organisations who need resilient leaders and commanders (Emergency services, armed forces etc).
Q: what are the attributes of a resilient nation?
A: not a question I am going to answer – however, a recent demonstration of deliberate development of resilience is in the way that the USA can bring pressure to bear on the leadership of Russia over Ukraine – when on the face if it there was little that could be done. If there was ever a case for developing a resilient position as a deliberate strategy that adds to strength and possible foreign policy options – then here is an example: [Daily Telegraph 12May 14: USA Oil Prices as US toys with opening reserve stocks].
Final Q: is resilience the next logical step for the business continuity industry to move to?
A: In some sectors it has already with appointment of director or head of resilience’ who have a wider operational risk portfolio including responsibility for crisis and security management for example. I need to pick this up in a future blog post!
Check out the draft BS65000 for public comment?
Checkout what attributes a resilient organisation is said to possess?
How is your operating model incorprating organisational resilience, does it need to?
How do the aims of your enterprise risk management align to organisational resilience – is there an overlap?
How do your activity programmes assist in assisting people to become resilient (experiential learning through exercises etc)?