Organisational resilience is often viewed as a firm’s ability to bounce-back and continue performing to meet its objectives in the face of one or multiple challenges.

However, it’s about more than just overcoming a ‘shock.’ It’s an ongoing, conscious process that represents the ability to absorb, adapt, transform and continue to thrive in the face of multiple threats.

There are two key elements to consider – ‘Planned Resilience’ and ‘Adaptive Resilience.’

Organisations exhibit planned resilience by using pre-existing policies, such as business continuity or risk management tactics to avoid or minimise the effect of a crisis. These can include preparing plans for during and after a period of natural disruption, such as a flood, pandemic, fire or even a terrorist attack.

Adaptive resilience emerges after a crisis, as organisations develop new approaches by responding to emerging situations. Although both planned and adaptive resilience is essential, the latter is more sustainable in the context of uncertainty and what the future may bring.

In effect, a resilient organisation is one that remains able to achieve its core objectives in the face of adversity by being situationally aware and adaptive.

Pandemic resilience lessons

By way of example, some of the main resilience takeaways for organisations following the pandemic include:

The need for collective commitment

Resilience cannot be achieved by any one organisation acting alone. It requires sustained, collective commitment, as well as:

Re-imagining the future

Factors that some organisations already had in place to help them weather the pandemic were that they were agile as a response, rather than as a planned mindset, which relies on moving several levers simultaneously to remain viable.

Re-imagining the future and focusing on business-critical dependencies such as processes and assets can have a material impact.

Some organisations were able to move from office-based working to entirely virtual operations within just three days. Some also introduced wellbeing programmes designed to support their people.

This shift emphasised online services and adjusted supply chains accordingly and some businesses continue to repurpose their operations to produce different products, or offer various services that are in demand as they futureproof additional revenue streams.

These organisations rethought their ways of working and created central rapid response teams to tackle strategic priorities and the entity’s critical challenges. Others developed networks that became self-sustaining and self-managing, championing radical transparency and authenticity.

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