We come across so many questions about resilience ranging from what is resilience to how can resilience protect my bottom line… So we thought it was about time we started an FAQ with frequently asked questions about business resilience and because we have both academic and practitioner experience, if we don’t know the answer, we’ll find it anyone else does! So feel free to have a read and pose any business resilience question you like by clicking on the comment bubble next to the title of the post.
We’ll Start with an Obvious One – What is Resilience?
It’s all about surviving and thriving! Business resilience is an organisation’s ability to identify, plan for and mitigate potential threats and respond adaptively to disruption, even creating opportunities and finding the silver lining from crises. IT disaster recovery alone is not enough!
Resilience is about more than ensuring continuity through disruption or recovering and bouncing back from disaster; resilience is about protecting your bottom line and thriving and bouncing forward to create advantage over less adaptive competitors.
A resilient organization effectively aligns its strategy, operations, management systems, governance structure, and decision-support capabilities so that it can uncover and adjust to continually changing risks, endure disruptions to its primary earnings drivers, and create advantages over less adaptive competitors.
Starr, R. Newfrock, J. and Delurey, M. (2003) Enterprise Resilience: Managing Risk in the Networked Economy, Strategy and Business (30), 2-10
You can think of resilience as un umbrella term which is used to describe the way your business survives and thrives, even when things go wrong. Resilience results from a combination of planning, innovating and training before a crisis, and adapting and innovating and learning during and after a crisis.
Steve Clarke – What constitutes business resilience?
Ok so we have our first question via a group on LinkedIn! Steve Clarke has asked – what constitutes business resilience? Well we have included an answer to the question ‘what is business resilience’ in the original post, but I feel perhaps what constitutes business resilience is a slightly different question, so here’s your answer Steve….
Business resilience is an organisational outcome; it’s a goal which organisations can aim for. Disciplines such as business continuity management, risk management, crisis management, security, IT disaster recovery and high reliability leadership are all tools which organisations can use to help them achieve resilience.
The Resilient Organisations Research Programme (www.resorgs.org.nz) model of organisational resilience suggests that resilience is made up of 2 dimensions (planning and adaptive capacity) which in turn can be measured using 13 indicators. A research report about the development of the model is included on our Publications page.
Sayed Harir Shah – How do you consider the role of risk, policy, safety, HR, disaster recovery and business continuity in business resilience?
Another question from Sayed Harir Shah on a LinkedIn group who asks,
“I am a disaster risk management consultant and practitioner and for me Resilience is a very wide concept. Regarding Business Resilience, it is interconnect and interdependent mechanism based on legal reform of risk reduction, adaption and implementation of policies and plans, physical, social and economic safety of assets, availability of human and financial resources for developing and designing disaster recovery and business continuity planning. How you consider these aspects in your business resilience concept?”
Thanks for your question Sayed. We think of resilience in a similar way to yourself, business resilience is an organisational goal achieved through the art of integrating resilience disciplines such as business continuity and risk management (see our previous answer to Steve’s question. We consider these resilience disciplines as tools which, when balance in combination can build business resilience. The trick is knowing the strengths of each resilience discipline, being able to combine them successfully, and then continuously readdressing and realigning that balance as the organisation changes.
Sayed Harir Shah – How difficult it is to combine all of these multi-dimension and multi-sectoral functions together to make businesses resilient?
Combining all of the resilience disciplines together to actually build resilience is definitely one of the challenges that we face. It’s different for every business and even within organisations the approach needs to be continuously adjusted and tweaked in relation to changes in the business environment and its risk profile.
To do it we use all of the disciplines and their associated tools as a bit of a pick n’ mix, and then we choose the most appropriate tool for the job. In many ways BCM managers have been doing this for years, but we need to take it further. In practice it’s about integrating your approach right from the start with integrated holistic policies, governance, oversight, evaluation and measurement. After all if the purpose of disciplines such as BCM and risk management is to help build resilience, then their effectiveness can only be judged by the extent to which they achieve that.
We use tools from each discipline to improve organisations’ planning and make them more responsive, adaptive, agile and competitive during ‘business as usual’. Through training and awareness we then transfer the knowledge locked up in documents and management boards into actual capabilities.