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Best-Practice Strategies for Planning for Resilience

Last month, FEMA released its draft National Resilience Guidance for review. For organizations of any stripe, the document provides high-level, best-practice strategies for planning for resilience.

What are those strategies, specifically? Read on to find out.

What is the National Resilience Guidance?

So, what’s the point of the national Resilience Guidance? Well, the National Resilience Guidance, still in draft state, is intended to help all individuals, communities, and organizations understand the nation’s vision for resilience, key principles to strengthen resilience, and the players and systems that contribute to resilience.

Beyond that, the Guidance outlines how to strengthen resilience, specifically providing best-practice strategies for planning for resilience that we will lay out in this article.

How does the National Resilience Guidance define resilience?

One of the rationales for developing the Guidance is clarifying what resilience means.

Indeed, resilience, wherever you turn, seems to have different meanings. For the purpose of the Guidance, though, resilience is defined as “the ability to prepare for threats and hazards, adapt to changing conditions, and withstand and recover rapidly from adverse conditions and disruptions.”

Building from there, the Guidance argues that strengthening resilience entails executing a “multipronged approach and dedicated effort across the whole community.” That approach and effort take the following seven principles as their foundation:

  • All threats and hazards
  • Human-centered
  • Equitable
  • Adaptive
  • Collaborative
  • Sustainable
  • Interdependent

Strategies for strengthening resilience

When it comes to strengthening resilience, specifically, though, organizations and entities must have a good understanding of their shocks and stressors. Developing such understanding entails the following:

  • Identifying shocks
  • Analyzing risk, vulnerability, and potential consequences
  • Evaluating chronic stressors
  • Assessing the interactions between shocks and stressors

From there, as the guidance suggests, actors can weave resilience considerations into existing activities and planning efforts. That way subsequent decisions taken will prioritize resilience.

Best practices for planning for resilience

Chief among those resilience efforts is the resilience-oriented plan, which any organization and entity can make.

However, resilience planning itself is liable to take different avenues, depending on the inherent risk level of the organization or entity in question.

The genius of the guidance, here, is that it provides a list of pros and cons for likely planning stages. As the document writers note, these approaches are not mutually exclusive and may intersect and merge over time.

They include:

  • Create a stand-alone plan focused on resilience; likely to have the following pros and cons:



  • Keeps focus on resilience
  • Can create planning team from scratch
  • Can be designed free of constraints that other plans may have
  • May strain resources and add to planning fatigue
  • Adds another plan to an already crowded field which may create confusion
  • May be disconnected from other planning efforts including authoritative plans
  • Add resilience as a core component of an existing plan; likely to have the following pros and cons:



  • Can leverage existing planning team, relationships, and processes to jump start planning process
  • Can include in plan(s) where there is the most overlap with resilience issues and amplify existing efforts
  • May cause confusion about what resilience is or appear to just be re-branding existing efforts
  • Resilience loses prominence in plan
  • Must work within other plan structure and requirements which may limit scope and ability to address interdependencies or cross-cutting nature of resilience
  • Integrate resilience into all community plans; likely to have the following pros and cons:



  • May be able to fully address root causes and interdependencies because of the crosscutting nature of resilience
  • Institutionalizes resilience into community decision-making
  • Resilience loses prominence in plan
  • Must work within other plan structure or requirements
  • Requires significant resources and coordination, which may not fit within the timeframe, scope, or authority of the entity leading the planning effort

Finally, as resilience challenges mount, we’re likely to see more guidance providing actionable approaches to resilience planning and implementation.

For organizations and entities, though, it will be equally important to stress test developed resilience plans and systems against other best-practice guidance, such as ISO 22320 for incident management.

So, what’s ISO 22320 all about? Download our Guide to ISO 22320 for Incident Response Management.