What Is Organizational Resilience?
Looking to learn more about resilience? Check out our overview of operational resilience, and our breakdown of the difference between operational resilience and business continuity.
Defining organizational resilience: attributes you should be striving for
Ever think about the ability of your enterprise to absorb change and adapt to a new environment? Then, you’re reflecting on its organizational resilience, which many of us are being forced to address, given the rapidity of change and increase in business crises.
But how do we know if we have a resilient organization? Well, one way to find out is to survive a crisis – not just absorbing negative impacts and adapting to the change wrought but also continuing to deliver on the objectives that enable firm survival and prosperity. Of course, they’re also controlled tests to ensure organizational resilience that don’t involve going through real-life crises. Resilient entities, despite their differences, tend to have a lot in common.
For one, their senior leadership is committed to enhancing the firm’s organizational resilience capabilities. What’s more, those same senior leaders also understand the general principles that make organizations resilient in the first place.
Common attribues of resilient organizations:
- Behavior aligned with a shared vision and purpose
- Up-to-date understanding of the organization’s context
- Good governance and management
- Support of a diversity of skills, leadership, knowledge, and experience(s)
- Coordination across management disciplines and contributions from technical and scientific areas of expertise
- Effective risk management
Resilient organizations have senior leaders championing organizational resilience
That’s not all. Senior leaders in resilient organizations also proactively promote resilience-enhancing activities. More concretely, they provide adequate resources (and attention) to enhancing the organization’s resilience.
That means finding mechanisms to ensure investments are appropriate to the organization’s internal and external contexts.
Further activities of this kind include developing appropriate governance structures to achieve the effective coordination of organizational resilience activities and investing in systems that support effective implementation of organizational resilience activities and arrangements to evaluate and enhance resilience in support of organizational requirements.
Pursuing effective communications to improve understanding and decision making also counts as resilience-enhancing activities.
Why is organizational resilience important to your business?
Of course, senior leaders don’t pursue resilience-enhancing activities for their own sake. They understand that organizational resilience is important to the business.
Why’s that? Here are the primary reasons why organizational resilience is important to your business:
Enables proactive organizational decision making
Organizational resilience initiatives serve to improve the management of information. Relevant information is made available to decision makers in a timely manner, helping to facilitate proactive decision making.
Helps to control or prevent abrupt disruptions
Proactive decisions are made before incidents occur. As a result of organizational resilience initiatives, then, companies get the benefit of controlling abrupt disruptions – or preventing them altogether.
Accelerates recovery from disruptions
Organizational resilience initiatives help at all stages of the crisis and resilience management life cycles, including the recovery phase. Benefits such as information management, improved collaboration, and better decision making therefore serve the purpose of accelerating recovery when disruptions do occur.
Gives companies a competitive advantage over peers who don’t prioritize organizational resilience
Disruption has become inevitable. Organizations, as such, must choose to prepare for the inevitable or not. Those that don’t pursue organizational resilience strategies for the prevention, management, and recovery from disruption put themselves at a competitive disadvantage.
The role of information management in achieving organizational resilience
Of course, key to deriving these benefits is ensuring that the right information gets to the right people at the right time.
Resilient organizations have this capacity in spades. And often, that’s because they’ve made it a point to share important experiences beforehand. They’ve also ensured that information, knowledge, and learning are all valued, i.e., recognized as critical resources of the organization.
The learnings that undergird this knowledge base have also been extracted from all available sources.
How does that happen?
Well, information in resilient firms is readily accessible, understandable, and adequate to supporting the organization’s core objectives.
Knowledge and information have also been created, retained, and applied through established systems and processes – with those processes including the sharing of relevant information in a timely manner with relevant interested parties and (then) applying it in organizational learning.
Digital technologies to ensure organizational resilience
Within this calculus, digital systems stand out. The only problem is that not all information management systems provide essential data to support organizational resilience activities.
Where resilient organizations excel, though, is that they consider the critical event management software platforms that best promote organizations resilience.
What do these technologies have in common? Key capabilities include:
- Crisis management. Advanced solutions apply best practices to plan for, respond to, and manage critical events and exercises. Built on international standards, such as ISO 22398, the solutions enable faster response, better collaboration using plans and playbooks, smart workflows, and real-time dashboards and insights, ensuring better incident response, decision-making, and continuous improvement.
- Incident response plans and checklists. Best-practice libraries come included do organizations can easily create crisis strategies and action plans for different types of events that define the required strategy, action items, completion time targets, and people involved.
- Welfare checks. The solutions enable organizations to send welfare check messages to their event response staff or any other type of contact. Organizations can easily collect their replies to identify who needs assistance and prioritize follow-up actions.
- Crisis communications. These single systems help organizations manage complex communications, centralizing, approving, and standardizing their crisis response. These solutions provide effective communication pathways for all aspects of incident management.
What’s the difference between organizational resilience and operational resilience?
Digital capabilities for ensuring operational resilience might also be included. But it’s important to note that operational resilience and organizational resilience are distinct fields.
What’s the difference?
Operational resilience deals with initiatives that expand business continuity management programs to focus on the impacts, connected risk appetite, and tolerance levels for disruption of product or service delivery to internal and external stakeholders, e.g., employees, customers, citizens, and partners. For more information on operational resilience, check out this article.
Meanwhile, organizational resilience, as this blog has laid out, entails the ability of your enterprise to absorb change and adapt to a new environment.
As critical as digital technology can be to implementing best practices in either field, organizations looking to become resilient must first understand what the relevant best practices are.
Best practices for Organizational Resilience
What are they for organizational resilience, specifically? Many are collated in ISO 22316, the international best-practice standard for organizational resilience. Download our Executive’s Guide to ISO 22316 to learn all about the standard and how to apply it to your business.