Organisational Resilience

Author: Michael Cook 

Resilience is a multifaceted, multidimensional concept. Resilience is not new and has its origins in determining the capacity of nations and states to weather change and adversity. Within the national and state consideration the concept has been extended to “critical infrastructure” such as power, water and telecommunications and essential services.

The next evolution has been to extend the concept of resilience to organisations to help address the “disruption” organisations are experiencing in today’s world.

The Holy Grail for organisations is creating and retaining market position, profitability and brand value in the face of known and unknown disruptions. If you are successful in maintaining your existence and expected performance over time (short and long term) then you are resilient.

The rise of the Sharing Economy

One of the biggest disruptions in the marketplace today is the rise and rise of the “sharing economy”. Born out of the economic crisis of 2008, the sharing economy started with a reconstituted value assessment and a level of distrust of older brands and models. People were already high users of social media (mostly on mobiles), and this combined with increased urban density with abundance of re-usable resources, has created opportunities to hire and lend.

Uber, Airbnb and Lending Club are just some of the cases of collaborative consumption where internet-based reputation and app-enabled communities are replacing individual ownership by shared access. This sharing economy has generated revenue in excess of $3B globally, and is expanding at a rate of 25% per year, forcing organisations to re-evaluate their competitiveness, market position and sustainability – their resilience.

Change and Disruption

At the organisational level resilience is the capacity of an organisation, the individuals and systems that comprise the organisation to respond positively to:

  • Change
  • Challenge
  • Stress, or
  • Adversity

in order to adapt and sustain competitiveness and remain viable within uncertain environments.

Survival amidst a sea of failure

Organisational resilience is about understanding how your organisation will respond to disruptive events and survive when others fail. Most organisations have business continuity and/or disaster recovery plans but unless these plans can be intuitively applied during fast moving crisis the plans will not be effective. Organisation resilience is about cultivating a culture to support organisational adaption during turbulent times.

Business Aspect contends that the key dimensions of resilience are:

  • Leadership and culture
  • Networks and partnerships, and
  • Change readiness across people, processes and technology

Within the leadership and culture dimension, resilient leaders possess a “learning” mindset rather than a “performance” mindset. They prepare the “what if” as individuals and organisationally. They are optimistic and create a “can-do” atmosphere that takes failures and turns them into positive learning experiences to drive a resilient organisational culture. Research also indicates that there is a high correlation between CEO tenure and organisational resilience.

Resilience in a connected ecosystem

In the networks and partnerships dimension, the resilience of an organisation is directly related to the resilience of the other organisations on which it depends (for example its supply chain, the customers, workforce, and even competitors). An organisation's resilience is also directly related to the resilience of its market sector, and the sector's resilience is intertwined with the resilience of the state and nation.

Change readiness

Change readiness to support resilience is multi-dimensional in that the people drivers are staff empowerment, responsibility and accountability and engagement in a learning organisation. This has to be coupled with strategic planning capacity and robust, redundant systems from both a process and technology perspective.


For more information about how Business Aspect can help you with your organisation resilience, please contact us.  We can provide:
  • Resilience assessments
  • Resilience planning (which links closely with and is a component of corporate strategy)
  • Implementation/delivery (with possible leadership development and/or executive mentoring),
  • Post implementation reviews