How resilience underpins sustainable business value


Question: Why is resilience so important at every level of organisation?

Answer: Because change impacts every level of the organisation and is becoming increasingly volatile and unpredictable.

Why sustainable value hinges on versatility and resilience.

That organisations and employees (careers) alike are increasingly being impacted by the competitive forces shaped by globalisation, technological change and industry disruption is nothing new.

Change is not new. What is new, however, is the accelerating pace and unpredictability of change, turbocharged by the addition of technological innovation and globalisation to the mix.

These changes are no more acutely by felt than by the CEOs and their leadership teams as they attempt to meet the ever-increasing demands placed on them by their stakeholders to meet their organisation’s strategic targets.

Achieving the goal of having all executives, managers and staff play nicely together for the good of the organisation and its customers is for the most part, a real struggle for most, if not all, organisations.

Past success = tomorrow’s straight-jacket?

Many established organisations build an intrinsic resistance to change over time, and this resistance often lies at the heart of why effecting meaningful change at an organisational level is always a challenge.

This reluctance to change is reinforced through repeating past managerial and leadership behaviours and practices that have contributed to its current success. Additionally, the codification of organisational knowledge and business process into policies, procedures and work practices, not to mention ensuring compliance to external relatively rigid audit and certification standards, all contribute to organisational inertia and inflexibility.

The challenge facing established organisations when faced with an increasingly competitive, changeable and demanding environment is how to rise above it.

Research has shown that there is a direct relationship between the depth of corporate social capital and organisational value.

The ability to identify, harness and project this corporate social capital to your organisation’s customers and markets are likely to be a critical success factor for the long term survival of your organisation in  a changing environment.

Versatile individuals and leaders underpin organisational resilience

Individuals make up teams. Teams make up organisations. Versatile individuals make up versatile teams. Versatile teams lead to versatile organisations. Versatile organisations are more likely to adapt to, and adopt change without losing value. That underpins sustainable resilience.

The key challenge facing leaders in organisations is to optimally harness the full potential of their organisation’s social capital – something that is not easily achieved in our rapidly changing world.

Industry research as also shown that maintaining  employee engagement is a key measure of the health of your organisation’s social capital, and one that remains a challenge for the organisation’s leaders.

Individual and team versatility contributes to good employee resilience and engagement, as change is seen as a potential opportunity rather than a threat.

The power of the scenario – it’s not rocket science

How best to test, develop and maintain both individual and team versatility?

A good starting point is to consider taking others on the journey – some call this a thought experiment or Gedankenexperiment (from German). This considers some scenario, hypothesis, theory or principle for the purpose of thinking through its consequences.   The concept of the thought experiment had its origins in Quantum Physics, where the technologies to conduct actual experiments did (or do not) exist.

Simply put – try these following steps to test the power of the scenario in helping you build team and organisational versatility and resilience:

  • Step 1: Proposed a likely or possible scenario. Examples could be:  “We have just had a budget cut of 30%”, “We have just had a major data breach, which may threaten our business”.
  • Step 2: As a team, work through the possible responses, countermeasures and consequences of a range of steps that could be taken as if this situation has actually occurred in a structured way. The key to this process is to seek evidence to support any assumptions made as part of this process.
  • Step 3:  Evaluate the feasible or likely end results of the range of responses.
  • Step 4:  For each result, what would or can you do to now to ensure that the desired outcome is assured?

Unleash the power of the scenario to build team and organisational versatility

The real value in applying this simple process lies in not only being able to anticipate and plan for change, by taking others on a journey.

As a leader, by taking others on the journey (as a group of individuals – across or within teams) you will expose everyone to the process of systematically playing scenarios forward as a learning opportunity, and in doing so help to develop a broader perspective of the issues at hand.

Without this broader perspective of the interaction between the range of influences and effects, individuals and leaders will lack the ability to work across and through the entrenched organisational silos. This which will help perpetuate the rigid inflexibility that is the real barrier to change.  Responding to this change will determine the ultimate success of the individuals and organisations alike.

How’s that for a scenario?