A growing topic in contemporary business discussions is organizational resilience.  While there are many definitions of resilience, it can be characterized as an organization’s ability to effectively absorb, and rapidly respond to, unforeseen and disruptive market, economic, and social events while maintaining financial health, team engagement, and competitive advantage. The recent Corona crises is a striking example of an unforeseen event with multiple implications and challenges.

Not all organizations will succeed in becoming resilient. In fact, two organizations within the same industry, of the same size, possessing similar financial health, and in the same markets can achieve widely varying degrees of resilience. It is of value, therefore, to identify what are the characteristics of organizations that achieve a high-level of resilience. On examination, we discover that the synergy of agile processes, forward thinking leadership, and effective strategic execution are key essential differentiators. In fact, all three of these characteristics must be engaged simultaneously to create a powerful Resilience Dynamic.

Agile Processes

A closer look at agile processes reveals the following attributes that are present in resilient organizations, and include:

  • Establishment of “structured flexibility.” In other words, all processes have built in mechanisms that can rapidly be adjusted, creating a balance between structure and flexibility
  • Process improvement is an ongoing initiative
  • Decision making is supported by mechanisms that allows for rapid implementation

Forward Thinking Leadership

Organizations that achieve a high degree of resilience are characterized by leaders who possess the following attributes:

  • They understand the importance of preparing the organization for change by enrolling the team in the change process
  • They understand the need for equipping employees with a high-level of business acumen and financial literacy, resulting in informed decision making at all levels of the organization
  • They create a culture that encourages cross-functional teams to elicit the best ideas, shared responsibility, and ownership
  • They have a keen awareness that in times of turbulence, empowerment of all team members is essential, and it is integrated into the culture
  • They inspire the team by being candid, open, and encouraging

It is important to note that not all competent leaders will succeed in creating the  Resilience Dynamic within their organizations. The skills and attributes of successful leaders during prosperous times are not identical to the skills and attributes needed to meet and overcome high-impact unforeseen events and challenges. Leaders who place an over reliance of command-and-control and inflexible processes will often fail to make the adjustments needed.

Strategic Execution

Virtually all leaders will agree that the greatest challenge of strategic success is not the development of the strategic plan; Rather, it is the execution of it. Therefore, those organizations that reflect the following attributes will succeed in creating the Resilience Dynamic:

  • Marketing is constantly looking for shifts in market changes, buyer preferences, and emerging new markets, and have the mechanisms needed to pivot quickly to those changes. While disruptive events are potential threats, they also present opportunities to gain a competitive advantage
  • They constantly evaluate their value propositions to reflect potential changes in buying criteria, enabling them to continue to deliver a high degree of customer value
  • Strategic plans include “what if” scenarios

Achieving The Resilience Dynamic

While identifying the characteristics of the resilient organization is critical, the over-arching challenge is how do organizations attain it. Simply put, one does not train or teach resilience itself because resilience is the result of underlying practices, attributes, and competencies . Therefore, enlightened organizations focus on enhancing the skills and competencies that result in resilience. Some of these include:

  • Change management
  • Agile thinking
  • Effective use of cross functional teams
  • Business acumen and financial literacy
  • Strategic execution and flexible planning
  • Market agility and competitive intelligence
  • Delegation

Of course, there are more. However, the key is to recognize that the Resilience Dynamic is a result of enhanced competencies and practices that must be engaged simultaneously to attain maximum success and synergies.

Jay Jacobson serves as Managing Director of Celemi Americas. Celemi is a global training and leadership development professional services firm with offices in the United States, Sweden, and China.  For more information, go to www.Celemi.com

Read more about resilience here: https://celemi.com/resilience-focus/