Over the past twenty years, we have heard more and more about Organizational Resilience. ISO 22316:2017 describes it as an organization’s ability to absorb and adapt to a changing environment to enable it to achieve its goals, survive and thrive.
But organizations do not exist in a vacuum. In fact, they evolve within communities (countries, cities, industries, etc.). In addition, they require the contribution and support of people (manual work, creativity, leadership, etc.) without which organizations cannot function. One must then ask whether it is possible for an organization to be resilient when it exists in a non-resilient community or when it is supported by non-resilient people?
In this article, we’ll explore the different types of resilience and how they can be interconnected. We will also see the growing importance of resilience to ensure prosperity in an ever-changing world.
A multidimensional concept
In the opinion of several experts in the field, organizational resilience must rely on other forms of resilience in order to function fully. According to them, resilience is a multidimensional concept that mainly manifests itself in three forms – organizational, community and personal.
These three forms, while distinct, are deeply interconnected and mutually reinforcing, creating an ecosystem that allows an organization to not only survive disruption, but also thrive in the face of the challenges it encounters.
Organizational resilience enables an organization to anticipate and respond to threats and opportunities arising from sudden or gradual changes, the origin of which is internal or external. Thus, it contributes to the achievement of strategic objectives, to survive and even to prosper, whatever happens.
This kind of resilience results from good business practices and effective management. This can involve several elements including risk management strategies, continuity plans, cybersecurity, robust and flexible systems, legal compliance, and an organizational culture that values and promotes resilience. Improving organizational resilience can even become a strategic organizational goal.
One might think that achieving organizational resilience would largely depend on decisions internal to the organization. However, we believe that organizational resilience cannot be achieved when the organization exists in a community environment that is not resilient. For example, a factory located near a river with a dike poorly maintained by the city.
Similarly, when individuals within the organization are not resilient, they will have difficulty contributing to its success. For example, employees whose salary makes it difficult for them to meet the cost of living in a context of inflation.
Community resilience is the ability of a community to prepare for, respond to, adapt to, and recover from disruptions. This can involve several elements including robust and well-maintained infrastructure, social support systems, community emergency plans and a culture of resilience.
An organization may have sound business continuity plans, but if a natural disaster hits the community and destroys local infrastructure, the organization will inevitably be impacted. We can think of floods, major power outages, forest fires, etc.
The organization can contribute to community resilience by getting involved in community betterment programs through grants, equipment donations, fundraisers, volunteer days, etc., or when responding to events by making resources available to the community (equipment, vehicles, premises, food, essential goods, etc.).
A better understanding of mutual needs and better cooperation could then be created, which would have the effect of increasing the community resilience in which the organization finds itself and, consequently, increasing the resilience of the organization.
Personal resilience refers to an individual’s ability to cope with, adapt to, and recover from the challenges and adversities they encounter in their life. This may involve stress management skills, a positive attitude, the ability to problem solve and make decisions, and a strong support network.
The organization can contribute to personal resilience by adopting a culture that respects the employee (work-family balance, adapted work schedule, adequate salary, benefits programs, etc.) and a safe work environment, both physical and psychological level. Healthy and happy employees can focus better on their work. This has a direct impact on quality, customer satisfaction and profitability.
Resilient employees are therefore essential for a resilient organization, as they are the ones who implement the strategies in order to achieve the objectives of the organization, who adapt the way they work in the face of change and who continue to function effectively in times of crisis. stress or disturbance.
From business continuity to resilience
For many, the concepts of resilience are not yet clear. Resilience is often seen as an optional expense to insure against disruption.
More simply, we can see resilience as a kind of evolution of business continuity. Thus, business continuity concerns the ability of an organization to maintain its essential operations during and after a disruption. This involves having plans and systems in place to manage crises and recover quickly. With business continuity, organizations can significantly reduce the costs associated with business interruptions, such as lost revenue, contractual penalties, and loss of customer trust.
Resilience, on the other hand, goes beyond simply recovering from a disruption. It concerns an organization’s ability to adapt and thrive in the face of change and uncertainty. This involves having a flexible culture, systems and processes that allow the organization to evolve. By investing in resilience, organizations can not only survive challenges, but also seize new opportunities and innovate.
The rise of the Chief Resilience Officer
But who is the “Orchestra conductor” who can set up and maintain the resilience of an organization?
In recent years, a new position has emerged in organizations; the Chief Resilience Officer (CRO). The title is used as part of the “100 Resilient Cities” initiative, sponsored by the Rockefeller Foundation.
This position covers aspects of risk, security, continuity, emergency measures, supply chain, crisis management, governance, health & safety, and many others (see Annex A of ISO 22316:2017).
This person is an essential member of the Top management team and takes part in the strategic decisions of the organization in order to establish and maintain resilience within an organization. The CRO coordinates resilience initiatives, prepares the organization for various disruptions and collaborates with all departments to embed resilience into business practices.
The CRO promotes a culture of personal resilience, ensuring employees are trained in stress management and strengthening internal support networks. He/she also works with the local community to support community resilience, contributing to infrastructure projects and supporting local initiatives.
By embedding resilience into all aspects of the organization, the CRO transforms crises into opportunities, ensuring the organization thrives in an ever-changing world.
The future of resilience
Looking to the future, we can think that resilience will develop and become an essential skill to ensure the sustainability and success of all organizations. Just as business continuity has become a standard requirement in the business world, resilience will most likely follow the same path.
In an increasingly complex and uncertain world, the ability to adapt and thrive in the face of change and adversity is essential. Organizations that are able to demonstrate resilience will be better placed to manage the challenges and seize the opportunities that arise.
In the near future, we can expect organizations to ask their suppliers to demonstrate their resilience, just as they ask today to see their business continuity and data protection capabilities. Resilience will not just be a competitive advantage, but a requirement.
This means that organizations will need to integrate resilience into all aspects of their operation. This goes beyond simply having business continuity or risk management plans in place. This involves creating a culture of resilience, developing flexible systems and processes, and building personal and community resilience.
Resilience is proving to be an essential concept in a world in perpetual motion. By integrating the three facets of resilience – organizational, personal and community – individuals, organizations and communities can not only survive the challenges and disruptions of an uncertain world, but also thrive.
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The French version of this article has been published in Crisis & Résilience