What is business resilience?

Posted by Ben Whittacker-Cook on 23/02/2021 10:30:00 AM

You’ve probably got a good idea about your personal definition of resilience, and how much of it you have. To many, ‘resilience’ is tenacity, toughness, grit, fortitude – anything that indicates a positive response to a challenge in any aspect of your life.

Resilience blog

That’s never been truer than in 2021, and after the past 18 months we’ve had, now’s a great time to alter your thinking about the ‘R’ word. For now, let’s call it your, and your businesses’, ‘capacity to absorb stress, recover critical functionality, and thrive in altered circumstances.’ (HBR) 

More and more organisations are making resilience an integral part of individual employee wellbeing, such as Xero’s The Check In, which provides small business leaders with simple and straightforward actions on how to introduce wellbeing into the workplace.

Business vs employee resilience 

However, employee resilience is very different from business resilience. The most successful owners and leaders use resilience to adapt and then thrive, by making smart businesses decisions in response to crisis situations to make their organisation stronger.

They view resilience as an opportunity to not only respect and care for their teams but grow through change and develop talents and opportunities for others to build robust organisational practices which give them a competitive edge.

Implementing one, five or ten-year planning-cycles, training and upskilling managers to respond to IT risk, strengthening or reconfiguring supply chains, and adopting digital strategies to best tap into changing customer behaviours all indicate remarkable resilience.

Here’s HBR again on this nuanced definition of resilience; ‘Increasingly, managers are finding that it stems from the ‘second-order’ organizational capabilities that foster rapid adaptation. Instead of being really good at doing some particular thing, companies must be really good at learning how to do new things.’

Moreover; ‘companies’ experiments with creating new post-pandemic operations models are yielding some interesting results. Digital platforms are allowing some companies to share skills across operations, providing support in ways that were very difficult before,’ states McKinsey’s ‘The emerging resilients: Achieving escape velocity’, 2020.

Building your resilience team

‘The same approach is also allowing workers to enjoy more opportunities while creating an effective post pandemic operating model that solves the need for speed and rapid decision- making. These are the next-horizon powers that will drive productivity and propel the emerging resilients into the next wave of growth.’

Experts believe the key to being business resilience is flexibility, primarily because there are many moving parts in every organisation, and some of these parts are more flexible than others and require more attention.

Identify those sectors within your business and think about developing a crisis management team within your organisation. It’s a simple and cost-effective way to identify any weak spots in the business and reinforce them as a result.

Resilience breeds trust and brand affinity

That sounds quite dramatic, but empowering your resilience team to make and implement decisions quickly will save a lot of stress in the future. And if the whole idea of developing a resilience plan through a resilience team is alien, then consider checking in with your network and business community to find out what they do.

According to EY, there are some further unexpected advantages to building a resilience plan. The crisis scenario is dynamic and impossible to predict; however, an informed response could build trust and brand affinity with your customers. To make this happen, it suggests:

  • Engaging staff in a consistent dialogue about actions you are taking to protect and support them

  • Engaging with suppliers to properly pinpoint the most material risk exposures and jointly defining mitigations

  • Keeping customers and wider external stakeholder groups informed and promoting confidence in your business resilience through clear and consistent messaging

For advice on resilience, business ownership and leadership,check out more of our blogs.

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Topics: Business Strategy & Planning, The Icehouse, Resilience, Xero, Wellbeing, Business Purpose, Business Resilience