Resilience Thinking – It’s when not if.

 The shape of change The recent and rapid evolution of our high streets in the UK and main street USA have been a very visible sign of change which few will have missed. Resilience thinking helps business leaders understand what that change will look like for their...

Decision making on the shifting sands of the facts.

Facts can change. The foundation of any good decision should be the facts, so how should we build a fact based culture in a business?

Is our personal resilience at risk from hyper-connectivity ?

Personal resilience is more important today than it ever was. Providing inner strength, it helps us to go with the flow and bounce back from adversity. More than a buzzword, personal resilience can be learned and contribute real advantages in situations which disrupt...

Demographic change, a slo-mo disruption?

Staff are the core of any business, without them we all might as well shut up shop and go home. However across many economies, organisations are struggling to recruit and retain staff against multiple headwinds of demographic change which are global in nature but local in impact.

Risk forecasting, mirage or science?

How to move from Risk Forecasting to Resilience Thinking. There are known knowns. These are things we know that we know. There are known unknowns. That is to say, there are things that we know we don’t know. But there are also unknown unknowns. There are things we don’t know we don’t know.

Adaptive capability and making a drama out of a crisis.

How can an organisation build adaptive capability to improve it’s resilience. Strategies including product-as-a-service, agile manufacturing, mutual support, and Auftragstaktik can contribute to preparations for disruption to give an organisation the ability to survive and create new opportunity.

How community resilience can build resilient organisations

Building community resilience is one concrete way we can create a more resilient organisation. By preparing ahead of disruption, communities and the organisations they contain can resist disruption, respond effectively and make positive changes as a result.

Disruptions usually start small and look insignificant.

A 20-20 rear view of disruption and electric vehicle charging. Disruptions are often seen as bad, to be avoided and minimised, resilience is about more than just weathering disruption but seeing it as an opportunity

3 Lessons in Business Resilience from Easter Island

3 Lessons for business resilience from Easter Island. Will we continue to optimise today without considering the future and continue blindly with business as usual? Or will we learn the lessons of maintaining outward views, incentivising the correct decisions and creating sustainable innovation strategies to build resilience into our organisations?

Resilience 101. Sustain, thrive and grow your organisation.

We believe organisation’s must be resilient to survive and be sucessful. How? By building strength, resilience capability and taking advantage from disruption.  In today’s world it’s a strategic imperative.

Adaptive capability and making a drama out of a crisis.

The complexity of today’s business environment frequently means we fail to make connections which may improve our organisations resilience by creating adaptive capability. A personal incident however often throws these connections into sharper relief allowing us to re-examine them in a different light. Last week our boiler at home failed its annual service, for some this would spell disaster, perhaps sadly for me, it was an opportunity to think about adaptive capacity.

Creating the right sort of capability

The boiler in question supplies both the hot water and heating to our home and in Scotland both elements are still very much in demand in April. So how was the impending disaster averted? A mix of measures turned the failure into an inconvenience;

  • Being aware of the boilers inherent complexity and our reliance on it, meant we had a full parts and service contract already in place with a specialist provider.
  • We had alternative means of heating via newly refurbished open fireplace and freestanding electric heaters.
  • We were able to use the shower in a neighbouring property.
  • Our dishwasher uses a cold feed water supply, and our kitchen utensils are all dishwasher proof.

All of these measures meant we had built in adaptive capacity to an essential service. So when we were told that the relevant parts were on order and could be fitted within a day or two, it was no great drama. Each of these measures has a cost which needs to be weighed carefully, but if put in place in advance is frequently insignificant and brings other benefits. By getting the boiler serviced annually it reduces my fuel bills, having an open fireplace means in extremis we can go ‘off-grid’ entirely and reduces the size of heating system we need for really cold weather saving the capex of a larger system. By knowing our neighbours it was easy to ask to take a shower prior to my client meeting and by making smart purchase decisions on kitchen utensils as they were renewed I no longer need to spend time at the sink!

But surely this can’t work in organisations?

Or can it? Now I started thinking of examples of how you can include the right adaptive capabilities into any organisation and indeed create some new opportunities.

  • Creating or using a product-as-a-service rather than a traditional purchase or lease model. Rolls Royce has created a new business model which provides aircraft engine use as a service rather than purchase as a commodity by providing maintenance, energy efficiency and replacement parts much the same way as my boiler for what is a vastly more complex machine.
  • Diversifying of supply chain partnerships or reconfigurable production methods using agile manufacturing techniques used by Benetton and Primark. These give the ability to respond more effectively to disruption and more importantly customer demands for the latest trend or value added bespoke product lines.
  • Mutual support agreements such as overhead power line workers in the power sector to allow response to an extreme event or via intermediaries such as trade associations. Often trade associations give advance warning of disruption as they see a broader picture of markets and provide a non-adversarial forum. One conversation I had with a competitor at my trade association was around a problem they were experiencing with materials behaviour following formulation changes due to legislative changes which banned lead in electrical components in the UK.
  • Consider how to configure teams, departments and operating units to allow for islanding during disruption, where they know the objectives and carry on independently while the new ‘normal’ is established. This mission command or Auftragstaktik approach created by the Prussians is still used by the military today especially special forces and by the retailer Walmart in response to Hurricane Katrina described in the Checklist Manifesto by Atul Gwande.

Prior preparation of adaptive capability is the key takeaway.

What is clear to me is that to prevent disruption becoming a crisis, prior preparation is required to build adaptive capability. It’s not just a narrow view but one that covers all aspects of an organisation and its operating environment, and its likely to be a combination of approaches. Resilience is all about preparing for unknown disruptions and creating opportunities from them. I certainly expect to see more organisations take resilience thinking into their strategic planning by actively making choices and not be forced into ineffective and costly kneejerk responses. Those businesses that ignore it are less likely to survive while those who embrace it will create new competitive advantage.

Further Reading;

Gwande, A., 2011. The Checklist Manifesto. Profile.


The author, Paul Hancock is a Resilience Consultant at 360 Resilience Ltd.



Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Public Sector Resilience

Customised Programs

For government, professional associations, not-for-profit and public service organisations

Contact us to discuss your needs

Strategic Resilience

Team Resilience

Bespoke programmes

Share This