At ResilienceFoundry we understand resilience as the capacity to return to homeostasis or stability after disruption or some kind. The ability to withstand the impact of events without sustaining any damage is more like invulnerability. For an organisation, resilience would be demonstrated by recovery from an act of terrorism, an environmental or natural disaster, from an economic crisis, recession or depression, or from damage to the company’s reputation arising for example from a fault in a product.
Even the briefest survey of literature available on the subject of Organisational Resilience will tell you that there is no one clear definition of the term. Like personal resilience, Organisational Resilience means different things to different people.
For example, if we measure resilience in terms of how long a company is able to survive, we find that responding with flexibility to a changing marketplace is key. The history of typewriter companies is a good example of this as only companies who embraced new computer technologies survived. Time magazine’s article “10 companies that radically transformed their businesses.” Shows companies who remain successful apparently as a result of their willingness to change.
Other definitions are available. For example:
The British Standards Institution offers a toolkit for achieving the British Organizational Resilience standard through which your organisation will achieve:
- strategic adaptability,
- agile leadership and
- robust governance
You can buy their guidance for £112 (or £56 if you are a BSI member). This will enable you to achieve BS 65000 which “defines organisational resilience as the ability to anticipate, prepare for, respond and adapt to events – both sudden shocks and gradual change. That means being adaptable, competitive, agile and robust”.
The white paper this organisation have produced is available for free, and certainly provides a clearer idea of what their understanding of Organisational Resilience includes.
The Australian Government have their own Organisational Resilience website and their resources are free. They also identify 3 headings for developing Organisational Resilience:
- Leadership and culture
- Networks and partnerships
- Change readiness
They provide free resources based on 13 indicators of resilience.
Some of the science is dubious. For example: “In some adversity management centres tabards or identification bibs are used to denote a person’s role. Research into sports teams shows that once a team puts on their jerseys the body releases low levels of Oxytocin. The Oxytocin increases the desire of team members to assist in achieving each other’s objectives.” The research referred to is not referenced and the distance – from members of a sports team who presumably regularly train together and wear a jersey in the team colours, to employees in a team who are expected by management to wear a tabard – is not acknowledged as a bit of a stretch. The critical requirement of science: demonstrating a causal relationship in linked phenomena is avoided. When I was young I worked behind a counter selling refreshments in a cinema. Every evening when I came to work I put on my tabard and I never experienced any release of oxytocin, even though I got along fine with the other people I worked with, who also wore a tabard.
The range and variety of free resources here is generous and there is much here to value, so we will provide further reviews later.
The New Zealand Resilient Organisations Research Programme website provides further insight into the development of the Australian resources. As an organisation they carry out research and provide training and resources. They are the authors of many of the resources on the Australian Government website and also offer a range of free resources and articles, as well as books for sale.
The 3 areas and 13 indicators used by the Australians seem to originate from their research and they offer support to organisations who might wish to examine themselves in order to determine their own potential for resilience.
Much of their research has been focussed on the experience of organisations recovering from the Canterbury earthquakes.
Given the scope and scale of resources available, this website will focus on reviewing rather than providing resources on the subject of Organisational Resilience.