Resilience is Key to Your Organisation’s Survival

Leaders everywhere are grappling with how to ensure their organisations adapt to the relentless change, disruption and uncertainty that are part of ‘the new normal’.

 

While agility is seen as the cure for just about everything, Professor Julian Birkinshaw, London Business School, points out that ‘agile’ rhymes with ‘fragile’. Agility, he says, is not enough to withstand wide-scale disruption; organisations must be resilient.

So, what is organisational resilience? We see it as the capacity to absorb shocks and adapt to changing circumstances while everyone continues to work together in a purposeful and connected way. ‘Everyone’ is the keyword. An organisation will not operate without its people fired up and ready to go.

Fragile organisations easily become disconnected as a result of heavy-handed restructuring or a haphazard crisis response. The result can overload people and challenge everyone’s personal resilience – including those you want to deliver the change. When an organisation becomes disconnected, employees adopt a bunker mentality and go into survival mode. Collaboration flies out the window, delivering frontline services is the stuff of nightmares, safety is less of a priority and innovation is something you read about in business magazines – and you can forget about discretionary effort!

Julian Birkinshaw presents four shifts that put people at the centre to create a more resilient organisation. These shifts are:

  • Bureaucracy to emergence: move away from rigid rules and plans to a lighter way of engaging people and coordinating employees’ efforts
  • Formalisation to personalisation: empower your teams so decisions are made by the people at the coalface
  • Efficiency to reliability: get your people involved in designing built-in buffers to cope with all the different scenarios your organisation may face
  • Profitability to meaning: refocus on purpose over pure profit. Purpose creates meaning and keeps people focused on sustainable outcomes.

What do you see in your organisation? Is it resilient enough to be able to rapidly adapt to a changing world through this pandemic and beyond?

Links to webinars on Organisation Resilience: 

https://www.london.edu/think/how-to-shockproof-your-company

https://www.sharedvalue.org/resilience reimagined

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