Remember, resilience isn’t a (naturally) emergent property of growing businesses. Strategise!
In the modern world, organisational resilience is imperative for long-term success. But what exactly is resilience? What makes an organisation resilient? And what steps can you take today to start building greater resilience in your organisation?
Defining Organisational Resilience
Organisational resilience is the capacity for an organisation to resist disruptive events and threats to its existence. If an organisation is capable of anticipating, making preparations for, and responding to incremental or sudden changes in its environment, it can hypothetically persist for decades – even if it must adapt to do so.
This feature is important because the future is unpredictable. Your business may be thriving today, but a single Black Swan event or a change to your competitive conditions could quickly reverse your momentum – unless your organisation is resilient enough to work past this.
Developing Organisational Resilience
How do you develop organisational resilience?
Most organisations aren’t resilient by default. Instead, you’ll need to build your resilience from the ground up. Hiring a keynote speaker for building resilience and engaging in workshops and company exercises is a great place to start; experienced professionals can help everyone in your organisation better understand the nature of resilience and why it’s important to develop. They can also give you educational materials, training exercises, and in many cases, one-on-one coaching to foster greater resilience from the ground up.
Other than that, resilience is something you need to continuously analyse and develop. Promote your most resilient employees. Pursue new strategic initiatives that increase your resilience. Identify and cut vulnerabilities that threaten your resilience.
So what are the qualities of a resilient organisation?
Flexibility and adaptability. One of the most important qualities for resilience is flexibility. Your business conditions aren't going to remain the same for very long; you'll face new competitors, an evolving target market, changing prices, and rapidly advancing technology. If your business isn't willing to grow and adapt to these changing conditions, its failure is inevitable. You need to be prepared to make major changes whenever necessary so that your business can pivot and continue to thrive.
Diversified streams of revenue. Investors commonly tout the importance of diversifying your investment portfolio. For organisations, it's similarly important to diversify your streams of revenue. If you have multiple sources of revenue, a single disruption to one source of revenue will never bankrupt you. For some organisations, this means offering many different products and services; for others, it means generating side income through advertising, donations, or other channels.
Stable growth patterns. If your organisation grows too quickly, it may become unstable, causing you to haemorrhage money and lose the consistency of your organisational culture. If it grows too slowly, you'll cede ground to your competitors and compromise your ability to spend your way out of certain problems. Instead, you need stable, consistent growth patterns.
Unity and consistency. Resilient organisations benefit from unity and consistency. That doesn't mean everyone in your organisation thinks and feels the same; it just means that you're unified in a similar overall philosophy or set of core values. If your organisation is constantly pulled in many different directions, due to philosophical differences of leaders within it, all it takes is one small threat to lead to your collapse.
Strong leadership. Organisations also benefit from strong leaders at the top. Ideally, your leaders will showcase values that lead to stronger, more resilient organisations. They'll be transparent, adaptable, open to growth in new directions, and in line with all your organisation's core values. If this is the case, and your leaders earn the respect of your employees, it's only a matter of time before all your employees embody these qualities as well.
Entrepreneurial employees. You should also empower your individual employees to exhibit the qualities of successful, innovative entrepreneurs. Instead of being mindless automatons who execute tasks, they should be creative thinkers who are constantly looking for novel ways to solve existing problems. This way, your organisation can develop better ideas and new directions from the ground up.
Backup plans. Finally, resilient organisations are ones with many layers of backup plans. If your primary strategy for generating revenue fails, or if it becomes threatened by external circumstances, what's your plan? Can you give it to a different demographic or sell something different? How quickly can you adapt the business model? If there are specific threats you’re concerned with (such as a specific competitor or a global economic event), you should have a documented plan for how to handle each of them.
Note that most of these qualities apply on both a macro and micro level. Your organisation must be flexible and adaptable; similarly, each individual employee within your organisation must be flexible and adaptable.
Toward a More Resilient Organisation
Remember, resilience isn’t a naturally emergent property of growing businesses. Instead, it's something that you must intentionally develop. If you want your organisation to thrive for as long as possible, and remain standing in the face of hardship and a changing business landscape, you need to deliberately strategise to make your organisation more resilient.
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