Rethinking for greater organisational resilience

The organisation that you work for has a purpose; the reason for its existence and the ‘why’ for your actions and efforts. A recognition of the ongoing economic and social turbulence flowing from amongst others; the pandemic, Brexit, and the impact of climate change, should provide an opportunity to reflect on how you and your colleagues can be hindered in delivering to this purpose by external and internal challenges, and the impact that this has on all of those working for and with your organisation.

Today, you may at times feel that your ability to deliver to your purpose is threatened like never before; you may feel ‘buffeted’ or ‘knocked off course’ by challenges or by failing to properly grasp opportunities. By building and maintaining organisational resilience, your organisation will be able to move beyond having been ‘robust’ through its recent actions; responding (bouncing with) and recovering (bouncing back), by enhancing its ‘anti-fragility’ to grow and emerge stronger (bouncing forward). 

Organisational resilience refers to the capacity for continuous improvement that is attentive to the human factors. Each of our lived experiences in the past year have been different; the impact of the changes that have occurred are individual and in conjunction with the diversity of all our life experiences, these must be taken into consideration to consciously ‘bounce forward’. 

Organisational resilience is founded on an active absorptive capacity comprised of 3 interdependent key elements. Firstly, on continual vigilance, of both the internal and external environment; this facilitates being better able to ‘see’. To ‘see’ for understanding, more and faster, and to ‘see’ beyond what is currently known or known for certain. This ‘seeing’ should form part of the organisation’s core operational processes. The development of an anticipatory futures literacy; the ability to actively use the future in the present, is critical to developing organisational and systemic anti-fragility.

Secondly, active anticipation is having the capacity and capability to respond to what is seen; to be able to take action. It is the development and maintenance of the dynamic capabilities that allow the reorganisation of resources to best meet a challenge or realise an opportunity.

Thirdly, An organisation that shows strong levels of resilience is not simply a collection of resilient individuals. There is a virtuous circle connecting the breadth and depth of the ‘Seeing’ and ‘Doing’ activity advocated and coordinated by leaders, and the levels of trust felt by the organisation’s people both in the leaders and in each other. This functional and relational trust is nurtured both by the vibrancy of individual connections and how central all feel to the achievement of purpose. Stronger organisational resilience is founded on establishing the right environment, climate and dynamic capabilities that are the conditions for a successful implementation of change. An organisation or system will have achieved the right balance between managing current business and exploring the future; it will be ambidextrous, linking activity in both spheres.

In summary, greater organisational resilience is drawn from 3 ‘nested sources’:

Oneself (Me); your intrinsic resilience capacity is built on or inhibited by…

Your immediate team and it’s leadership (You) which in turn is enhanced or weakened by…

The collective organisation working within a culture promoted by its Senior leadership (Us).

By Matthew Payne

Working to make the most of the resources available to others to enable them to be more successful. Using facilitative leadership and process management to get things done, and really make a difference! Engaging with individuals and teams in both the public and private sectors.

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