ORGANISATIONAL RESILIENCE a new approach to assessment and improvement planning

Organisational Resilience is many things to many people, and it famously fails to command any real consensus in respect to what it actually is. Trying to measure it, and report on it, can therefore pose quite a challenge.

One of the possible reasons for this is that commentators and contributors are over-thinking the issue. Yes, they know it is a broad concept and they can point to a collection of behaviours and outcomes which appear to suggest some ability to cope with change and uncertainty. They also know that many (apparently) resilient organisations often appear to demonstrate the same core characteristics and that any definition or descriptor needs to be applicable to a range of organisations, both big and small.

The difficulty comes in being able to describe the defining indicators suggested by resilience, and this is influenced of course by the definition being used. For me, any definition for resilience needs to speak to the organisation’s longevity or enduring nature. Second, it requires some recognition of success or achievement. It is also critical that our definition for resilience is not simply event-focused, as this inevitably limits our ambition and leads to a skewed perspective. Assessment of capability needs to take place free from any preoccupation with a crisis or other disruptive event.

I think we are now stronger and more focused – competitive, as we have to be, but also fit for a future which is changing ever-faster. After this period of reshaping, we are now getting back to growth - Bob Dudley, CEO of BP (2017)

The Organisational Resilience Capability Model®️ (ORCM) reflects these requirements and encourages a multi-dimensional approach to the study of resilience. It is independent of the type, significance or velocity of challenges being faced by the organisation. It can be applied equally well regardless of organisational size, complexity or operating model and is also capable of demonstrating significant flexibility, in that novel ideas or references utilised in other assessment models can be included or highlighted. The ORCM is therefore applicable within both regulated and non-regulated environments, and can be employed across large, complex organisations just as successfully as within small start-ups or community-based projects.

Through assessment, either undertaken in-house or with external consultancy support, application of the model can help practitioners develop an in-depth understanding of resilience within the context of their own organisation. In doing so, the model also provides the structures necessary to engage with senior management and the Board in developing meaningful and effective strategies for achieving greater resilience.

Firstly, the model focuses first upon influencing factors in order to provide the basis upon which the organisation can undertake a detailed assessment and develop a best-fit approach. These factors reflect the key features and characteristics associated with the organisation - measures of its fundamental health and fitness. Common components of the organisation's feature set include skills, data security, compliance, safety performance, access to funding, product development and brand loyalty.

Secondly, the model is summarised by reference to resilience outcomes and those behaviours which sit behind them - decision making, capacity to flex and willingness to learn. Rather than assuming that certain outcomes or behaviours are necessarily more important or appropriate than others, assessment will allow the organisation to focus on making informed decisions about the resilience stance it wishes to take.

Crucially, the model also captures detail of the context within which the organisation operates - its regulatory environment, supply options, market volatility and the availability of mutual aid, for example. The interconnectedness of organisations and of the communities within which they are set is of much deeper significance to resilience capability than simply the ability to cooperate during an emergency.

The model allows the current contribution and/or maturity of each resilience element to be presented within the context of an overall ‘score’, and for the interplay of individual aspects of organisational activity and performance to be examined. The model drives the action planning process for organisations by highlighting the known improvement and development capacity of each defining feature and the contribution of each behavioural element. It also serves to expose the organisation's risk reality - potential gap or disconnect

Resilience is neither an abstract concept nor something which lacks an obvious pathway from theory through to practical application. Resilience capabilities are eminently measurable and must therefore lend themselves to assessment and comparison.

Organisational resilience in an increasingly complex and rapidly changing world requires a sophisticated, intuitive and agile assessment approach. The notion of simply 'bouncing back' should no longer be allowed to limit our ambitions for resilience. This is not an event-focused concept, but is a function of how successful organisations are at managing strategic risks - it is about the organisation’s strength, competitiveness, re-shaping and growth.

Our services include consultancy support for organisations seeking to undertake an assessment of resilience capability, and our course programme is designed to give assurance professionals, risk managers, emergency planners and resilience and business continuity practitioners a recognised qualification, as well as access to a structured methodology and framework that will allow them to conduct detailed assessments and report on resilience capability at an organisation-wide level.