Organizational resilience is the ability of an organisation to respond and adapt in a changing environment.
Resilience is an emergent property of organisations that reflects their ability, capability, and capacity to anticipate and respond to sudden or gradual changes in their internal and external context that expose vulnerabilities that could have material impacts.
Developing and enhancing resilience is strategic enterprise of an organisation, hence it is a relative and dynamic concept rather than a specific activity or fixed state. The factors that enhance an organisation’s resilience are unique to each organisation. Organisations can only be more or less resilient and there is no absolute measure or definitive goal.
Top management commitment to enhance organizational resilience will contribute to:
— an improved capacity to anticipate and respond to threats and opportunities;
— an ability to identify and address vulnerabilities before they have a material impact;
— a more coordinated approach to integrate existing management disciplines that support organizational resilience; and
— a greater understanding of interested parties and dependencies that support strategic goals and objectives.
ISO 22316 - Security and resilience - Organisational resilience - Principles and attributes.
ISO 22316 positions itself as dealing with large impacts arising from slow developments. It is part of the ISO 22300 series of standards addressing societal security, in conjunction with ISO 22301 on Business continuity management which address fast events with large impacts.
The draft final standard (FDIS May 2016) defines a series of principles and attributes and activities (see figure)
Shared purpose and vision
Understanding changing internal and external environment
Effective management and governance
Diversity of skills, leadership, knowledge and experience;
Coordination across management disciplines.
New Zealand Resilience research
The Resilient Organisations research programme (www.resorgs.org.nz) have identified 13 indicators that can be used to assess the resilience of an organisation.
They have defined resilience as “the ability to survive a crisis and thrive in a world of uncertainty” and see resilience as a strategic capability, as being:
The indicators imply the following are required by organisations in order to become more resilient:
Strong leadership that provides (i) good management and decision making during times of crisis, and (ii) as well as continuous evaluation of strategies and work programs against organisational goals.
Business continuity plans
that have on-going development and evaluation processes that develop resilience and manage vulnerabilities;
that develop awareness with the organisation of what any post-incident priorities and operating requirements are, before incident occur;
that ensure that the organisation's resources are sufficient for business continuity, and that extra capacity can be accessed if required.
that are proactive in enabling readiness to respond to early warning signals of vulnerability before its develops into a damaging event or incident.
Organisational resilience is very dependent on staff, they need to be involved and empowered. Staff need the ability, permission, confidence, authority to:
To be able link their work responsibilities with the organisation's resilience goals and values, identifying any issues that affect resilience hence further contributing to the organisations on-going and long-term success;
To be vigilant (an active and on-going behaviour) on organisation’s performance, vulnerabilities that may lead to potential problems;
To be able to provide to organisation leaders both good and bad news including potential vulnerabilities or problems;
To have the appropriate authority to make decisions related to their work with respect to resilience;
To have appropriate delegated authority to enable a crisis response;
To be appreciated and valued, acknowledging where staff specific knowledge adds significant value, or where their involvement will aid implementation;
To be able to use their knowledge and skills in novel, innovative and creative ways to solve new and existing problems.
To appropriately be able to access expert opinions and information when needed;
To be trained for specific and key roles with duplication;
To be able to participate in simulations or scenarios designed to practice response arrangements and validate plans
Understand the critical external relationships the organisation are dependent on or might need to access during a crisis, and undertake planning and management to ensure this access.
Identification and minimisation of divisive social, cultural and behavioural barriers (silos) that create disjointed, disconnected and detrimental ways of working.
adapted from http://www.resorgs.org.nz/what-is-resilience. See also Resilient Organisation Research Report – 2006/04 Building Organisational Resilience, (see resources below).
“A resilient organisation is one that is still able to achieve its core objectives in the face of adversity. This means not only reducing the size and frequency of crises (vulnerability), but also improving the ability and speed of the organisation to manage crises effectively (adaptive capacity). To effectively manage crises, organisations also need to recognise and evolve in response to the complex system within which the organisation”
(from Resilient Organisation Research Report – 2006/04 Building Organisational Resilience)