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From Being Crisis Ready to Being Resilient – Future Proofing the Organization

Organisations that were more ‘resilient’ have shown that it is possible to continue business and even grow, during a crisis, writes Praveen Rikhy in an exclusive article for SMEStreet on the contemporary topic of resilience for organizations.

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By Praveen Rikhy

As companies slowly emerge out of the pandemic crisis, it is also time to assess the true potential of resilience management and harness it to future-proof your Company against future shocks. Organisations that were more ‘resilient’ have shown that it is possible to continue business and even grow, during a crisis. Business leaders recognized that their crisis contingency plans were instrumental in managing to keep the company afloat the last 2 years. However, they are also recognising the factors that enabled organisations to “hit the ground running” was more than only crisis management.  It was the resilience of a few managers, who took risks, took decisions on the fly and found solutions to the multifarious problems that the global pandemic posed.

McKinsey recently supported the Federation of European Risk Management Associations (FERMA) on a comprehensive survey about the pandemic’s impact on corporate resilience. The survey revealed that most risk managers (75 percent) believe that the most important actions will be to improve risk culture and strengthen the integration of resilience in the strategy process.

So how does one do that within the confines of day to day running of the business? With major global challenges still lurking on the horizon, from the challenge posed by the war in Europe, the climate change impacts, supply chain disruptions, threat of economic recession, now it is all the more necessary to move out of a reactive, ‘crisis’ response mode and integrate risk management with other core functions on a more permanent basis. One needs to build Resilience Planning into your Company’s DNA.

Very few companies have adopted a comprehensive strategic planning to overcome the challenges of the next disruption lurking over the horizon, whatever that may be. Yet this is what organizations will need to do to survive. The idea is to inculcate proactive planning and being prepared for the worst at all times – being elastic is the new buzzword. It goes beyond being a reactive, crisis ready. To build resilience into their long-term strategic decision making, organizations need to develop certain cross-functional capabilities and strengthen resilience in all strategic areas of business operations. The eminent authors of the Mckinsey report referred to above highlighted the need succulently,  “The holistic approach to building resilience advances the organization from a narrow focus on risk, controls, governance, and reporting to a longer-term strategic view of the total environment”. 

This obviously means that the solutions will come from the employees on the ground – organisations therefore need to start involving on-the-ground employees in their strategic planning.  This is easier said than done. The first step is to recognise the core resilience plans that need to be in place – these can broadly be grouped into Financial Resilience Planning, Operational Resilience Planning, Technological Resilience Planning and Reputational Resilience Planning.  These plans need to be drawn up at the business function level. The top management needs to remain focused on evolving the “resilient” organisation, as most times it is easy to get caught in the day-to-day running of the business, especially if the gap between crises is long. Therefore, the entire organisation has to work in tandem and work consistently.

Like corporate strategy, risk and resilience strategy requires a strong business and market perspective, a risk mindset, and interdisciplinary thinking – this naturally means better intra-organisation communications and cross-functional planning. Therefore the best function in the organisation to drive this program would be the corp comm team in close coordination with the office of the CEO – this will ensure a holistic cross organisational approach which is critical to the success of the program. The corp. comm. department perhaps is the only department that has all the necessary skills sets required to run this program – the cross function reach, ability to document and articulate corporate policy, the capability to organise think-tank sessions and also will ensure that the critical communications, both internal and external, remains controlled and effective.

The starting point would be to draw up resilience plans for each function of the Company and understand the ‘impact’ of disruptions on other business functions and the overall impact.  Each Management function needs to draw up it’s own manual and out-line steps to be taken in case of disruption on any of the critical “dependencies”.  Once the dependencies have been identified, get the employees to go the next step – the help draw-up contingency and fall-back options.  These need to be captured in black and white in a manual and reviewed every quarter to an assessment of any change in external environment. These functional plans form the base of the pyramid.  The organisational Resilience Manual will be an amalgamation of these plans.

From this will also emerge your critical resilience team – the key people in your organisation who will ensure that the Company structure doesn’t go into in shock and waste critical days as a result of any forecastable crisis. Get this team talking to each other on a regular basis.  Run ‘crisis simulation workshops’ with them. Capture the solutions that emerge. Recognise and reward these functional team leaders. And once you have the resilience planning in your company charted out, start encouraging your “resilience team” to start the process of enabling resilience in their functional stakeholders.  Not only will this hone the skills of your team, it will help your supplies and partners act as shock absorbers when the next crisis hits.

Praveen Rikhy
Praveen Rikhy

About the Author

Praveen Rikhy is Chief Consultant at PR Square Consultants. In her 3 decade long career, Praveen has consulted major national and international Companies, brands, Governments and NGOs to enhance market reach, introduce revolutionary concepts, raise funds and awareness, and manage crisis. She will be happy to work with your corp comm. to get them started in building your Corporate Resilience Program.

SMEStreet Edit Desk

SMEStreet Edit Desk is a small group of excited and motivated journalists and editors who are committed to building MSME ecosystem through valuable information and knowledge spread.

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