The resilient organization
If you search the internet for information on what makes organisations resilient, you will find a considerable amount of information on how to survive physical threats - having disaster recovery plans to deal with calamities such as fires, natural disasters such as floods and earthquakes, or attacks by terrorists. Organisations have also come to recognise that protecting their technological systems is vitally important, so we have resilient data storage, resilient computing and resilient computer networks. These are all necessary aspects of creating a resilient organisation, but they are only part of the picture - the organisations that are disappearing at the present moment are not doing so because of physical damage, but because they failed to respond to the rapidly changing social environment - disruptive technological change, more agile competition, changing expectations from customers. In the Resilience Programme we are interested in what it is that helps people in organisations respond more effectively to changes in the social environment - what is it that makes businesses psychologically resilient?
The following list checklist has been culled from various sources - partly from the resilience listerature and partly from our own experiences:
- Individuals feel able to express themselves, their concerns and their suggestions, with an expectation of being listened to.
- Difficulties are addressed quickly, they are not covered up or allowed to fester. Problems are seen as opportunities to deepen understanding and to grow.
- People are not afraid to try something new, because taking the risk of making a mistake is seen as acceptable in the organisation.
- Authority is delegated down as far as possible, and individuals given support and training to rise to the challenge.
- Waste, losses and leakage are reduced to the minimum, bearing in mind that it is not only energy and raw materials that can be wasted. Wasting peoples time, knowledge and expertise is a far more serious loss.
- Encourage the generation of a continual stream of new ideas. The best ones should be tested, the others kept circulating as fertiliser for the creative process.
- Encourage constant improvement through small changes
- Create a culture of constant learning, both from external sources and by getting individuals to share their expertise. Encourage all members of the organisation to teach others what they know and do well.
- There should be no barriers to information sharing. Building empires by controlling the access to information prevents the organisation being flexible and responding to new challenges.
- The concept of "it's not my job" should be eliminated.
- Technology is exploited to the utmost, as demonstrated by some of the world's most successful organisations such as Google, Amazon, Apple and Microsoft. Technology should not be used to replace people, but it can take on routine tasks thereby freeing them up to unlock their creativity.
- Market leaders such as those mentioned above are actively exploring how computers can be used to scan the digital environment for threats and opportunities. They do this by trawling through the vast quantities of data that flow through social networks, news feeds and websites looking for patterns that are relevant to their businesses. Artificial intelligence programmes examine and consense the information down to manageable proportions that is meaningful to humans.
- Build alliances with other like-minded organisations - reduce the focus on competition and work towards collaboration and synergy.
- Build a model of the organisation so that people know where they stand. The organisation chart is not a good model - there are better ones available.Keep checking and refining the model so that it reflects reality, and make it a working tool for testing out possible scenarios.