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On Stranger Tides

Updated: Jan 15, 2020

​​"An organisation's ability to absorb and adapt in a changing environment". That's the definition of Organisational Resilience given by Professor Wolfgang H Mahr, and times they sure are a-changing! You don't have to be a thrill-seeker to seek out challenging conditions; they're here for all of us. We're all in the same boat, trying to survive a storm at sea. Yet a business that has anticipated issues affecting continuity and responds effectively has better odds, not only of surviving...but thriving!

The ISO 22316 - Security & Resilience - Operational Resilience build upon the foundations of the standards for Business Continuity, Information Security and Incident Management. Where once a firm wiped its brow having endured troubled waters, it could soon find itself high and dry as another wave hits. Because the only thing certain in this period of uncertainty is that more waves are on the horizon. We're experiencing an acceleration of change not seen since the Industrial Revolution of the 19th Century. This technological transformation has been labelled the Fourth Industrial Revolution and is instrumental in the increased frequency of disruptions affecting us all.

Whether its external factors like socio-economical fluctuations, political upheavals, ecological imbalances etc, or incidents closer to home, e.g. needing to develop our own digital capabilities, resilience allows us to quickly recover. Professor Mahr at describes, "the concept of resilience is nothing new. Mother Nature has applied these principles for quite some time. For long-term stability and growth, we must develop our ability to adapt." Lessons can be learned when we study the experiences from every incident and Mother Nature is more than happy to school us; responding to environmental factors like geothermal expansion, ocean acidification and the imbalance of ecosystems to name just a few. With extreme weather events impacting communities all over the globe, Sainsbury's have been focusing on the resilience of their supply chain, especially fair trade producers of some of our best-loved products. "Seasonal rains on which farmers have depended for countless generations are failing - arriving at the wrong time; or raining too much, or too little" explains Judith Batchelar - Director of Sainsbury's Brand. Working with leading standards expert SAI Global, they have developed a new risk management framework called The Sainsbury’s Sustainability Standards. Integral to its strategic goals, Sainsbury's are investing in preventative controls, mindful action, performance optimisation and adaptive innovation. In their Empowering Our Farmers report, Judith elaborates "As one producer commented: "We need someone to tell us what to plant and when, because the weather doesn’t tell us anymore". This ambitious programme supports our farmers in meeting these challenges - developing their skillset to build resilient businesses and improve the quality of life for their communities."

SAI Global's many clients resonate from an assortment of industries, experiencing a variety of impacts even if the disrupting factors may show some similarities. Proactive leaders understand that a robust risk management framework can unlock new insights and opportunities. One Mortgage and Protection client engaged SAI Global when implementing Incident Management software, required for its legal compliance responsibilities. The client had anticipated the benefits of digitising this once manual and time-consuming process (i.e. centralising records adhering to data regulations, standardisation of decision-making principles for fairness and transparency, increasing case handling efficiency to consistently achieve deadlines etc). The client hadn't foreseen that digitalisation would open up new opportunities, with accurate data available for evaluation, they were able to track consumer trends, performance analytics and identify the gaps in service expectations along with gaps in competency. Their findings then shaped the business strategy, investing in the development of its people and its products in order to satisfy the changing needs of its customers.

Here's the thing, when a business converts to digitalisation, with increasing reliance on artificial intelligence, machine learning, chatbots etc, one instinct of management is to throw the deadweight overboard. With a surplus of people no longer needed for to maintain manual processes, short-term savings can be made at the cost of losing some staff. But with the loss of experienced people comes a loss of experience. It's obvious really, yet near-sighted managers repeatedly make the error of assuming in the event of an emergency, anyone can man the ship?!? Not knowing what to expect or who is at the helm, it's likely they jump ship in a bid to 'Save Yourselves!!'. This outdated way of thinking is addressed in the Principles, Attributes and Activities of ISO 22316. People are pivotal to building organisational resilience and this spare capacity can be better utilised developing Mindful Actions. Imagine what results could be achieved if we replaced 'hard working teams' with 'smart working teams'? Consider what consumer needs or service enhancements might be acknowledged and acted upon if our people were encouraged to take the time feeding back these observations and offering new perspectives of the problems faced? Contemplate the possibilities of cross-departmental collaboration, empowering our people to ask challenging questions, seek creative solutions, while embracing continuous improvement and professional development..? if this seems as achievable as ice skating on Atlantis, then batten down the hatches because your next disruptive event will seriously rock the boat!

In their 2014 study, the BSI Group in partnership with the Economist Intelligence Unit, surveyed industry leaders from across the globe, assessing their attitudes and opinions about business resilience. Only a third of the participating CEOs expressed confidence in their organisation's ability to survive long term! Howard Kerr of the BSI Group explains in his introduction, "We have commissioned one of the world’s foremost management schools to address the capability gaps identified in this study, consolidating 50 years of management theory into a single report. Striving for excellence requires business leaders to challenge complacency, promote vigilance and embrace the need for continual improvement. This report reveals that many organisations are instead sleepwalking to disaster through complacency of processes and practice. ‘Waiting out a storm’ is no longer an option. Rather, leaders must face the paradox of embracing risk if they are to succeed. Doing so requires them to prepare their businesses to react to threats as opportunities, adapting to survive and prosper."

50 years of management thinking in just 7 minutes. BSI and Cranfield School of Management explain the latest thinking on Organisational Resilience

The Principles, Attributes and Activities of the new standards encourage a Diversity of Skills, not the usual suspects: Risk & Compliance specialists working in siloes; nor the Senior Leadership Team huddled away in the boardroom. Diversity of Skills needn't just be from within the organisation, reach out across peer networks for a 360° view of potential threats and possible opportunities that could impact industries indiscriminately. The majority of efforts should be dedicated to horizon-scanning, strategising priority actions and practising responses to disruptive scenarios long before an event occurs. Everyone on board should understand the part they play and the value they add to the organisation's shared strategy; increasing engagement, reducing complacency and promoting business confidence . Even if it's smooth-sailing ahead, all stakeholders trust that the journey will offer new insights and interesting observations along the way.

BSI's 4Sight framework together with other methodologies like Agile, Gemba Kaizen and Lean emphasise the importance of learning the lessons for continual development. Insights should be shared, issues should be embraced and innovative ideas should always be followed up.

Detailed within the BSI Group's Organisational Report, a case study explores how a leading tech services provider is empowering its people to change their business model. Recognising that the lifecycle of its 'pure services model' is reaching its end, Deepak Padaki - Executive Vice President of Corporate Strategy and Chief Risk Officer at Infosys explains “We are reaching out across the company to every one of our 200,000 people, making them aware that change is in the air...and that each of them are our change agents". Where once factory-like efficiency was King, where each year a conveyor belt of 25,000 undergraduates would quickly be assimilated into the process of standardisation, homogeneity, and high productivity. Difference was barely acknowledged let alone celebrated and many good people left not able to see how they could affect change; labour turnover was clearly a problem. "We once had a lot of labour risks, safety risks, facilities risks, immigration risks and all kinds of employee-related risks” Deepak continues. "In the past, we relied on policies, procedures, enforcement and accountability to manage risk; but now resilience is developed through collaboration and agile working practices. Engagement levels are high and this approach has significantly reduced our attrition rate!"

The ISO 22316 - Security & Resilience - Operational Resilience standards make it easier to weather the storm, without worrying about keeping afloat. Make efforts to stay shipshape and Bristol fashion, future-proofing your business for the journey ahead.

Bon voyage!

PS: Speaking of noticing and responding, how many nautical references were made in this week's post? Answer in the comments below :)

What is Imagimont? 

I'm Jo, a Freelance Learning Experience Designer at Imagimont Ltd.  With a creative flair and commitment to engagement, I manage development projects that align to the organisation’s culture, values and business strategy. Partnering with internal stakeholders and external providers, I deliver blended learning resources fully accessible using multimedia at the point of need. My commercial awareness, UK Regulatory Compliance expertise and 10 years’ experience as a People Development Specialist ensure that learning initiatives evolve as quickly as service expectations.

Click here to find out more. 

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