Today’s world is volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous (VUCA). In such an environment, future planning is difficult, if not impossible. As a result, organisations are increasingly focusing on becoming resilient; that is, to be able to anticipate, adapt and respond both to incremental and sudden changes or disruptions.
“But while many organisations are starting to understand what these three components of organisational resilience are, few understand the need to integrate them in order to ensure resilience is actually achieved,” says Philippa Chappell, manager: advisory services, ContinuitySA. “Even fewer understand how to structure this collaboration.”
The challenge is that while each of the three components of organisational resilience is critical, they are typically the responsibility of different role-players. The anticipate component, which involves scoping the threat landscape and putting a risk strategy in place, is handled by the enterprise risk management department. Adapt, which focuses on operational resilience, would be governed by the COO and the business units concerned. Response is addressed by the business continuity manager and covered by the business continuity plan.
In dealing with any threat, it is vital that each of these areas works closely with the others. For example, in the case of a cyber-attack, it is vital that the organisation knows what cyber risks it faces: What confidential information and intellectual property are held in the systems, and what controls are in place?
It would be necessary for the risk management team to collaborate with IT in this case, and the results of its work would inform the actions taken by the operations team. The latter would have to consider the vulnerabilities and identify any single points of failure, such as central legacy system on which all other systems depend. It would also have to put contingency plans in place in the event of an attack.
Clearly, for maximum organisational resilience, these role-players must collaborate across the whole process. There are four key levers to drive better collaboration:
• Align each component with relevant international standards and best practices. Each of these three areas will have ISO or similar standards. Aligning to them will ensure that their information and processes are not contradictory.
• Create an integrated management structure. Typically, each of the three areas will be governed by a separate board or executive committee. It is critical that some way be found of coordinating these committees. Cross-membership is one way, or alternatively a central committee could be established.
• Develop a corporate culture of organisational resilience. If the organisation as a whole understands what organisational resilience is, and why it is so important, the various component programs will really begin to gain traction.
• Use technology wisely and innovatively. Many technologies can be used to improve both how each program is managed, and in a crisis itself. As regards program management, enterprise resource planners, SharePoint and OneDrive can drive workflows, while newer technologies like Office 365, Slack and Yammer are designed to drive collaboration. When it comes to responding to a crisis, widely used programs like What’s App can be invaluable. Facebook has a crisis response feature, and insurance companies offer emergency alert apps.
In addition, leading business continuity providers like ContinuitySA are bringing business continuity apps to the market in order to make business continuity plans immediately accessible and more user-friendly.
Organisational resilience is the key to sustainability in a VUCA world, and collaboration is the key to building it effectively.
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