As a veteran corporate director and turnaround executive, I have seen many management teams proudly detail their risk management protocols while unable to discuss their approach to recovery should the risks enumerated occur.
In a study conducted by the Ponemon Institute for IBM, only 17 percent of the more than 2,300 business continuity specialists surveyed said their organization had a formal strategy for business continuity.
As a Harvard Business Review article put it, “Surprises are the New Normal; Resilience is the New Norm”. It is hard to ignore the seeming increase of unexpected events.
What does business resilience mean?
IBM, a leader in the discipline, defines it as “The ability of business operations to rapidly adapt or respond to internal or external dynamic changes – opportunities, demands, disruptions or threats – and continue operations with limited impact to the business.”
Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein says that business resilience demands an “ongoing commitment by the entire organization to be self-aware, to be open to change and to learn the right lessons from recent experiences. Going forward, we know we will inevitably make mistakes, but we commit to learn from them and respond in a way that meets the high expectations of our clients, shareholders, other stakeholders, regulators and the broader public”.
Why do so few organizations focus on business continuity?
First, management and owners likely believe that resilience planning has been covered.
Second, the responsibilities are tucked into different parts of the organization and invisible to the top of the organization.
Third, executives may feel that the skills involved are strictly technical ones and thus properly delegated to the technology function.
How to better incorporate business resilience planning into the organization?
- Start with strategy.
- Designate a high level sponsor for resilience planning needs, and create a centralized decision making body at the top executive or board level.
- Review the organization’s current situation regarding resilience and develop an enterprise wide set of plans
- Understand your resources and emphasize execution.
Why focus on resilience?
Dean Becker, CEO of Adaptiv Learning Systems, offers a great rallying cry: “More than education, more than experience, more than training, a person’s level of resilience will determine who succeeds and who fails. That’s true in the cancer ward, it’s true in the Olympics, and it’s true in the boardroom.”