Unit4 (credit image/Pexels/Fox)How resilient is your organisation? This is a key question poised in a white paper published by Unit4. ‘Organisational Resilience: Why it matters and how to improve it’ aims to help support enterprises’ readiness, reliability and flexibility. Unit 4 suggests enabling them to turn risks into opportunities and evolve weaknesses into strengths. To achieve organisational resilience, the report urges businesses to nurture their people and take advantage of technology to implement and truly prepare for change.

The report suggests that before the Covid pandemic, business leaders believed organisational resilience related more to operational business continuity. What happens if IT systems fail (disaster recovery), and the office is forced to close due to fire, travel disruption due to strikes or weather (business continuity)? However, the scope acknowledges that organisational resilience is far wider.

A report from the World Economic Forum published last year defined organisational resilience as spanning five dimensions:

  • Strategic resilience is the ability to respond to changes in the environment in which the business operates, whether political, economic, social, technical, environmental or legal.
  • Operational resilience enables an organisation to identify and react in the event of an incident that affects areas such as talent, operations, business continuity and supply chain.
  • Financial resilience is how prepared an organisation is regarding financial health and processes.
  • Organisational (Cultural) resilience is how ready the organisation’s culture, workforce and structure is to manage disruption.
  • Social resilience recognises the impact on the community in which the organisation operates. These dimensions allow organisational to understand what initiatives they can undertake to improve.

Building organisational resilience

To be resilient, organisations need to be able to anticipate, prepare for, respond, and adapt to both incremental change and sudden disruptions to survive and prosper. A single source of real-time data is essential for timely, informed decision-making and driving innovation.

The report highlights industry research that:

  • 79% of business leaders say legacy systems are a barrier to innovations
  • 88% of finance leaders don’t have the tools they need to automate repetitive tasks
  • 66% of organisations do not have the data they need at their fingertips

As a result, outdated, legacy ERP systems that can’t automate time-consuming, manual processes can hinder an organisation’s progress. Furthermore, it can weaken its ability to adapt and recover.

Enterprises are encouraged to cultivate talent with the right skills essential for resilience and flexibility. Automation, simplification, and data visibility are also vital activities to giving employees visibility on an organisation’s business. People spend 1/3 of their time on admin.

49% of respondents in a recent McKinsey survey believe tech innovation will have the greatest impact in the next 20 years. The report suggests increasing resilience can deliver short-term gains, such as reducing costs, by increasing efficiency.

For an organisation to become resilient, it must collaborate internally and externally with all stakeholders. Finally, resilience is underpinned by strong leadership that helps set the organisation’s culture so that it does not become too defensive or take too many risks.

Moving organisational resilience higher the corporate agenda

(credit image/Unit4/Mike Ettling)
Mike Ettling, CEO at Unit4.

We commissioned this white paper, analysing expert commentary on this topic, because we believe organisational resilience must move higher up the agenda on every board.” says Mike Ettling, CEO at Unit4.

For a long time, many of the countries in South America, Africa and Asia have been described as – at best – ’emerging’ or ‘low to middle income economies.’ However, we are now witnessing what has the potential to be one of the most exciting and challenging transformations to the global economy since the second world war.”

According to Ettling, the economic growth taking place in these countries will “create exciting market opportunities. However, it will require ‘Partnerships, supply chains and deep understanding of a diverse range of markets. However, it will also create new competitors.” Ettling asks “Will your organisation have the resilience to thrive in these market dynamics?”

Enterprise Times: What this means for business.

This is an interesting and thought-provoking white paper. The Covid-19 pandemic proved a catalyst for interest in organisational resilience. All enterprises were suddenly confronted by an unprecedented event that affected every business stakeholder.

Business leaders sought ways to make their organisations reliable and innovative. They needed to find the balance between surviving and thriving. Organisational resilience has always been important. However, the pandemic and events since have shown that firms need to be ready for any challenge. Those firms with mature organisational resilience survived the disruption brought about by COVID-19 better than others.

Business leaders should not forget that while organisational resilience may be top of mind now. In the face of a global economic crisis, they cannot afford to let it slip. While black swan events are rare, a resilient organisation is better equipped to overcome smaller, more frequent challenges.


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