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  • What is Organisational Resilience?

    “A business continuity and disaster recovery plan are essential to show organisational readiness in times of crises”

What is Organisational Resilience?

“A business continuity and disaster recovery plan are essential to show organisational readiness in times of crises”

Organisational resilience is the organisation’s ability to “bounce back” after suffering trauma, loss or disruption. Traditionally, organisations rely on individual leadership to show resilience in a time of adversity and in most cases, organisational survival and success is closely correlated to leadership capability. However, even the most successful leaders have a resilience threshold – a boundary where “enough is enough”. Thus, organisations should have mechanisms in place to lessen the burden of survival on leaders in times of adversity.

A business continuity and disaster recovery plan are essential to show organisational readiness in times of crises. In our experience, these well-intentioned plans are seldom extensively tested, rarely well-communicated and often make for good bedtime reading for those struggling to fall asleep. Which is why organisations should start exploring alternative ways in which resilience can be built.

What does the resilient organisation look like?

Any crisis management approach followed in the beginning of a disaster or disruption to business continuity needs to be replaced with a sustainable mechanism to continually manage the growing list of unexpected challenges organisations will keep facing on a regular basis. They will be subject to changes in legislation, regulation and elements much wider that were previously under their control. Organisations that aim to recover and rebuild, need to become comfortable in a world of uncertainty.

A framework developed on the principles of practicality, ease of implementation and adaptable to size, industry and environment is essential.

Below are the six traits and characteristics of a resilient organisation.


Sense of Control:

Decisions based on real-time, accurate and readily available information.  No one running around trying to figure out what is real and what is fake. Staff receive the same unambiguous message.


Goal Orientated:

Capacity to make and ability to carry out realistic plans. Employees know the plans; feel empowered to accomplish them and know their role in fulfilling them. Goals as SMART; all realities have been considered; options include innovative and flexible solutions; task division is clear.

Strong Social Connections:

A clearly communicated and visible practice of the organisational “why”. Having strong connections to staff, peers, clients, suppliers, regulators, legislators and the community. There is a strong sense of measurable trust.

Strong Problem-Solving Skills:

Active scenario planning. Encouragement of innovation and brain-storming activities. Culture where there is no fear of failure and deadlines are more relaxed (Creativity can’t flourish under pressure).

Asks for help:

Engagement with and involvement of staff, peers, clients, suppliers, regulators, legislators and the community. Transparency and vulnerability in communication with an honest intent of seeking and offering assistance.

Survivor mentality:

Viewing change as a challenge or opportunity and having confidence in your strengths and abilities. Positive and energising organisational communication aligned to positive and energising interaction with environment. 



How does an organisation become resilient?

In examining the six characteristics of organisational resilience, and by asking “what is required?” we see that there is a trend in the elements needed at a foundational level. There are three basic requirements for each of the above. without which the development and measurement of resilience cannot take place.

Three foundational elements enable organisational resilience:



  • Accurate and up to date
  • Available for access
  • Adhering to confidentiality and integrity standards
  • Form field validation applied
  • Industry, Regulatory, Competition, Customer, Workforce

Systems and Processes: Agile and adaptable to enable

  • Financial analysis (clients, suppliers and cash flow)
  • Regulatory change analysis
  • Workforce planning
  • Scenario planning (clients, suppliers and cash flow information)
  • Effective communication (message sent = message received)


  • Organisational transparency (workforce, suppliers, clients, community)
  • A workforce committed to attaining results (engaged and empowered)
  • Environments free of judgement and allowance to speak freely
  • Culture of experimentation (no fear of failure)
  • An honest intent of seeking and helping

A new matrix for measuring organisational resilience

BDO’s matrix for measuring the requirements of organisational resilience is based on the above elements of organisational resilience.

Leadership and strategic resilience

Strategy can be defined as the steps we take in order to achieve something. It is typically broken up into short- and longer-term objectives, and execution is dependent on different units in the organisation. A leader’s role is to ensure that everyone is on the same page in terms of what the organisation wants to achieve.

Purpose is defined as the reason for why the organisation exists. It reflects the motivations for doing the work that they do. Organisations use their purpose with their core values to define what they believe and what they stand for. While your organisation’s purpose may remain unaffected by a crisis, the ways in which you fulfill that purpose would, in most cases, change.

To enable the fulfillment of purpose, you need capital (funding, money, investment); processes and systems; technology and resources in the form of products, services and people. Each of these elements could be severely impacted by a crisis such as the outbreak a global pandemic.

Organisations, regardless of size or structure, can build planned and adaptive resilience capabilities. Resilience reflects how an organisation accesses and uses resources when it needs them. You can build these elements into your business by evaluating them in terms of data, systems and processes and trust.