Clive Weston is a specialist consultant with 40 years of experience in the Organisation Development and Human Resources fields. He is a Chartered Fellow of CIPD and an IoD Mentor. Clive is co-founder of MorenOE Ltd, who developed ESP Pro, an Organisational Effectiveness diagnostics tool for business leaders.
Here, he talks to Business Leader about how leaders can best respond to these challenging times.
‘Organisational Resilience’ is now a major focus for leadership teams preparing for a positive return after lockdown – what is it, how do you get it and how do you leverage it to deliver competitive advantage in the new ‘normal’?
What is Organisational Resilience?
According to Cranfield University, Organisational Resilience is the ability of an organisation to anticipate, prepare for, respond and adapt to incremental change and sudden disruptions in order to survive and prosper (2017).
Organisations that are well run are usually able to anticipate, prepare, respond and adapt. There are exceptions of course and F2F business are obviously going to struggle with Covid-19 restrictions.
How do you get Organisational Resilience?
Organisations need to work on 3 fundamental enablers (leadership, process, people) if they want to deliver on those four verbs (anticipate, prepare, respond and adapt) and achieve Organisational Resilience.
Developing and improving the 3 enablers are huge subjects in their own right – changing a culture is extremely difficult to do, process improvement takes time and employee engagement is the ‘pot of gold’ for highly stressed businesses. But if you really want it, it can be achieved once you’ve analysed where you are and planned where you want to go.
This starts in the boardroom of course. Is this leadership team strong and courageous enough to identify the problem areas and make the changes needed to create the culture to move forward? To do that involves spending much less of their time in their offices, on their devices and in meeting rooms and more time with their workforce helping them to succeed – ‘generals on the battlefield and not in the tent’, especially in times of major change!
You then have to take business process mapping and deployment seriously – processes to raise customer expectation (R&D, Sales & Marketing), processes to deliver on those expectations (Operations, Customer Service; Support) and processes to manage your business including of course future Business Continuity Planning and the accelerated use of technology.
3. Employee Engagement
And finally the building of a workforce who want to work for you because they are committed to your cause, because they are led by leaders and not managers, because they are trained and encouraged to ‘own’ their jobs and deploy discretionary effort and because they feel that just rewards and recognition will follow when they do. Possibly even tougher after the Covid-19 furlough experience?
How do you leverage it?
The three enablers of Organisational Resilience are also your primary source of competitive advantage and the leading guru on this subject is Prof Michael Porter at Harvard Business School.
Studying Porters’ work indicates that building a competitive strategy is about identifying what makes you special and unique and blowing your trumpet to your market until they hear it and come to you.
Analysis of the 3 enablers above will help to support a re-evaluation of your competitive advantage moving forwards and provide clarity on what marketing messages (internally and externally) are going to have most impact.
There are many tools and templates available to activate the key analysis required before taking action. Our own 11-point checklist is developed from many years on the coalface. Whatever you use, it’s critical to establish which key strengths to build on, and to identify which barriers to progress are most limiting. You will have your own preferences of whether this can be done in-house or through a specialist consultant.
A good starting point now!
As working towards world-class status across all 3 enablers is a project of long duration, but assessing where you are now is possible now, and key to guiding the board addenda and providing focus.
As a special offer to the readership of Business Leader, Clive Weston would be very pleased to respond to any enquiries about this article or requests for further advice about Organisational Resilience. He can be contacted by email at firstname.lastname@example.org