Developing Organisational Resilience in Turbulent Times

Unexpected crises and disruptions seem to be happening more and more frequently in today’s interconnected world. In the last few years alone, we have dealt with a global pandemic, economic recessions, cybersecurity threats, climate change events, and major supply chain issues. With volatility and uncertainty becoming the new normal, developing resilience has become a crucial capability for organisations seeking to survive and thrive.  

As a manager, you play a pivotal role in crisis and risk management for your company. The decisions you make before, during, and after disruptions can have a significant impact on how well your organisation adapts and responds. That’s why intentional planning, clear policies, and steady leadership are key.

Scenario Planning — Envisioning Possible Disruptions

One of the most important ways managers can build resilience is by investing time upfront imagining potential crises relevant to their business. Scenario planning brings together leadership teams to brainstorm various “what-if” situations that could plausibly impact operations—from natural disasters to cyber attacks to supply chain disruptions and more. The goal is to vividly walk through these scenarios, defining specifics like:

  • What potential events or triggers could we realistically encounter? How severe could they be?
  • Which business areas and continuity priorities would be impacted? Which operations are mission-critical?
  • What would some worst-case scenario damages or consequences look like across key areas like people, facilities, technology, suppliers, and customers?  
  • What contingency plans or crisis responses could mitigate the most severe impacts? What action steps should leaders take right away if various events happen?

Thoughtfully working through multiple scenarios, even unlikely ones, equips organisations to respond quickly and decisively when the need inevitably arises. It allows people to envision threats more clearly and process them emotionally long before they occur. Teams can then identify critical continuity needs proactively instead of reacting in the middle of chaos and confusion. 

The output of scenario planning includes key continuity priorities to inform business impact analysis, contingency policies, digitisation efforts, insurance, infrastructure redundancy, etc. Discussion also builds relationships and alignment among leadership so that swift coordinated action comes naturally. Practicing simulated responses even helps create organisational muscle memory. 

With so much benefit and so little downside, making time regularly for scenario envisioning pays dividends when crises inevitably strike. It’s one key way successful enterprise build vigilant, resilient cultures ready to handle significant disruptions.

Well-defined continuity and incident response policies also improve resilience by clarifying roles, responsibilities, and standard operating procedures. Make sure these are formally documented yet flexible enough to handle unexpected situations. Keep policies current with regular reviews and disaster recovery tests.  

Navigating the Aftermath and Building Back Better

The decisions and actions taken after a major business disruption can determine how quickly your organisation recovers and gets back to normal operations. But the aftermath period remains a vulnerable time with its own set of challenges to manage.

First, don’t declare victory too early. Monitor key areas like safety issues, essential technology systems, supply deliveries, product quality checks, personnel wellbeing and more in the hours and days following an incident. Remain in an elevated state of alert to spot any secondary crisis triggers or areas of increasing risk. 

In particular, keep a close eye on business health factors like cash flow, cybersecurity vulnerabilities, pending orders and deliveries, customer retention efforts and personnel morale. Enlist your Finance, IT, Ops and HR leaders to flag potential problematic areas or emerging bottlenecks early while there is still time to respond.

Once the initial incident is fully contained, thoroughly assess the damage, document details and collect input from affected teams. Conducting “post-mortem” analyses is enormously helpful for capturing institutional learning and highlighting gaps to inform future continuity planning. 

Bring staff together to reflect on what response efforts went well and why. Celebrate organisational wins like effective remote work transitions, rapid decision making, customer assurance communication, or safe shelter-in-place protocols. Also explore where the biggest difficulties emerged – technical failures, policy confusion, shortage of supplies or resources, lagging communication, etc. Probe to understand root causes, not just symptoms.

Compiling key findings and recommendations in an After Action Report will enable valuable organisational learning for dealing with future incidents. Review and revise policies, procedures, systems and training accordingly. Apply lessons learned to expand risk scenarios and continuity plans. 

By investing time in post-crisis assessment and learning, managers can make their organisation more crisis-ready while also demonstrating responsiveness to staff needs – a hallmark of resilient leadership. The goal is to build back better so your enterprise emerges healthier and more robust after adversity.

Managing the aftermath of a disruption also determines how fast your organisation can return to normal. Be cautious of business risks like cash flow issues or cyber vulnerabilities. Once the initial incident is contained, assess damage, seek feedback, and capture learnings for the next event. Reflect on wins and gaps – then refine your continuity plans accordingly.  

With intentional preparation, vigilant monitoring, and steady responses, companies can turn threats into opportunities to shine. Build your organisational immunity now before the next storm hits!

The key is being proactive with contingency planning while also showing resilient leadership during times of crisis. With planning, transparency and adaptability, managers can develop crisis-ready cultures ready to thrive in turbulent times.