The Resilient Organization

How to thrive in the face of uncertainty


The Resilient Organization

How to thrive in the face of uncertainty

The past two years have demonstrated that organizations need to be more resilient in facing all risks, not just global pandemics. It involves embracing uncertainty with purpose – and building a reimagined strategy for resilience.

The disruption of the last two years has taught us the importance of cross-functional strategic resilience and early intervention. Companies that possessed the foresight to imagine the uncertainties ahead and who took a proactive and holistic approach to building resilience were better positioned to withstand the effects of the pandemic.

The key words here are proactive and holistic. The reality is that, historically, risk has often been managed in silos within specific verticals and functions. What the global crisis demonstrated to many CEOs and their boards was that they needed to create a much broader and more integrated approach across corporate functions that, in the past, had not worked closely together. This forced organizations to think more holistically about resilience, and at the organizational level, interlinking some of the key pillars of resilience such as financial, operational and reputational resilience. 

These pillars are not the only aspects to consider. Executives and their boards will need to recognize their organization’s resilience is tightly interlinked to a wider hierarchy of resilience.

When disruptions are ever present, organizations need the ability to respond to and recover from unforeseen challenges to get back to thriving. This resilience has become a key organizational attribute—and a skillset. Here’s how to learn it and leverage it.

Resilience is not a destination; it is a way of being. A “resilient organization” is not one that is simply able to return to where it left off before the pandemic crisis. Rather, the truly resilient organization is one that has transformed, having built the attitudes, beliefs, agility, and structures into its DNA that enable it to not just recover to where it was, but arch forward and above the challenge —quickly and effectively.

To help our clients overcome the challenge, we advocate important mindset shifts that resilient leaders and their organizations must embrace to turn their organization’s focus from responding and recovering, to thriving – along 5 pivots:

The situation pivots from a tenuous interim normal to actively pursuing a better normal. Leaders must therefore chart their organization’s strategic destination as it emerges into the outlook of thriving. The leadership attitude shifts from reinventing ways of doing business in the interim to a pioneering character, one in which you focus on inspiring and empowering the team to follow you. ​​ To steer towards thriving, organizations need to shift their focus from internal and market-facing, into: market-making. Leaders must lead a transformation of focus in their organizations to determine how they can better contribute to the evolution in existing markets and identify emerging markets to venture into. ​​ ​Planning shifts from medium-term scenarios that ensure financial and operational viability to true, longer-term strategic visioning—methodically designing and embarking on the journey to the destination of thriving. ​Management shifts from sustaining or surviving to building the resiliency and agility to return to business as unusual.

Resilient organizations plan and invest for disruption, and can adapt, endure, and rebound quickly in a way that enable them to not only to succeed in its aftermath, but also to lead the way to a “ better normal”.

Ask yourself these questions: 

  • • Do I have a clear view of what financial, operational, and reputational resilience means for my organization? 
  • • Is my organization prepared, both operationally and financially, for another public emergency or crisis?
  • • Is my infrastructure and service-provider ecosystem agile and ready for a variety of different events? 
  • • Am I aware of how changing market dynamics and evolving public views may affect my organization and its reputation? 
  • • Does the culture of my organization support resilience, in terms of both dealing with disruptive shocks (continuity) and adapting to economic,
      political, or cultural changes (adaptive capacity)? 
  • • Does my company stand for a purpose that stakeholders can believe in and support? 
  • • Am I currently taking a pro- active and holistic approach to building organizational resilience and managing risk?

Based on our conversations with Deloitte’s clients and client-serving executives around the globe, we’ve found that the vast majority of organizational needs cluster into one of seven categories: strategy, growth, operations, technology, work, capital, and society. We’ve interpreted these needs as seven elements of a resilient organization, and defined an outcome-based aspiration and focus for each. 

Strategy            Define the transformation journey and ambition

Growth              Drive customer focus, product innovation, and market/revenue growth

Operations       Transform and modernize operations

Technology   Accelerate digital transformation

Work               Transform the work, workforce, and workplace

Capital               Optimize working capital, capital structure, and business portfolio

Society              Steward environmental and social resources through trust, response, governance, and measurement

Beliefs: Explore and leverage value-creating opportunities on the trail of the pandemic’s disruption.

Attitudes: Model and lead the organization and its teams through the essential mindset shifts to navigate the path to resiliency.

Agility: Embrace collective agility by convening a cross section of stakeholders to codesign the answers to company-critical challenges.

Structures: Ensure that specific C-suite members are accountable for the seven key elements of a resilient organization and the corresponding key actions for resilient leaders: 

  • Anticipate new market structures, new business models, and R&D innovations
  • Articulate a clear vision of the strategy to Thrive
  • Develop and launch the strategy, plan and business model
  • Build and maintain flexibility of options as conditions change on the path to Thrive
  • Anticipate new/emerging customer needs
  • Capitalize on organic growth
  • Configure business model to deliver the required customer experience
  • Define the role of resilience and agility in the emerging model
  • Orchestrate the recovery and resiliency of supply chains
  • Migrate overall operations (including physical locations, operating model, processes, and cost structure) to achieve the strategic vision
  • Accelerate digital capabilities to enable growth, decrease costs, and progress further as an insights-driven organization
  • Develop a technological infrastructure that can quickly adopt and adapt to new engagement models
  • Minimize cybersecurity risk
  • Align the work, the workforce, the workplace, and enabling technological infrastructure to reflect the next normal and to accelerate the destination
  • Provide the right talent experience and development opportunities to meet new customer needs
  • Foster an inclusive culture and diverse workforce positioned for long-term success
  • Develop a culture that promotes resilience through a focus on well-being and balance
  • Align working capital, liquidity, and capital structure to support the strategic vision
  • Ensure adequate financing to maintain/grow the business
  • Improve nimbleness of capital allocation methodologies to exploit new opportunities
  • Rearchitect, remodel, or rebuild the entity structure
  • Engage in advantaged M&A and managed divestitures
  • Develop and activate a comprehensive strategy for environmental impact, response and measurement
  • Set out and fulfil investor, societal, and stakeholder expectations
  • Proactively address risks to the organization and its environment
  • Understand and determine the key drivers and dimensions of trust for the organization
  • Incorporate and aggregate key stakeholder trust metrics so the C-suite team can monitor and formulate action plans

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