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By Kosta Nicolaou
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Resilience, Strategy, and Risk

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One thing we all know about the concept of resilience is that it has been around for a very long time. Those that have shown an innate resilience have survived and prospered. However, others that have struggled to embrace it have become irrelevant or extinct.

There is no doubt that resilience is key to our long-term future and survival. It could appear in the form of a mindset, a skill, a muscle, a virtue, a trait, a process, or a choice. So given how important is it to our survival, why do so many of us fail to give it the priority it deserves?

We recently ran a strategy master class that looked at how a well designed strategy could help us enhance our resilience. The class took a deep dive into the link between how we manage our strategies, risks, issues, and opportunities. We also explored how software could be used to deliver improved strategic outcomes.

I had spent a large part of my career spruiking and delivering GRC software. However, my recent focus has been leading product strategy for the design, development, and launch of the cloud platform skefto

Some time ago I set out on a journey to explore the priority companies placed on strategy. During my journey, I had an inflection point that challenged my views and beliefs. For years I had been promoting that effective management of risk alone will make us resilient. However, for many years I had been missing a key element. That was, a well-thought-out strategy designed with purpose, and delivered with a high level of precision!

Sure risks threaten our future and survival. However, it is our response to such risks that will truly allow us to become resilient and alter our future outcomes.

A Standard for Resilience

The term resilience has evolved over the past decade. More so in the last year as people have realised that it needs to become a strategic priority. The development of a new Standard is providing a best practice approach as to how we should manage our strategy.

A clearly defined purpose, vision, and core set of values will provide us a means to enhance our resilience. This information allows us to map out or create a pathway for our future and provides clarity for better decision making.

How we absorb and adapt to change could best define our resilience. Consequently, our ability to quickly see and respond to a threat or opportunity could have a huge impact on our future outcomes. The painful reality is that the need for change generally comes about quickly and is likely to challenge the current status quo. The need for change could result in a major shift to the way we work and the way we need to run our business to ensure we stay relevant. So how we respond to a threat or opportunity could mean the difference between our success or failure.

To establish true resilience we need to adopt a strategic mindset. This mindset needs to be bought into by all people in the business. From the management team who set direction, down to the staff who work on delivering routine tasks. Strategy is no doubt a major factor for our success, and when delivered well, could enable a fast rate of growth.

Getting Ready for Change

Now that we know that every strategy will bring about a level of change the next question we should ask, is whether we are capable of delivering “change”? One of our biggest delivery risks is a gap between our strategy and our operating model. Another risk is our inability to open up our minds to new ideas.

To be effective at delivering a new strategy we must become change champions. The image below show two models developed by change experts. It doesn’t matter which approach you adopt (and there are many others available). What is most important is that we never lose sight of the fact that effective strategy delivery is only possible by opening up our minds to change!

View Kurt Lewins Psychology of Change

John Kotters 8 Steps to Institute Change

So to wrap up let us cast our minds back to the Venn diagram presented earlier in this article. This diagram showed a link between resilience, strategy, risks, issues and, opportunities. 

Over my career, I thought this presented is a pretty solid picture of resilience. However, my recent research and the emergence of a new global Standard for resilience have challenged my views. Could this link be better presented by the Euler diagram shown below? This diagram defines resilience as a set of strategies that exist to help us better manage risks, opportunities, and issues. Moving around our organisation is a set of strategic risks and strategic opportunities that hold the potential for us to thrive or on the other hand, threaten our future.

Something to think about…

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