Exploring Resilience: Item #1, Six Habits of Highly Resilient Organizations by Peter+Trudy Johnson-Lenz
Transformation Systems International has been sharing the notion of personal and group resiliency (through the teachings and writings of the late Al Siebert http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Al_Siebert) as an important capacity related to leading transformational change initiatives. About a year ago I was exposed to a very creative concept called the Resilient Cities Initiative that ties together social, environmental, commercial and financial elements that are needed to generate a resilient community/city/place. And more recently Howard Silverman, presenting at an “Understanding Sustainability” conference, introduced me to the Design 4 Resilience (thinkers, writers and a conference) framework as perhaps a more grounded and focused way of thinking about how to generate a better world. Howard has been visiting with Peter and Trudy Johnson-Lenz (who I met almost 20 years ago) about resilience related things and sure enough I stumbled upon this nice piece from P+T about Resilient Organizations. Enjoy. Walt
Six Habits of Highly Resilient Organizations
Most companies live fast and die young. A study in 1983 by Royal Dutch/Shell found only 40 corporations over 100 years old. In contrast, they found that one-third of the Fortune 500s from 1970 were, at that time, already gone.
What differentiates success and failure, resilience and collapse? The Royal Dutch/Shell study emphasizes shared purpose and values, tolerance of new ideas, financial reserves, and situational awareness.
More recently, Ceridian Corporation collected best thinking and strategies to publish an executive briefing on organizational resilience. They highlighted the paradox that successful, resilient organizations are those that are able to respond to two conflicting imperatives:
- managing for performance and growth, which requires consistency, efficiency, eliminating waste, and maximizing short-term results
- managing for adaptation, which requires foresight, innovation, experimentation, and improvisation, with an eye on long-term benefits
Most organizations pay great attention to the first imperative but little to the second. Start-ups often excel at improvisation and innovation but founder on the shoals of consistent performance and efficiency. About half of all new companies fail during their first five years.
Each mode requires a different skill set and organizational design. Moving nimbly between them is a tricky dynamic balancing act. Disruptions can come from anywhere – from within, from competitors, infrastructure or supply chain crises, or from human or natural disasters. The financial crisis has riveted current attention, but it’s just one of many disruptions organizations must cope with daily. Planning for disruption means shifting from “just-in-time” production and efficiency to “just-in-case” resilience.
We draw from these two studies, and others, to develop what we call the six habits of highly resilient organizations…….