Resilient Organizations in Uncertain Times

By Jillian Anderson and Don Ruse

Like many of the business leaders we speak with each day, we sometimes find ourselves overwhelmed by a multitude of varying, often conflicting perspectives on what the post-crisis, “new normal” will look like.  What we have concluded is that there is only one thing for certain—we should prepare to be in an extended and uncomfortable period of uncertainty.  So, what does this mean for our organizations, and for us as leaders?

Simply put, it means that we need to step back and objectively evaluate whether our organization’s current operating model is resilient enough to function in a sustained period where we must operate without complete information, factual models, or historical patterns of predictable behavior.  Organizations with the ability to operate in an uncertain world won’t be immune to the challenges of today, but they will be better equipped to adapt to whatever our future holds.

Four Attributes of Resiliency

From our research and experience with companies that survive ambiguous, difficult times, we have determined that organizations likely to successfully navigate challenging climates embody four essential operating model attributes that drive resilience:

So how do you test if your operating model is ready to equip your company for the new normal?  Start by meeting with your leadership team to ask yourselves these fundamental questions:

  • How capable and agile are your core business processes to adapt and flex to changes in customer demand? Competitor strengths and weaknesses? Supplier capabilities and capacity? Employee and community needs?
  • How prepared is your organization to materially depart from the “tried and true” to leverage any emerging opportunities to disrupt your competitors and industry?
  • How quickly can your organization make decisions with incomplete information to speedily respond to changes in the business environment, or even find ways to gain new advantages?
  • How capable and confident is your organization in using incomplete information to make informed judgments?
  • Do you have in place the formal and informal networks inside and outside the organization to inform and quickly execute key decisions? Align your employees, suppliers, and customers around these decisions? Provide feedback on the results of these decisions?
  • How quickly can you transition the right people with the right skills/experience to roles that are essential to successful execution? Do you know which roles those are?
  • How flexible are your workforce management processes and practices to accommodate the significant physical, emotional, psychological, and economic pressures your employees might be feeling?

Your answers to the questions above will help you clarify and focus on the specific opportunities to create resiliency in your organization during these uncertain times. We look forward to sharing practical tips in articles to follow that will help you answer these questions and embody the four attributes of a successful, durable operating model.

To learn more about Axiom Consulting Partners’ perspectives on resilient organizations, see the articles below:

What’s Next? How Safe, Smart, and Strong Leaders Can (Re)Build Agile and Resilient Organizations

5 Keys to Designing a Resilient Operating Model

Indispensable Growth: 5 Pillars of Customer Retention

Spans, Layers and Other Blunt Instruments: Why Structural Changes Don’t Improve Execution

Right Strategy, Wrong Operating Model = Poor Results

If you would like to discuss building organizational resiliency, let’s chat.

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