The celebrated Italian American former F1 driver Mario Andretti once famously stated: “Desire is the key to motivation, but it’s the determination and commitment to unrelenting pursuit of your goal – a commitment to excellence – that will enable you to attain the success you seek.” With this quote very much in mind, Phillip Wood outlines ten key commitments that today’s companies can abide by in their quest to become genuinely resilient in all that they do.
The majority of us make commitments to others on a regular and routine basis. We may make promises or devise plans and perhaps we complete and finish them, or maybe we don’t. Whatever we say we’re going to do, and whatever approach we intend to take, it’s important to ensure that we follow up on our promises and commit to success.
In thinking about the ways to improve the viability of today’s organisations, there are perhaps some ways in which we can make commitments that will indeed realise a genuine and tangible difference. What follows, then, are my Ten Commitments for Resilience (although let me state right here and now that they’re not written on tablets of stone).
Commit to understanding
You cannot protect yourself or your organisation unless you understand what it is you are protecting yourself or your organisation against. If you analyse your organisation, you will probably find that there are many cases of activities that are taking place without true understanding of the reasons or rationale for them happening in the first place. This can be a prevalent issue in relation to risk management in particular. Whole organisations may base their entire risk registers on flawed or misidentified assumptions.
In this commitment, the effective resilience specialist will ensure that the basis of their approach towards building a cohesive anticipation, response and recovery capability will be a solid understanding of what it is that they’re facing, and also, therefore, what their responses may be.
Commit to learning
No-one knows everything. All of us learn something new every day. It’s part of the human condition, and something that differentiates us from less developed species, leading to progress, improvement and change.
In order to learn effectively, it’s fair to suggest that we need to understand the benefits of learning and the impact any lack of learning can have upon ourselves and our organisations. If we don’t take the time and effort to improve our knowledge, fill the gaps in our understanding and develop the capability to research, think and analyse, all we’re doing is merely watching things happen.
On that basis, try to learn a little. Maybe watch a TED talk on YouTube or undertake a free online course in a subject related to your role or perhaps unrelated to your mainstream activity. Either way, commit to learning. It’s true that this really is the stuff of life.
Commit to flexibility
When things impact upon us, we can stand tall and strong and try to let them bounce off us, or we can absorb them and consider how we may have to change in order to ensure that the future impact is less painful.
Both methods are effective, but it’s better and preferable to think about maintaining a flexible approach, and especially so against a dynamic and changing risk background.
As the world continues to develop in ways we may not like, we should also maintain the ability to develop our own skills and capabilities to flex and move appropriately.
If we stand still in a world of change, there’s a good chance that our capability and adaptability will not be sufficient to cope.
Commit to your future
Despite the annual round of predictions that come up at the start of every New Year (which is always something to look forward to), we can only predict the future to a limited degree.
If we cannot predict what’s coming, we should ensure that we’re as ready as we can possibly be by planning effectively. Base your thoughts on how you want your organisation to operate. Set your future path and commit to it, and then wait for the surprises.
Commit to commitment
Planning is important. It’s something we do that’s at the core of our organisational capability. In terms of resilience, it’s at the cornerstone of effective organisational anticipation, response and recovery.
However, planning is pointless if it’s not supported by the commitment of the organisation and the stakeholders identified within plans themselves.
Besides writing our ideas down on paper, we need to ensure that we’re able to translate them into a commitment by the organisation to follow them through. This commitment needs higher-level management, cultural capability and perhaps a significant amount of resource.
A lack of commitment to making plans real will generally indicate that they’ll never work, and that will be a significant flaw in your overall capability. ‘Planning to plan’ means nothing. ‘Planning to do’ needs commitment.
Commit to others
Being capable in the world of resilience means that, having followed Commitments One to Five, we ensure that we’re able to bring in others – both internal and external to our organisation – and that we offer them a flow of information and support such that they can play their part.
Committing to others means that we don’t expose our organisation, stakeholders and team members to any unnecessary risk. We should also try to avoid a blame culture when things do go wrong.
The way to ensure that people feel included – and form part of a coherent team – is to really include them rather than just telling them. Sharing a team vision when you don’t want to share is probably not the best option for the development of a resilience capability. Teams thrive on teamwork, while even the greatest visions need someone to carry them out.
Commit to precision
The devil’s always in the detail. In the world of resilience, it can often be the case that we think about financial and economic loss in terms of what happens when something goes wrong. However, we can often lose significant amounts of economic capital – and, indeed, operational expenditure – by not being precise in our work towards Commitments One to Six.
Identifying who needs to be involved and to what level, and accurately considering the number of hours and time that need to be allocated to them, is every bit as important as preventing loss by any other means.
There’s little point in trying to save £50,000 per annum on loss prevention when you’re wasting more than that on imprecise resourcing and allocation of personnel to resilience roles. Commit to precision and the financial balance will inevitably shift.
Commit to humility
Similar to the idea around learning and understanding, we really do need to consider the fact that none of us knows it all. Sometimes, we will do things incorrectly. Sometimes, we will make mistakes. No-one is exceptional in that respect.
We should always be in a situation where we recognise that we’re neither the best nor the font of all capability or knowledge. We should continue to understand that we’re no more or no less important than the perceptions of us held by customers, clients and stakeholders.
By committing to humility, we should strive automatically to become the best we can possibly be, which is probably essential if we’re trying to develop an organisational capability in resilience or any other protective discipline where there are significant inherent challenges.
Commit to improvement
A commitment to improvement and the constant development of capability is something that we should all aspire towards in our normal everyday activities.
We don’t become better or more effective by waiting for the competition or adversaries to outsmart us or reap the benefits of their own self-improvement while we spectate.
Commit to excellence
In summation, this is all about ensuring that we as individuals and organisations commit to excellence.
Improvement and development are never easy, and can often be complicated and difficult. However, the responsibility of resilience disciplines is to ensure that we protect people, property, infrastructure and information by committing to excellence and considering all of the Commitments from One to Ten as part of an holistic whole.
Phillip Wood MBE MSc is Head of the School for Management and Professional Studies and Head of Department for Security and Resilience at Buckinghamshire New University