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Endurance Test

by Brian Sims
Brian Sims BA (Hons) Hon FSyI: Editor of Risk UK

Brian Sims BA (Hons) Hon FSyI: Editor of Risk UK

The latest global study conducted by The Economist Intelligence Unit for the British Standards Institution (BSI) finds that 88% of CEOs are now prioritising investment in resilience to ensure their business’ long-term survival.

The report identifies a worrying gap in the capability of firms to maintain growth into the future. It reveals that just one third (29%) of business leaders believe their companies have fully-embedded resilience practices in place, while less than half (44%) expect that to be the case in three years’ time. This is despite 88% and 80% of leaders respectively confirming that resilience is a major priority and indispensable for future growth.

Entitled ‘Organisational Resilience: Building an Enduring Enterprise’, this comprehensive study states that achieving the resilience necessary to survive and prosper in the long-term can be held back by a lack of skills and knowledge, insufficient leadership commitment and short-term financial considerations.

The research also highlights the belief that cultural resistance and skills silos create weak points and bottlenecks within an organisation. Two fifths (39%) of those business leaders questioned struggle to secure support for essential resilience measures like information security and corporate governance.

Just one-in-five (19%) of European businesses have succeeded in fully embedding resilient processes compared to a third in North America (37%) and the Asia Pacific region (34%).

In terms of being a driver for business success, resilience is defined by the report as the avoidance of operational failures and the movement to strategic enablement. Three fifths (61%) of respondents see it as a source of competitive advantage, with more than half viewing a “very strong link” between investment in this particular area and continuing prosperity.

Those companies interviewed for the study (including Fiskars, the 366 year-old Finnish consumer goods concern) explained that achieving organisational resilience is indeed vital for long-term financial stability, while true resilience is found to come from “strategic adaptability” across all aspects of operations.

Commenting on the document, Howard Kerr (CEO of the BSI) stated: “Navigating today’s fast-moving and ever-changing world requires companies to be agile, robust and adaptive in order to defy corporate mortality and pass the test of time. That two out of every three business leaders responding to our survey believe their organisations may fail such a test shows just how fragile and vulnerable company structures are in today’s world.”

The report identifies six key features of resilient organisations. The first is a proactive approach: a willingness to adapt before being forced to do so. Second in the chain comes dynamic leadership. Support at the top of the firm is paramount for embedding the process from the CEO downwards. A willingness to listen to market needs is crucial, so too a strong corporate culture. There must be holistic inclusion and full recognition of everyone’s responsibilities and contributions to the business. Possessing a clear vision, purpose and identity is vital, as is the avoidance of responding solely to short-term financial goals.

Above all, it must always be recognised that there’s no ‘finish line’ when it comes to implementing a culture of resilience.

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