Taking Steps Toward Operational Resilience

Posted on: December 10, 2020
Author: Steve Greenstein

Concept: steps to operational resilienceWith the COVID-19 pandemic persisting, civil unrest, and times of great change, individuals and organizations are carefully considering what it means to be resilient and adaptable. We’ve unfortunately already seen that some large enterprises aren’t going to weather the current storm.

Though times are challenging, there is a silver lining: we’re all in it together. Whether you are in risk management and/or business continuity or not, we have the opportunity to come together as individuals within our organizations and help pioneer these turbulent times. Every organization now should begin constructing a simple roadmap of next steps to build a more resilient model of operation.

With times of great change comes great opportunity. Some of the most powerful companies in the world have sprung up during times of crisis or recession, and Fusion is ready and excited to go on this same journey with our clients.

We cannot overstate the importance of developing an operational resiliency plan. However, we must remember that one size doesn’t fit all. Some businesses will have resource constraints, some are just beginning their resilience journey, and others have different challenges. Especially during periods of chaos, Fusion gives organizations the opportunity to elevate their resiliency program to the next level. This journey begins with taking steps toward operational resiliency.

Before Looking Forward, Look Back

The most valuable asset an organization has is its past successes and failures. As a first step towards operational resilience, companies should look to learn lessons from the past. Leaders must assess what they’ve witnessed in the past few months and use this to inform future decisions.

A few key lessons we’ve learned are:

  • Crisis is the great amplifier. Times of stress magnify the true character and resilience of people and organizations. Only the strongest will survive – and organizations stay strong by prioritizing their values and employees.
  • Vulnerabilities and threats are endless. It’s truly impossible to list every potential threat or vulnerability that an organization faces. Situational intelligence is all about determining what the road hazards are and where they lie, then steering your organization away from them.
  • A new reality is emerging. In whatever the “next normal” is, there will be lasting shifts and new needs and priorities for your customers, organization, and more. We must embrace the unpredictable and work it to our collective and individual advantages.
  • Adaptability is key to longevity. Organizations must address short-, mid-, and long-term impacts to turn opportunity into crisis.
  • Fortune favors the prepared. Preparedness is often overlooked in times of prosperity – many organizations have plans that they never tested or projects that they never launched. The time to be prepared is always, and organizations should be agile, decisive, and consistently and constantly validating plans through exercises.

Get To the Heart of Your Organization

So, how do we go from a traditional business continuity program into a sophisticated operational resilience program?

Being prepared starts with being informed. First, get to the heart of your organization: what is your business model? How do you make money? What is your offering? Who are your customers? If you think you know your organization, think again.

Ask these important questions:

  1. How does your business work?
  2. How might it break?
  3. How can you prepare, protect, and respond?

Examine everything critically, ask tough questions of your colleagues and leaders, and start dialogues.

Proactive + Reactive = Operational Resilience

The traditional business continuity management (BCM) model is a key part of resilience, but it is by definition reactive. Fusion partners with its clients to take the standard method to the next level, incorporating traditional BCM into our bowtie method.

Fusion’s bowtie method, in which an event or incident sits at the center of the model, marries the proactive with the reactive. Business continuity planning sits on one side, spanning crisis management, emergency incident management plans, and more. But this is only half the story. On the other side of the bowtie is proactive risk management. This side preemptively assesses emerging risk and spans prevention and mitigation. Together, the proactive and reactive pieces build a 360-degree picture of operational resilience.

If and when disaster does strike, you must first protect cashflow and productivity and keep your workforce engaged and safe. Then, keep these principles in mind:

  • Mitigate risks. Fast moving changes in their risk landscape require new focus on situational awareness and driving next actions. Think about all the possible case scenarios and plan for those.
  • Stabilize operations. Organizations need a single operating view of their enterprise, critical services, dependencies, and next actions – forming a central command center as a foundational operating requirement.
  • Adapt and evolve. Customer needs have changed, so your operations must change. Realign your offering to the changing market and regulatory requirements. Ensure your products, services, and operations are aligned to your customers’ evolving needs.
  • Be ready for next time. Keep the agility you’ve used for this crisis going forward, as this won’t be the last time your business will need to pivot. Think about cross-cutting insights, upskilling your workforce, and how to prepare your organization for the next inevitable disruption. Don’t get caught flat-footed again.

Assess the Risk Landscape

Risks today look very different than the risks of yesteryear: cashflow, civil unrest, employees afraid to come back to the office, economic concern, and state of market activity, to name a few. Leaders must examine, how do all of these different scenarios play out in our business?

Leaders building operational resilience programs must fundamentally understand potential risks and where in their organization each particular function sits. Once they understand this, they must develop multiple processes, responsibility, and ownership at the organizational level. They must eliminate the possibility of silos and time lag with business impact analysis coordinators. They must bubble up functions and owners into organizational structure so they can report it at enterprise level.

Today’s risk landscape offers a unique opportunity to pivot, accelerate innovation and change, and to execute on long overdue deferred maintenance.

Build a Data-Centric Culture

In order to champion resilience in your organization, you must instill a culture built on information. Incorporate every source of truth you have and ensure you input all priorities into the Fusion system in order to build one centralized view. Initiate data culture across the company by building and distributing reusable datasets and dashboards to enable faster decision making.

Break down the traditional silos that keep information segregated by department. Be collaborative – think about HR, legal, and more. Create one data set that integrates with your existing systems. Leveraging the Fusion platform, build one data set that gives you a 360-degree view of your business while being able to segment relevant information to its key stakeholders and executive leadership. By assigning owners and engaging stakeholders, you break down silos and gain insights into operational performance and metrics. This will transform your business.

Key Takeaways

Ensuring that your organization is resilient is the most important business function you can perform. Don’t let resilience fall to the wayside during times of stability – take steps towards resilience now. Leverage lessons from past events to inform your future decisions and implement your business continuity management program – keeping risk, resiliency, mitigation, and prevention at the core. All the while, operationalize your program and develop a culture of resiliency, upholding data across the company to break down silos and enable faster decision making that is critical to your business success.

Most of all, remember, bad news could be great news – because once you know about a problem or disruption, you can solve it and emerge stronger.