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Today I’ve listened to an excellent presentation on business resilience and disaster recovery. Many words were said about what it takes to recover from a disaster, what you need as a business to cope and thrive even in a risky environment. However, at the same time, I felt that it lacked something.
And then I realised. What was missing from this image were people. No, “top-level executives” were in the picture. Also, the skills they should have and what they supposedly care about. The people that were missing were the people who actually do the work. People who create relationships.

The image shown to us was picturing organisation as a mechanical structure laced with the knowledge that “does some work”…

You can ask – what’s wrong with that? Nothing, really. It just this image is incomplete without people.

Centuries throughout and still, an organisation is a group of people who work together, using tools and knowledge, to satisfy other folks needs. People and their relationships are at the core of the organisation.
Also, when disaster strikes, what is tested first is these relationships.

Why is it important? Because if looked at this way, wellbeing of any organisation boils down to two things: relationships and capabilities necessary for satisfying folks’ (mostly customers) needs.
So, to keep organisation resilient, these are the things to be preserved.

Examples of capabilities:

  • Ability to support your people so they can continue doing work
  • Ability (and capacity) to satisfy customer needs (“do the work”)
  • Ability to comply with applicable laws and regulations (including paying taxes)
  • Ability to improve and innovate

Examples of relationships:

  • Between people in your company
  • Between people in your company and your customers
  • Between people in your company and your suppliers
  • Between your company and society
  • Between your company and other companies

(Last two are also relationships between people, but we are might yet not know who these people are)

So, to answer the initial question of the article – what does it take to have business resilience?
What it takes is:

  1. Being aware of your capabilities and how exactly they are created and supported
  2. Being aware and conscious about your existing relationships and developing them to be supportive rather than indifferent or adversarial
  3. Acquiring additional capability of retaining or recovering everything necessary to sustain your current capabilities and relationships, which would be much easier if you do the first two steps.

Note, that your people are creators of your business capabilities and although we don’t like it, people are prone to the disappearance. Sometimes temporarily and sometimes permanently. Make sure that whatever strategy or measures you put in place to achieve resilience, they would always start with people.