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The Magic of Resilience

08 July 2016 | Updated 01 January 1970

Since the BREXIT option was selected democratically by a majority of the UK population, the word ‘resilience’ has been used widely and frequently by both business leaders and politicians alike.

Resilience is simply and in a nutshell is about 3 things – preparing, recovering and adapting from crisis. These are continuous processes which resilient organisations undertake as part of their everyday lifecycle in order to harden their businesses against future strategic shocks – and let’s face it – BREXIT was a major strategic shock.

There was already an abundance of uncertainty and risk extant within the economy – this has now been exacerbated by an order of magnitude as organisations wrestle with the implications of UK’s withdrawal from the EC and the ‘unknown unknowns’ attached to the process and our future life out-with the single market. Add in violent turmoil in the Middle East, the risks associated with the Internet of Things, terrorism, climate change and the re-emergence of the Russian Bear under Putin as a threat to broader European security and we have the very ingredients of a volatile and lethal soup, stirred by political turmoil and boiled by a lack of credible leadership across the globe. We shall await the US elections on 8th November with a degree of trepidation.


So, some hard facts:

20% of UK businesses will face a crisis this year,

A proportion of them, around 25%, will not recover and will cease to trade,

Those who do not have a viable business continuity plan are most at risk. There has never been a more appropriate time to dust off your BCP and ensure that it is fully up to date.

Those who have a plan, but have not exercised it are complacent and ‘cometh the day’ will receive a nasty shock when it all goes wrong. Whether it is a simple table top exercise or a staff training session, the plan must be tried and communicated via the chain of command. Ideally, the C-suite should be placed under some immersive pressure to see how they cope with an unexpected asymmetric crisis.

So what is resilience? Judith Rodin describes it is as ‘The capacity of an entity to prepare for disruptions, to recover from shocks and stresses and to adapt and to grow and learn from a disruptive experience’ – a simple but succinct definition which covers all angles.

Rodin goes on to describe the 5 characteristics of resilience as being:

Situational Awareness - an ability and willingness to constantly assess, take in new information, reassess and adjust our understanding of the critical and relevant strengths and weaknesses, and other factors, as they change and develop. In other words, mindfulness.

Diversification - having different sources of capacity so it can successfully operate even when elements of that capacity are challenged: there are redundant elements or assets. The entity processes or can draw upon a range of capabilities, resources, ideas, information sources, technical elements, people or groups.

Integration - the entity has coordination of functions and actions across systems, including the ability to bring together disparate ideas and elements, work collaboratively across elements, develop cohesive solutions and coordinate actions. Information is shared and communication is transparent.

Self-regulating - a system, or elements within a system, can regulate itself in ways that enable it to deal with anomalous situations and disruptions without extreme malfunction or catastrophic collapse.

Adaptive and Agile - the capacity to adjust to changing circumstances during a disruption by developing new plans, taking new actions or modifying behaviours so that you are better able to withstand and recover, particularly when it is not possible or wise to go back to the way things were before.

You can read more of Rodin’s thoughts in her excellence book ‘The Resilience Dividend’ published by Profile Books which is a ‘must read’ for those intent on building resilient organisations. Businesses of all sizes, shapes and hues that now ignore their risk register do so at their peril. Emergency planners are often cast as the doom mongers in any management team, however, if one prepares for the worst, then the more ‘normal’ crisis which we will face will be effectively managed and the organisation will come through the experience as a stronger and more agile business.



SERIFM is spearheaded by TWinFM in conjunction with TriTectus Strategic Resilience Limited. SERIFM aims to create more resilient organisations and assist the FM community to share threat data and exploit new technology. It is the intention of SERIFM to help enable this sharing. Security and Resilience In Facilities Management will provide the ideal platform to help create a highly informed customer, to demand the highest quality imagery from visual surveillance systems, to inform the supply chain of the need for resilience and to highlight new technologies, procedures and tactics as they are deployed and as experience is gained from their use. SERIFM is a not-for-profit group dedicated to leading the fight back against crime and strengthening resilience at a time of reduced national resources.

SERIFM’S inaugural conference will set the UK’s strategic resilience picture as seen through the eyes of the Metropolitan Police, the Cabinet Office, academia and the security services.  The date and location to be advised.





Article written by Jeff Little, OBE | Published 08 July 2016


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