Sunday, 22 June 2014

Cells in a complex adaptive system: Resilience begins with you

There is a lot of literature and discussion about resilient organisations, resilient cities and resilient communities. We know that there is a diversity of opinion and evidence based research that sets the scene for what resilience looks like in an organisation, city or community. 

100 Resilience Cities, Pioneered by the Rockefeller Foundation, defines resilience as “the capacity of individuals, communities, institutions, businesses and systems within a city to survive, adapt, and grow no matter what kinds of chronic stresses and acute shocks they experience.”

I am not associated with the Rockerfeller Foundation but if interested, you can explore the 100 Resilient Cities page here. There is some exciting work going on to put the problem of defining resilience in the hands of the global community. What it highlights is that much like security, sustainability and risk, resilience looks different the world over and will depend on the context, culture and forces or pressures that exist in a given organisation or community.

The 100 Resilient Cities Project, be it by design or circumstance gives a voice to the people to not only define what resilience is in a societal context but also to build resilience through shared experience, communication and case studies. 
I have been involved in resilience in one form or another for over 15 years now and while, metrics and indicators become more of a science and practice and less academic in this space, there is one common thread. Resilience in an organisational and community context is dependent on people.
People, like cells in a complex system make up the interdependent parts of the adaptive organisation or community. Different cells have a different purpose but they must work together to provide a functioning organism that can adapt to and overcome stressors such as shocks and turbulence. In the case of an organization those forces will tip the organisation one way or another – towards failure or success.

This is why I really like the idea of a crowd-sourced body of knowledge for resilience. Organisations and communities are connected, complex and adaptive the world over. Success or failure often sits with the people working together as a system.  Resilience starts with you but it does not end there in our highly connected world.

Monday, 24 December 2012

Business resilience - top ten tips

As it’s the end of the year, I have a gift for you. My top tips for delivering business resilience and security strategy.

1.     Know your customers (internal and external) and provide them the results they need.
2.     Ensure business resilience outcomes align with the business strategy and as relevant any other operational plans
3.     Find other resilience and security champions and leverage each other’s expertise
4.     Don’t fall victim to crisis hopping – make some space to think and plan strategically.
5.     Find your biggest detractors, work out why and seek to bring them around by delivering them value. These people will become your biggest supporters if you can achieve this
6.     Enable others to champion resilience and security, remember that effective security and resilience involves integration throughout the business
7.     Ask your CEO what resilience means to them, what their concerns are and what they want out of your program.
8.     Establish a three year exercise and training program – this will help focus on delivery milestones, budget and stakeholder involvement. You will be on the front foot
9.     Engage with other professionals to broaden your horizon. A friend once said to me Iron sharpens Iron.
10.  Do something interesting with your resilience delivery next year– think outside the box.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Mix it up - Deliver interesting not boring training

I found myself thinking about training a bit over the past week. Training takes a lot of time to prepare and deliver but more the point, it takes up time of those you are training. How can you demonstrate the expected value?

I can recall many occasions where I have been at a training and awareness session about something and have walked away feeling disengaged and bored. Typically this experience is coupled by a rather dull subject which is delivered via PowerPoint with 20 or so dot points in 12 font crammed onto each slide. It’s a good time to reflect on your own training delivery.

We often deliver induction training, continuation training or refresher training using PowerPoint or similar as an expeditious way to get the message across in the limited period of time because:

1.     It can be prepared relatively quickly
2.     The training package can be used more than once
3.     Everyone else is doing it – right?

Are these reasons good enough? Are there other reasons to run training this way?

Despite the validity of reason #1 and #2 – I do often use PowerPoint (let’s say reason #3 is invalid unless we are lemmings). The problem may still be getting people to attend the training and making the training interesting enough for people to stay (or come back next time). Here are some tips:

1.     Mix it up from time to time and deliver the training without PowerPoint. Instead, use a whiteboard, smart board or flip charts
2.     Get the participants involved (see tip #1)
3.     If you use PowerPoint, reduce the number of points on each slide
4.     Break the presentation down into bite size chunks and discuss or have a quick-fire question and answer session after each section
5.     Include slide animations and interesting (relevant) images but don’t go over the top with the animations as it can detract from learning

As a final tip, it is also useful to provide a training feedback form with questions on the content and delivery so you can further improve next time. Don’t become the victim of cookie-cutter training! With a little bit of effort or forethought, your training can deliver on intended outcomes and be interesting. 

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Business Resilience through change management – some quick thoughts

Business resilience can complement change management initiatives and programs. So what does business resilience have to offer the organisation that wants or needs to change?
 Business resilience is focused on business success (or at least it should be). As an organisation goes through a change program and refocuses on core business (for example), there is an opportunity to partner with the business leaders and other staff to identify changes to business processes, values and behaviours that lend themselves to adaptive capacity, flexibility and agility in the face of turbulence.

Some questions to think about when coupling change management with business resilience may be:

·       What is the key outcome of change and how can I ensure business resilience is tailored to meet this outcome?
·       Is there an opportunity to influence workforce values by including ‘flexibility’, ‘adaptability’, ‘resilient’ or ‘innovative’ along-side other core values in the business plan?
·       Can efficient business resilience investment enable a leaner, outcome focused organisation which can manage risks and deliver business success?
·       Are we more agile and can we change direction faster as a result of streamlined processes and structures - if not what do we need to do so we achieve this?

These questions, and others like them should be explored at the scoping stage of the change management initiative. It is then up to you to adapt your own thinking and approach to meet organisational needs through resilience. Business resilience should not just be about sudden shocks such as natural disasters and economic crisis. It is also not only about emergency response or business continuity. Organisational resilience must rise to the challenge by providing and creating value through change management and become part of business strategy.

Sunday, 11 November 2012

Network Risk Management – risky business or just good business?

Risk management should always support business goals. While risk management activities happen across and throughout most businesses, it may still not be effectively integrated. You may be thinking that ‘my risk management program is integrated’ or ‘We take a systems approach or have a process in place to ensure key operational, functional and corporate risks are well understood and communicated to management and the Board’ ‘. If you are, that’s a great starting place; but what are you doing across your supply chain and with your key stakeholders? How is risk management supporting shared outcomes and deliverables? Are you investing enough time in understanding your key stakeholders and their drivers, risk appetite and vulnerabilities? How well do you understand the relationship between your organisations’?

If you have not reflected on these questions, now is the perfect time to start! We live in a connected world and every organisation has some degree of shared risk. If we ignore the shared risks, we fail in risk management; experience more adverse events and miss critical opportunities. It may impact your bottom line, result in delayed projects or undermine customer or shareholder confidence.

Think past your organisation, think past your supply chain and embrace your stakeholder network of relationships, interdependencies and outcomes. It is a challenging proposition but it will take you on a journey that will add value to your organisation and expand your own professional horizon.

Don’t expect a smooth journey without differences, hurdles, competing interests and values. Recognising these will help establish the rules of engagement. Shared risk management requires genuine business partnership and investment in understanding. Integrated risk management also requires a shared process that can be driven to support own business outcomes and shared outcomes with stakeholders where interests intersect.

How do you champion shared or network risk management? I will be writing more on this in the future but would also like to know your thoughts and experiences.