The financial crisis in 2007-2008 triggered a recession that is considered by many economists to have been the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression of the 1930s. Financial institutions failed and entire countries ached under the burden of debt that was necessary to prop up markets and bail out banks that had appeared previously to be ‘too big to fail’. The resilience of the entire sector was called into question.

In today’s volatile, uncertain and complex world, understanding what it takes to achieve organisational resilience is more challenging than ever. That is why a recent collaborative research project between Cranfield University and the British Standards Institute examined 50 years of thinking on organisational resilience to identify how organisations can anticipate, prepare for, respond to and adapt to incremental change and sudden disruptions to survive and prosper.

Our research identified two core drivers of organisational resilience: organisations must have a defensive mindset to stop negative things from happening and to protect results. Yet, to ensure long-term survival in a completive marketplace, they must also have a progressive mindset, thereby and generate positive results. There are two ways to achieve organisational resilience: organisations need to be consistent by standardising policies, processes and behaviours. Yet they must also be flexible by fostering diverse ideas and perspectives, creative problem solving and innovation to cope with and thrive in a dynamic environment. These four aspects of organisation resilience were synthesised into a holistic framework with four organisational resilience archetypes, as outlined below.

Jan-Mar 2018 Issue

Cranfield School of Management