One of the common ‘complaints’ in the resilience space is that we spend too much time talking about the concept and not enough time doing it!
Here is a suggestion on how you can get started on the implementation phase.
Regular readers may recall earlier mention of the work of Liisa Valikangas, in particular her HBR article with Gary Hamel, and more recently her book The Resilient Organization: How Adaptive Cultures Thrive Even When Strategy Fails.
In the final chapter of the book Valikangas exhorts us to –
“Remember, resilience is not a strategy; it is a rehearsal. In fact, it is a constant practice.” (1)
Therefore it is important that we stop reading or talking about definitions and start to rehearse and practice resilience. Easier said than done you may think, there are too many still arguing the meaning!
Valikangas has understood the complex adaptive and emergent properties of resilience, as a result she suggests we start by writing postcards to our colleagues describing examples of what we see as resilience in our organisation today. She suggests that these postcards may simply be constructed by answering the following three prompts;
1. Talk about an instance where you believe someone in the organisation, or the whole orgisation, has shown resilience.
- Surely there are examples of local resilience happening in many organisations today, we need to find them.
- Valikangas has 4 postcards on specific themes she sees as playing an important part in closing the resilience gap in the preceding chapters
- Essentially these postcards are small case studies of how we are practicing resilience today.
2. Why you think this is a good example of resilience, what struck you as particularly resilient in that situation.
- Rather than continue to debate the meaning, offer examples of what you see as resilience – there are no wrong answers.
- Shared understanding of the concept, and the meaning for resilience in your context, may become clearer from these conversations.
3. How can we rehearse that resilience more widely?
- This is one of the most important aspects of the postcard. We need to be able to rehearse our examples of resilience in order for more people to learn how to do it.
- It is critical that we describe this part effectively – people and organisations are not going to become resilient by reading about it!
The aim is to help us close the ‘resilience gap‘ – what Valikangas describes as the gap between “todays organisational capabilities and tomorrow’s need for resilience“.(2)
One of Valikangas’ own postcards relates to the need to promote “Inventive Experimentation”. This is one of her key themes for closing the gap. In this case it helps close the gap in the field of management principles and practices. Current capabilities in this area may not be the best match for building resilience.
When resilience emerges from the interaction of different elements in your organisations, and their adaptation to different situations, then we are operating in the domain of complexity.
Complexity is not the space in which to be applying best practices. As I have discussed previously (and refer to Cynefin framework) we are seeking to find emergent practices and refine these. This may involve a number of ‘resilience experiments’ as we determine the methods and metrics that are best applied to resilience.
Experimentation and rehearsal – time to take resilience out for a test drive, see if it lives up to the salesman’s hype. Capture the learnings, the emergent practices – and refine them until the day they are needed in earnest.
Do you have a favourite example of resilience to share? Stop reading and start writing!
I would love to hear your examples of resilience – please use the comments feature to add a resilience postcard.
I only have the Kindle version of this book, so will have quote the Kindle location rather than the page numbers. For those with the paper version, all references are from the final chapter “Conclusion: Bridging the Resilience Gap”.
(1) Location 3030
(2) Location 3002