Disruption and change are inevitable—and incredibly impactful. From economic volatility to geopolitical uncertainty to global pandemics, the unexpected can make or break your business.
Yet even though business leaders are cautioned to “expect the unexpected,” planning for and addressing disruption is one of the toughest challenges that businesses face.
Navigating disruption—and coming out stronger on the other side—requires resilience. Building business resilience is about more than cutting costs to tread water. It’s about effectively managing risk to protect the business in the short-term while simultaneously creating new opportunities for future growth and expansion.
That’s why a resilient business is one that sees uncertainty as an opportunity to transform and differentiate. It anticipates what’s around the corner and forges new pathways to growth as it presses on through a changing landscape.
A framework for building business resilience
Eagle Hill’s Business Resilience Framework lays out a balanced approach to embracing transformation in the face of disruption. It identifies five key areas for embedding resilience across your organization:
Plan for the future… any future. Instead of open questions about what would happen in the face of increasingly complex disruptions, scenario planning brings leaders together to fully examine real-world “what if” scenarios and business conditions. By doing this, companies can understand the potential impacts of various situations on their customers, operations, technology, workforce, and on other external stakeholders. Scenario planning helps build business resilience by enabling companies to prepare and prioritize, increasing leadership’s capacity to create a right-fit playbook for staying ahead of change to maximize returns and impact.
Flexibility is the key to stability. Designing a flexible organizational structure requires balancing the need for governance (e.g., management controls to drive compliance and lower risk) with the freedom for innovation and employee agency (e.g., empowering people who are closest to customers to think creatively about the services and products they need). This balance positions companies to navigate uncertainty by fostering a culture of innovation with appropriate guardrails and standards, resulting in a more resilient organization for the long run.
Optimize products, services, and initiatives. To further build business resilience and drive their competitive edge, companies need the ability to quickly adapt their portfolio of products, services, or initiatives to changing customer needs and behaviors. It’s key to establish a data-driven, 360-degree view of customers to gain an “outside-in” perspective of their needs and an “inside-out” perspective of what functional areas are learning about customer behaviors. Companies can then leverage this customer experience data to realign their portfolios to match emerging customer needs (and emerging customer segments) and empower employees to provide exceptional service.
Your people are your best asset. A top-performing workforce is critical to adapting and advancing amid disruption: they own core processes, hold key skills and expertise, and represent the organization to customers and partners. That’s why organizations should treat their people as competitive assets that can make or break their ability to navigate uncertainty and thrive during times of change. When a cost-focused environment makes it hard to reward top talent with pay incentives, companies should look to creative retention strategies to make sure their people feel cared for and valued. And they should make addressing worker burnout—which can lead to lost productivity and less desire to go above and beyond—a top priority.
Retool for the future. Technology is essential to drive efficiencies and future growth opportunities. The most resilient organizations strategically harness the power of technology to augment their workforce and automate processes, so that machines do the repetitive work and employees can focus on more satisfying tasks. These top companies look beyond just implementation and focus on driving technology adoption and enabling teams so that the business and their people get the most return on investments. Adding the right tools has never been more accessible or essential to staying competitive.