corporate resilience

Using Crisis to Grow


Companies must be able to respond to changes instead of reacting to them.

Clients are executing faster, expanding their knowledge faster and communicating faster. So are your competitors. The extraordinary access, communication and execution mean the companies that are able to respond to changes better, or be more resilient, will grow faster and outlast their competitors.

Resilience usually applies to two areas: operational and strategic.

Usually when leaders think about resilience, they think about operational resilience, which is situational. It aids a company responding to an incident, change, or crisis. A major client changes direction and no longer needs your services, a new payroll system is implemented or an accident occurs on a job site.

Brody Dorland, co-founder of DivvyHQ likens the operational resilience of a company to the personal resilience of the company’s owner. Dorland has experienced the emotional ups and downs of launching and operating a tech startup.

He says: “Resiliency is just a psychological force that tells you to get back on your feet, time after time, when life punches you in the gut. Get punched, get up. Get punched again, get up. Over a lifetime, you either build up a tolerance, or you don’t. Those who don’t get back up find something comfortable to do and never leave that comfort zone.”

You and your company can build up the tolerance and ability to get back up, while your competitors settle for comfort zones. Some of the following steps will help your company be more resilient, and actually grow, when change or crisis occurs.

Situation Analysis // Be aware of internal and external performance drivers and trends. Tools you can use include SWOT, PESTLE, Porter’s 5 Forces and a Talent Management Review.

Preparation // Awareness will help you identify possible changes and challenges that could obstruct your goals. List the five to seven changes or challenges that are most likely to happen. Then, prepare a brief Response & Communication Plan for each. The time to consider what is the best plan for your company is before turbulence hits, not in the midst of it.

Prevention // Use your plans to help prevent the threats from occurring.  This can include training of staff and managers, new HR policies, IT policies and training, and updating of equipment. Do what you can to prevent the undesirable from happening.

Response // Even with awareness, preparation and prevention, you cannot control every possibility. Work with your team to absorb the stressor, resist damage and recover quickly. You may want to use resources such as an objective decision-making model, a public relations expert and an internal communications expert.

Restoration // Once the change or crisis subsides, focus on restoration so your company can move forward. Give people time to absorb the circumstances and demonstrate hope for the future. Unfortunately, many leaders neglect this step. Not taking this action often leads to repetition of the crisis and desperate grasping for salvation later. Tools to use include an After Action Review, inspirational messaging and process improvement.

Many large companies dedicate resources to this exercise, but small businesses can do the job even better. A small business can be more nimble than a large one, which may be burdened by red tape. A small business that sees operational resilience as a worthwhile process will be better positioned to maneuver through changes than its competitors who hope gut and grit will be enough to make it.

Dorland advises, “We shouldn’t be afraid of failure. I think failure is the best teacher for learning how to prepare and develop a strategy for anything in business. Get back on your feet, dust yourself off and learn from it. Do that enough throughout your career and you (and your company) will be a force to be reckoned with.”

Commit two hours within the next month to outline an operational resilience plan for your business. The returns will be valuable.