Is Your Small Business Resilient Enough?

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The ability to quickly adapt, recover and reinvigorate in business is a constant requirement


“I have missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I have lost almost 300 games. On 26 occasions I have been entrusted to take the game-winning shot … and I missed.

I have failed over and over and over again in my life. And that’s precisely why I succeed,” said basketball great Michael Jordan.

In a world defined by rapid change and volatility, resilience has taken on a whole new meaning. It is no longer simply a case of being able to fend off the occasional knock here and there – the ability to quickly adapt, recover and return reinvigorated is a constant requirement.

Consequently, resilience is now a critical part of any business strategy. Being flexible and ready to act should be the cornerstone of your business thinking.

It is into this unpredictable world that we now enter, and resilience needs to be one of our closest companions.

Resilience: What it Means and Why it Matters

Resilience requires companies to evaluate their capabilities and address any weaknesses.

The business world is unfortunately full of examples of once-successful firms that have hit hard times. Why is it that some companies are able to weather change while others struggle?

Blundering on regardless, companies often ignored the signs that things weren’t right. Given the difficult time of the current recession, companies and shareholders are increasingly looking to dependable, stable investments.

This is not a climate where any company can afford to take its eye off the ball. Businesses must constantly review internal capabilities and scan the business landscape to identify opportunities and threats. Drifting along, comfortable with the status quo, is not an option, as inertia is often a precursor to decline. Companies must be proactive, dynamic, alert and flexible. Ideally, they must even be ready to completely change their business models before the need to change is forced upon them.

What building resilience requires

Building resilience requires a root and branch assessment and an overhaul of the organization.

Every aspect needs to be addressed, from structures, procedures and strategy to the quality of leaders, individuals’ resilience and how teams work. Evaluate the level of cooperation between people and teams – there should be a high level of trust and a shared purpose.

Do people go on with their jobs and take objective, realistic approaches?

You must assess the whole organization’s ability to respond swiftly and effectively to events and put systems and procedures in place and develop the necessary skills and resilience in your people.

By planning ahead and having the right processes in place, your company will be better placed to cope with changes when they occur. However, you must also make sure that any rules and procedures that you put in place allow people the necessary space to innovate and be flexible, as these are essential to equipping the organization to develop new ideas and to react quickly. People are the most important part of an organization and everything depends on them. It is here that we will start our journey to create resilient companies.

How Do You Develop Resilience?

Several techniques, capabilities and ways of thinking will help you ensure success:

  • Align the company’s culture and its goals
  • Know the strengths and weaknesses of your organization and your people
  • Evaluate available options
  • Imagine solutions and see likely or different possible futures
  • Be flexible
  • Inspire and lead others
  • Be open to new ideas and to change
  • Possess the drive

Values, Skills and Resilience are Individual

Strong corporate values matter.

They provide a sense of shared purpose and keep people working together for the same goals. These values are the very foundation that everything else is built upon and are especially important when dealing with change and uncertain times.

Boldness and imagination are other key aspects for surviving crises and growing a business, as is awareness of the environment around you. It is certainly the case that we are often unaware of opportunities or problems until it is so late that it becomes much harder to react successfully or to resolve issues. However, the key word here is “harder.” This is not the same thing as impossible. With the right attitude and approach, by figuring out how to change the situation, it is possible to turn even the most dire of situations around. After all, as Archimedes said, “Give me a place to stand, and I will change the world.”

What matters, however, is that each individual comes to his/her own belief that these issues – values, purpose, boldness, imagination and others – are important and interprets them in their own personal, individual way. In fact, the most significant lesson for any business leader is to know that, while structures, procedures, processes and systems can all be improved, the true source of resilience is people. Everything rests with them: they are the reason a company succeeds.

The final article in this series brings together all the 6Rs that we have explored so far and proposes a new set of transversal roles that break with silos and prepare companies for continuous change – the new CXOs.

Related content:

Business Success Is About Revisiting Those Entrepreneurial Seeds

How Resilient Is Your Small Business In Setting the Stage to Thrive?

Resilience, Ingenuity and Adaptability, Part III


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