Adaptability and Resilience – Essentials to Survive the New Normal

adaptability and resilience

According to Darwin’s theory of evolution, natural selection is based on the survival of the fittest. One could describe it as nature sieving through this huge bowl of sand, and only the particles that are larger than the mesh survive. Or, you could say that only the particles smart enough to clump together and form bigger particles survive.

Survival of the fittest is not solely based on the strength, speed, size, or look of an employee, instead, it is hinged on the employee’s ability to adapt and meet the changing survival demands of its immediate environment.  This principle is applicable in business as well. An organization’s survival is not just a function of its staff size, financial position, or geographic location. It is a function of various factors and the company’s ability to adapt to meet the present and future business needs.

Adaptability is the ability of a business to re-invent itself or realign its strategy to meet the ever-changing market needs. It involves the organization’s ability to learn from past experiences as well as learn on the go. The amalgamation of adaptability and strategy leads to resilience.

According to TechTarget, a data-driven market research firm, business resilience is the ability an organization has to quickly adapt to disruptions while maintaining continuous business operations and safeguarding its people, assets and overall brand equity. This means that resilience goes beyond the business recovery plan; it includes all processes involved in the development and execution of post-disaster strategies.

Resilience is not just about the continuity plans that will help you survive the current economic uncertainty. It also involves the post-crisis strategies you develop to ensure stability in the new normal.

Why Resilience and Adaptability?

With the spread of technology, increased rates of travel, and globalization, the world is evolving at its fastest pace yet. This evolution has seen several economic crises, and significant shifts in demand and supply such that planning for years in advance is one of the most uncertain tasks. Instead of 5 or 10-year plans, organizations are creating shorter 3-year plans with agile models to allow them to adapt quickly to change.

Now more than ever, resilience and adaptability are essential for business continuity as we cannot accurately predict what the world would look like in the next six months, or what our customers’ demands would be in that same timeframe. To ensure sustainability, we as an organization must begin to create resilient strategies that not only make room for adaptation in crisis but also serve as blueprints for recouping afterwards.

Characteristics of a Resilient Organization

  1. Effective leadership: Leadership is the steering wheel of any business. As such, the Team heads should be able to provide direction for the unit/organization in times of crisis. He or she should be able to strategize and evaluate the business terrain and chart the right course for the organization. The leader must also form a strong team to enable the organization to survive.

2. Culture: Culture has been defined as the totality of our ways of living. A culture of engagement and ownership helps staff understand the role they play in building resilience in the organization. With different types of organizational cultures, an organization can choose to adopt either a clannish culture, a market culture, an adhocratic culture or a hierarchical culture. Understanding organizational goals and adopting the most suitable culture go a long way in pushing team effort to achieve a goal.

3.  Agility: A resilient organization must be vigilant to identify changes in the economy and business environment. Once these are identified, the organization must be receptive enough to develop flexible strategies to weather the storm.

4. Decentralization: This improves efficiency in operations and decision making. To build resilience and flexibility, decision-making processes must be decentralized, thus giving staff the power to make some critical decisions relating to their work. Organizations should therefore invest in developing its people to function effectively in small teams capable of delivering on critical tasks and projects. A flat or decentralized organizational structure also promotes creativity and collaboration.

5.  Creativity: With an ever-changing business environment, innovation, and creativity are essential skills of a resilient organization. Promoting creativity in staff and appreciating such efforts can help build up this skill in advance for a rainy day.

6. Collaboration: Breaking typical silos created either by team segregation, culture or hierarchy, will help the resilient organization leverage knowledge from all members of staff across all business units.

7. Live ready: A resilient organization is proactive and not reactive. It is essential to create flexible plans based on different scenarios. These plans should be tested in small clusters to see how they play out and how they might need to be improved before the day of crisis.

Resilience and adaptability can be built.

Great leaders are made through dedication to learning and improvement and in some cases, experience. In the same vein, no organization is born with the blueprint for adaptation and resilience, but the organizations capacity for both can be built.

By adopting best practices and looking inward to see how to mitigate risks, organizations will be able to weather the storm of crises. Building a culture of inclusion and an organization where every employee takes active responsibility for their function creates a positive team spirit, which is essential in keeping an organization afloat.

As a Team leader, assess your unit/structure and determine what changes you need to make today.

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