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Priorities for Resilience

January 31, 2024

Posted in: WATSON Views

This is the fourth and final article in our four-part Resilience Series, From Nice Word to Powerful Action: The Board’s Role in Creating a Resilient Organization. Read Part 1: Resilience is a Nice Word, here, Part 2: The Resilient Board, here, and Part 3: The Resilient Director, here.

In Part 1 of this series, we explored the shifting and increasing expectations of boards to position organizations not just to withstand external forces and shocks, but to find opportunity and advantage in a changing world. In Part 2 and Part 3, we explored what it takes for them to do so.

This final part in our series identifies a few key places to start, and some indicators to help assess where you are today.

Building resilience is a body of work

Boards can guide and shape the organization and its business model for resilience; they must also embody resilience and readiness in themselves. Much like strategy, risk, and governance, resilience has specific areas of practice and is also a mindset that guides decisions and investments. The challenge is to break down the idea of resilience into components boards can plan for and move to action.

When we do break it down into the 8 Resilience Factors and look at the detailed indicators under each factor that make up Watson’s framework, we get a very long list of things a board can and should be doing; more than any board could take on at once.

So where should you start?

3 priority areas to get started and gain the greatest early impact

1. Know the business model and the complex ecosystem.

Most directors have a decent understanding of the business they are governing, but decent does not get us far enough. Directors need to understand the web of connections around the organization – suppliers, customers, partners, employees, stakeholders, regulators, and more – and how forces of risk and opportunity play out around the whole web.

How can board education, site visits and other mechanisms help directors have deeper, broader and more nuanced contributions?

2. Get the benefit of a broad range of experience and thought.

Resilience is where the rubber hits the road for board DEI. It takes a wide range of views and experiences to be fully attuned to the world and to project forces and impacts.

How can you push your board diversity a step further? How can you further ramp up the quality and candour of dialogue?

3. Balance risk with an opportunity mindset.

Resilience is powerful when it takes you beyond survival and recovery. True resilience involves having an opportunity mindset — learning from past and present, spotting opportunities in disruption and uncertainty, approaching them with curiosity and moving forward with optimism.

Are your practices oriented entirely to managing risk and navigating crisis? How could you recast things so that the same practices still capture risk, but also challenge and provoke an opportunity lens?

How will you shape the future?

Our present and future are marked by change and uncertainty. To deliver future impact, organizations must be resilient, ready to survive and thrive as they navigate both predicted and unforeseen disruption. A resilient organization reads the wind, prepares for change, and charts a course to achieve purpose and deliver value.

Now is the time for boards and directors to embed resilience in their practices and their thinking. When the only certainty is uncertainty, and the only constant is change, resilience is a mission-critical mindset and capability.

Reach out to explore how your board can advance resilience. We embed resilience factors in board evaluations and governance reviews, director feedback processes, board education, and advisory projects. We find and place resilience-ready directors and executives. Let’s talk.

Download and share the PDF of the full series:
From Nice Word to Powerful Action: The Board’s Role in Creating a Resilient Organization