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Resilience Discussion Papers

 

These SQUARED APPLES discussion papers seek to explore the concept of Resilience across the business and industry sectors. They are aimed at sparking discussion and debate, with the end goal of increasing awareness across buisness sectors. The papers cover the following areas:

 

  • Building a strategic understanding of a crisis;
  • Obtaining the edge within the market;
  • Building organisational resilience within today's complex environment; and
  •  Understanding what is organisational resilience.

 

Please see below for a synopsis of each business research article. If you wish to read the whole report, for free please contact us below.

 

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Business Research Paper 4: The Importance of building a Strategic Understanding of Potential Crises.

Recent lessons and experience from the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, the most severe of storms to strike the US prior to Hurricane Harvey, presented opportunities to mitigate some of the effects of another devastating weather event. As this paper discusses, a number of those lessons have not been fully implemented, while in some areas there have been backward steps since the Trump administration entered the Whitehouse. This paper seeks to generate some thoughts about potential opportunities for business by reviewing how a US organisation responded to Hurricane Katrina, as well as analysing some of the lessons that seem to have been missed when responding to Hurricane Harvey.

Business Research Paper 3: Gaining the Edge in  Business Through Counter Insurgency Know How.

In the current chaotic climate that the UK business framework is operating within, we are regularly hearing about the need for greater resilience within individuals, organisations and communities. As businesses are re-adjusting to the financial, psychological, social and reputational impacts of Brexit and are attempting to understand what the future landscape holds for them, resilience has become identified as the key strategic element that organisations, no matter their size or framework, require to stay afloat during these changing times.

Business Research Paper 2: Clausewitz and Building Organisational Resilience in Today’s Complex  Environment

In contrast to the Cold War experience of inter-state conflict framed by the interests and postulations of two super powers, the blurring of the tactical, operational and strategic boundaries has become increasingly common. Corporate and military actions are now intertwined, with each affecting the potential success of the other. The ability for the military, business sectors, law enforcement agencies and government departments to work together to develop national resilience through the creation of organisational resilience is critical to enable the UK commercial and industrial sectors to thrive during these difficult and turbulent times.

Business Research Paper 1: What is the importance of Organisational Resilience?

This first paper in a series seeks to explore the concept of Resilience within the business world. As the need for Organisational Resilience takes shape within a complex and fluctuating business space, this paper analyses currents thoughts on the topic.

The ideas and concepts discussed seek to create discussion and debate around the topic in the bid to increase awareness and understanding.

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  • Colm Gayton (Sunday, July 07 19 09:26 pm BST)

    Clausewitz, The Military and Building Organisational Resilience in Today’s Complex Operating Environment

    Really topical subject at the moment within the Financial Services as Bank of England pushes for ‘Operational Resilience’ capabilities. Personally I’m disappointed that they haven’t gone pushed organisational resilience so that an organisation is forced to look at its culture in a more in-depth manner but I suspect that organisations will do the bare minimum to meet the guidance, and will forsake any real change that would make themselves more sustainable in the longer term.

    Fundamentally agree with the key points made in the article around strategic intent, adaptive capacity (from both lens – MoD and Business) and components of Incident Management / Command. Nicely wrapped up with Clausewitz’s theory. I’ve read aspects of his workings – including some of the thoughts drawn up from experiences in the Falklands – ‘Not mentioned in Dispatches’ – Restrictive and Directive Leadership.

    Some of your thoughts on failure are drawn out in more depth in the Book ‘Losing Small Wars’ (Frank Ledwidge) – worth a read if you haven’t already. Similarly have been a big advocate of ‘Red Teaming’ for quite some time. Many IT departments often have ‘Red Teaming’ in place but I do feel that the overall organisation is missing a trick by not applying it to their strategic planning. I’ve recently looked at ‘Competitive Intelligence’ theory to see how that might improve ‘horizon scanning’. Have you ever consider reviewing ‘Competitive Intelligence’ to improve Strategic Intent? I also often wonder, when an organisation has taken a significant hit after a disruptive incident, that there isn’t a fundamental review of the strategic intent – Did that strategic course cause the incident to occur in the first place? Can the organisation now meet its strategic objectives if this disruptive incident has impacted its reputation or had financial implications etc.?

    This is a harder read than the 1st paper above. I have an understanding of the concepts being highlighted but I imagine once Clausewitz is mentioned, it will switch off the non-military readers. Good to see ‘Red Teaming’ in the article. It’s a tool, as mentioned above, that for me doesn’t get enough traction in the resilience circle.

  • Colm Gayton (Sunday, July 07 19 09:24 pm BST)

    The importance of building strategic understanding of potential crises

    Interesting paper – I was in Houston just after Katrina, and met some of the displaced New Orleanians, ranging from a Dentist to a Construction Labourer. All highlighted that they felt let down by the Federal Government, in responding adequately. And they all praised Walmart, amongst others for providing some relief, but more importantly, a sense of normalcy in some local areas after the event, in a situation that was anything but normal.

    100% agree on your assessment of FEMA. It’s been politicised beyond all recognition now. The last truly remarkable response by FEMA was the OKC Bombing. Probably the best case study for multi-agency responses I’ve seen. And it worked because of the relationships already in place – The FEMA coordinators were also well known to each other and were able to integrate the additional federal resources. It also helped that they’d run a scenario exercise about 8 months earlier on a similar event occurring (which has provided endless conjecture from Conspiracy Theorists). It gave them that ‘*Cognitive Adaptability’ edge as the situation unfolded (*Love that description by the way!)

    Maybe there’s just more US case studies (given the nature of risks they face on a daily basis) but there always seem to cultural issues at the heart of under-performance when it comes to crises. As with the Weather Service, and I’ve never looked particularly close at their overall performance, but it seems, from your paper, that the issues of poor reporting, situational awareness, decision-making, mixed messages etc., all stem from a very poor ‘resilience facing’ culture. However, Walmart, in this situation, bucks the trend. My personal feeling is that Walmart doesn’t recover from the reputational issues it faced before Katrina. It was their saving grace. That said, whilst, their intentions were indeed noble, I suspect initially, as you mention, it was driven by protecting their stores (and revenue in the region). They quickly understood the scale of the impacts, adapted their logistics and saw an opportunity to help support communities above and beyond what I suspect they’d anticipated. Really strong leadership (and horizon scanning / situational awareness). They also pushed the decision-making to a local level, which I think allowed greater flexibility within what was otherwise a centralised system (Walmart’s logistics are really interesting!) Some of the local New Orleans Banks were operational 2 days after the storms, helping home owners with insurance, cash and other services that helped locals help themselves.

    One of the key points for me too, around the planning for Harvey that was informed by Katrina, was Animal Welfare. In Katrina, there was no provision for animal welfare. This ended up costing many lives as pet owners wouldn’t leave their pets behind. When the flooding hit, often the animals would survive but the owners wouldn’t. I believe FEMA has put in significant time into developing an animal welfare process now.

    Agree with the key points about ‘information flow’ and ‘sharing’ of information. Seen it many times in organisations, where key information has been used as leverage for internal kudos, as opposed to being shared for the greater good. I’d also agree on the ‘organisational learning’ – I’ve yet to see any organisation I’ve worked in, to adequately facilitate lessons identified, and turn them into lessons learnt. Observations suggest that once an issue or gap is identified, once it goes onto a spreadsheet or word document, that it somehow magically fixes itself.

    I’d also agree on the critical infrastructure issues you highlight, and the issues on funding allocation. This has been an issue since forever in the US. New Orleans levees had funding reallocated to other state projects, even though the engineers advised they were in poor condition and needed (and I’m a bit rusty here) about three times the allocation originally earmarked. I’m always wary of the bridges in the US as I believe one report has over 60% in a poor state.

    Completely agree with the statement about resilience in individuals, especially in the US. They’ve become so dependent on local, state and federal resources that they have almost lost the ability to manage / fend / think for themselves. It’s a sad state of affairs, and I suspect one that is also rampant this side of the pond.

    I do think there’s a further paper out of this paper, looking at the ‘cognitive adaptability’ of Senior Management Teams when faced with such decisions faced by Texas Leadership. If you could better understand what causes paralysis or the ‘blind-spots’ often overlooked, I think there’s a jump forward in Crisis Management right there. It might improve the overall planning phase too.

    My only issue with the paper – You’re not a fan of Trump. I get that. However it takes away from some very key points you make. We know that Trump is way out of his capability zone (if indeed he has any) and I agree that him misreading the situation on the ground, similar to Bush, is worth noting but did it distract from the response of FEMA for Harvey versus the Katrina response under Bush. FEMA has become a political football (with the feet, not the American style!).

    Really enjoyed the article. Have copious notes written up for my own future research!

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  • Charles Thomas (Wednesday, December 21 16 09:32 am GMT)

    I have found my working life frustrated by a lack of various characteristics in the management systems and managers I have worked within and for over the nearly forty years since Commissioning into the Territorial Army and my subsequent rise up the c of c to Command. Principles of War, Seven Questions and the Orders process - the military at large - are all very adaptable to the business, and public service, world. I found the paper insightful. I must read papers 1 and 2 which I now see are below.

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