Organisational Resilience Blog


10/08/19 - Building Organisational Resilience – Understanding Your Environment


The UK landscape provides multiple challenges for business large and small, with many organisations having to operate within a highly dynamic environment, with many impacts being outside of their direct control. This severely impacts on the ability to conduct long-term planning as they are fighting the complex, changing environment of today, unable to direct any resources to the potential threats and opportunities of tomorrow. On the wider scale, several natural monopolies manage, maintain and operate supporting elements for the multitude of UK businesses, which contributes to the strategic running of the UK society, such as the rail and road networks, the National Power Grid and the communications networks. The ability of any one of these organisations to respond, recover and adapt to a major disruptive event is vital to the successful management of essential services which provide power, manpower or capability to UK industry; the collapse of any one of these can have a major impact across the various businesses and industries that rely on their services. Enhancing the level of organisational resilience within UK business, and its dispersed supply chain, is a critical step in the move to develop more resilience within the wider community and the UK as a nation, in line with the National Security Strategy[1].


The world in which organisations operate within is more technologically advanced, with globalisation making businesses and supply chains becoming more interdependent. Disruptive events and their impacts are becoming increasingly felt across operational, tactical and strategic operating levels and in some cases,  they can cause national and international crises. Simultaneously, organisations are being forced to diversify and innovate in order to maintain their share of the global or local markets, thus inviting risk into the daily operating model.  These organisations maintain the foundation of society by building the economy; they provide employment, wealth generation, material, services and a spirit of community. If a large organisation collapses, invariably the community within which it operates in will also feel the impact. It is impossible for any organisation to build a framework to protect it from all disruptive events; the capability is not possible, no matter the size or resource of the organisation. It is also impossible to plan for every eventuality. The skill is being able to develop the capability to adaptively think, understand the root causes of the disruptive event and dynamically plan accordingly, utilising the resources, finances and time available to minimise the impact and maximise the potential growth opportunity as competitors struggle to recover. This is the concept of organisational resilience; delivering a holistic approach to enable an organisation to dynamically respond, recover and grow in the face of disruption.


Development of resilience within organisations will build strength within communities; organisations that provide employment and purpose to communities can provide catalysts to address the negative downturn of the local community. The social decline of the communities built around the UK coal mines provide recent evidence of the impact of poor organisational resilience and the community impact at the end of the 20th Century. In the first two decades of the 21st Century the decline had spread from UK heavy industry to the more commercial aspects of UK businesses. The UK witnessed the collapse of large high street retail and department stores, such as Blockbusters[2] (2000 jobs), British Home Stores[3] (11000 jobs), Austin Reed[4] (1000 jobs), Woolworths[5] (30000 jobs), as well as the public collapse of Carillion (20000 UK jobs). These events brought to light the complexity of managing businesses in the 21st Century, highlighting the importance of organisational resilience over the more tactical activities such as risk management, business continuity and emergency planning. These events also demonstrated the social impact of poor organisational resilience, poor management of strategic risk and a failure at the strategic leadership level.


The collapse of Carillion brought to light another concern about certain operating models within the methods used to provide objective assurance to the decision-makers of large national and international organisations. Investigations conducted into the reasons for Carillion’s collapse, the decision-making and objective advice received identified the predatory aspect of the financial assurance community, with the Government investigation singling out the large firms of KPMG, Deloitte, EY and PwC as having created a monopoly and not providing an effective assurance framework for UK industry. The report highlighted that the drive for profits had impacted negatively on the ability for the companies to act independently of its customers[6], calling into question the reliability of the assurance industry and the fact that "The Big Four" had set out to create a natural monopoly, barring access to competitors[7]. This raises concerns for the quality of support and guidance given to UK industry by the same "Big Four" agencies, as these agencies advice and are woven into multiple commercial and industrial companies. The government report has raised several issues around the quality and performance around the business models and advice that these organisations have delivered to multiple companies, as well as their operating methodologies to maintain a closed market to competition. Detailed research analysis conducted in 2018 / 19 identified several trends that may impact on the UK and its commercial interests, resulting in a strategic deterioration of the UK’s influence and power across the globe and within its borders. These trends are touched upon below:


Demographic Change

Over the next 25 – 30 years the population of the globe is predicted to continue growing, reaching between 8 – 10.5 bn individuals, depending on the research document that is reviewed. This will be primarily driven by the increase in capability of medicines and health provision, which will reduce infant mortality and increase life expectancy within the older generations. It will also be fuelled by continuing high birth rates within developing nations, which will result in an increase in population migration as employment becomes more focussed within urbanised centres. The growth rates are likely to become imbalanced, with developed nations seeing a slowdown and potentially a decrease in their population due to reducing birth rates.


This may produce several areas of tension, as developing nations population seek to move out into areas of available work; with reducing working age populations, the developed nations may become reliant on migration workers, but their societies may not be tolerant of large diaspora communities. Rapid growth in developing countries may challenge the stability of weak national government or the ability of the state to provide the required resources; this may lead to conflict, exacerbated by age, gender and poverty. There is a risk this could overspill into diaspora communities within the developed nations. Within the UK, with the extraction of the Nation from the EU, the UK workforce may consist of more non-EU nationals, with the development of multi-cultural society hubs across the country. This may lead to tensions between UK borne and diaspora population, especially in areas of social depravation and high levels of unemployment. With the potential extraction of EU based industry from the UK, there may be a greater increase of Middle / Far East businesses operating within the UK borders; this may bring a clash of cultures and financial implications, with international cooperatives operating outside of UK legal frameworks, which may impact on local UK businesses and industry’s ability to recruit and retain experienced personnel.



As touched upon within the Demographic Change paragraph, there is the indication through research and analysis that up to 7bn individuals will live within urbanised centres within the next 25 – 30 years, placing extreme pressure on governments / states to conduct and manage proper city planning and critical services management. Urbanisation will rapidly increase within the developing nations, as the population demographic is leaned more towards individuals of a working age seeking not to work within agriculture, but more within commerce, industry or the technology sectors. While urbanisation may increase the output capability of a nation, enhancing economic growth and social development, if left unchecked with proper mitigation and control measures, it may result in widespread ecological / environmental damage which impacts negatively on the urbanised population. An predominately urbanised population will also demand extensive levels of infrastructure and power generation, again potentially out-stripping the capability of a developing nation. This in turn could lead to social depravation, increase in corruption and crime, conflict and potential break-down of social order.


Worst case, the rapid, uncontrolled urbanisation of developing nations may lead to the triggering of large-scale infection and disease outbreaks, new strands of drug resistant bacteria, and an increase in the number and size of humanitarian crises. If historic trends are replicated, large urban centres will be located near extensive water course ways or the coast; this places them in an increased risk of flooding, especially with the impact of environmental change of the next 25 – 30 years. Within the UK, the continued urbanisation of the population will bring increased political challenges around the destruction of the green belt, national parts and coastal land reclamation projects. The increase of urbanisation will demand enhanced transport links, power generation, health facilities and social infrastructure. Pressure will be placed onto local councils to manage an increasingly complex constituency with dwindling resources. Proposed plans for urban expansion may lead to increased social tension, public disorder and the disruption of vital services to UK businesses. The UK may need to seek the procurement of power from the EU, with tariffs / financial agreements in place due to Britain’s exit from the EU.



With the changing of demographics across the globe over the next 25 – 30 years, there is the real threat that certain areas will experience a lack of critical resources, which may fuel resource conflict, large scale demographic moves, failing nations and instability on a large scale. As the population increases, there will be a greater demand for food, yet food production may decrease due to the move towards urbanised centres, climate change, large-scale conflict and population age distribution changes. Water shortages and carbon-based fuels are likely to remain the most critical resources, though developed nations may seek a large increase in renewable energy and nuclear power being inputted into their national power grids. Within the UK there is the risk of large-scale ecological impact through the promotion of fracking, while the exploitation of large oil reserves in The Falkland Islands may lead to an increase in tensions with Argentina. There will be an increase in the levels of renewable energy sources utilised, but there may also be political and social tensions created by the introduction of more nuclear power stations and the experiencing of “brown outs” as the drive to increase the electrification of transport networks continues.


For UK based industries, those involved in the development of sustainable power production may experience a large increase in opportunity and market size, long with the nuclear sector. However, the need for resources and workforce to construct these potential opportunities, along with the technological skills, may be in limited supply as the UK experiences a reducing home-based workforce. For organisations involved in resource heavy, industrial production, there is the risk of a decline in requirement, as developing worlds will seek to obtain more of a market share to help develop their economies, under-cutting UK industry rates. Potential impacts from the UK leaving the European Union may also see an extraction of European businesses due to increased operating costs for their UK based sites, resulting in a loss of skilled workforce from the UK, or an increase in unemployment within lower skilled personnel.


The Environment

Over the nett 25 – 30 years, there is going to be an increasing demand on the natural resources and food production across the globe. A growing population will demand more food and water, power, shelter and employment opportunities, increasing the strain on the environment. Within the developing world large industrial centres will develop to create economic growth, providing the resource to change raw materials into processed goods which will then be exported to the developed nations, thus bringing financial wealth into the developing nations, while increasing the supply chain risks, issues and opportunities to the developed nations. To fuel these, centres of population will cluster around these centres, or, as climate change continues to increase the temperature of the Earth, in vulnerable areas such as coastal regions, to access increasingly scarce vital resources such as water, food, timber and arable land.


Based on current trends, the consequences of adverse weather are highly likely to be felt more keenly, with increases in highly damaging tropical storms, increased temperature fluctuations and longer winters, impacting on the localised climate. Within 30 years, climate change is likely to have more noticeable effects., with coastal populations at risk of rising sea levels, which will increase the risk of coastal flooding, particularly in regions affected by tropical cyclones. We have already seen the potential damage these events can cause in the US, the Pacific and in Bangladesh. In the more centralised, land-based regions, droughts and heatwaves are also likely to increase in intensity, duration and frequency, placing populations at risk, similar to the heatwaves that swept across Europe in 2003 and 2019, resulting in multiple deaths.


For UK industry, the next 25 – 30 years will offer some major challenges as the environment experiences changes caused by man-made and natural activities. Some of these environmental events could precipitate natural disasters which, because of the interdependencies enabled by globalisation and extended supply chain, may have consequences far beyond the site where the disaster occurs. Within the UK, there may be more extreme variations in temperature, resulting in impact to working conditions, transport link reliability and increase in flooding / severe weather events, which in turn may damage / destroy critical national infrastructure nodes. We may see more coastal and inland flooding, risk to critical national infrastructure, such as dams and power lines, or the requirement to re-design road and rail infrastructure to cope with environmental changes. This may increase cost of transporting goods, commuting rates and business taxes to cover the strategic planning and re-development. It may also result in increasing damage to ports through flooding risks or increased land erosion, forcing new structures to be built. Within river-based cities, increased flooding risk may render current business hubs unusable, or raise the rates of business insurance to cover such eventualities.


[1] D Cameron, National Security Strategy (NSS) and Strategic Defence and Security Review (SDSR) 2015, HM Government, Open Government Licence (OGL), London, 2015, p.5.

[2] G Ruddick, `Blockbuster Collapse to Cost Taxpayer £7m`, The Telegraph, reported 21 Dec 2013, available from (accessed 10 Mar 2016).

[3] H Sheffield, `BHS Collapse: Sir Philip Green Called to answer Questions`, The Independent, reported 26 April 2016, available from (accessed 10 Mar 2016).

[4] BBC Business, `Austin Reed Collapse to Cost 1000 jobs`, reported 31 May 2016, available from (accessed 10 Mar 2016).

[5] J Hall, `Woolworths: The Failed Struggle to Save a Retail Giant`, The Telegraph, reported 14 Nov 2009, available from (accessed 8 Mar 2016).

[6]House of Commons, Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy and Work and Pensions Committees, Carillion, Joint report (Second Joint report from the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy and Work and Pensions Committees of Session 2017–19), HM Government, Open Government Licence, London, 2018, p.79.

[7] HoC, Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy and Work and Pensions Committees, Carillion, Joint report, HM Government, OGL, London, 2018, pp.79 - 86.




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30/07/19 - Combating Illicit Organisations Through Building a Better Understanding of Organisational Resilience



In a complex contemporary environment, the blurring of the battlefield and the financial markets has become increasingly common, with military personnel being taught how to identify and correctly collect financial documents, credit cards and signs of financial transactions during searches within hostile areas. Due to the amorphous nature of the current threat within the contemporary arena, the UK Armed Forces and business establishments are more likely to face a simultaneous amalgam of regular and irregular opponents than a clearly defined and identifiable threat[1].


Observations of military units operating within the failing states of Iraq and Afghanistan, and, to a lesser state, Northern Ireland during the late 20th century, highlighted that there were multiple lessons identified on the capabilities of the illegal groups acting within the local societies. Though the situation created by the various conflicts was fraught with risk, there were numerous illicit organisations operating within this complex environment, either criminal or insurgency focussed, seeking to exploit the population, or destabilise the political framework, for their own advantage. To survive and thrive within this type of complex, constrained and often confined operating space, these groups have developed a high level of internal resilience, utilising a networked framework to prevent the authorities or security forces from being able to disrupt their leadership hierarchy.  This internal resilience enables them to quickly gather intelligence and adapt to changes within the population’s tolerances, political policies, potential market expansions (legal or illegal) and the introduction of security forces with new technologies, procedures or capabilities.


Understanding the resilience capability of illicit groups is more than a societal research piece; by understanding how these organisations are able to build and sustain their resilience capability, it offers a chance of being able to target security and policing efforts to break the links across the organisation, stripping away its ability to function coherently as its resilience levels drop. Resilience is no longer just an academic concept or the speciality of business; it offers an opportunity for criminal specialists or military planners to understand the key resilience capabilities, develop a means to interdict them and attack and dismantle these illicit organisations at a strategic and tactical level. This level of research, drawn from operational experiences in Northern Ireland, the Balkans, Iraq and Afghanistan, supported by academic research into the topic of resilience and conflict.

Understanding the Threat

Illicit organisations may also be adapt at identifying and managing change on a rapid and effective scale, morphing, expanding or contracting depending on the situation at the time. In Iraq, criminal elements would quickly switch operating bases depending on the patrol patterns of the UK units. In Basra, Iraq and the surrounding areas, insurgent teams would seek to adapt their approaches depending on what coalition member was conducting protective operations, switching between population coercion, direct attacks on security forces, or remote attacks through rockets and improvised explosive devices (IEDs). The same was witnessed in Afghanistan, with illicit elements conducting lessons learned activities and, at times, sharing experiences, technologies or capabilities. There was also a level of internal change capability, with these organisations having to manage dynamic internal change due to operational casualties, elements being captured, splintering of teams, amalgamation of multiple groups to create greater capability to face a larger threat.


A number of these illicit organisations have been identified to also be recruiting from disaffected communities from the UK, seeking to build an international framework for the purpose of securing a global market, or, in a more threatening situation, increase the capability of conducting a terrorist attack within the UK. These organisations increase the risk of tensions over-spilling into UK communities, affecting the stability of the nation. The range of tasks the military can expect to undertake also continues to increase[2], with concern over UK organisations funding illegal activity unknowingly, funding different warring entities, or their vulnerability to cyber-attack, such as the attack against TalkTalk telecommunications company, which resulted in 157,000 customers having their data hacked into, with 15000 losing financial data[3], costing the organisation up to £35 million immediately after the event.[4] Recent operations in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya confirm this trend of increasing complexity[5]. The military and government security and intelligence gathering agencies must increasingly work with civilian organisations to build a greater national resilience against the illicit organisations that are building their own resilience capability. This proposed inclusive approach is not just cross-governmental; it is an alliance between all those that have a stake within the complex battle-sphere that now reaches from the combat zone back to the industrial and societal base. Therefore 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 combatting irregular activity which seeks to cause a detrimental impact to the UK, from within and without.

Building Resilience Through Leadership and Awareness

Resilience is not about “bouncing back” or “bouncing forward”, rather it is about negotiating disruptive events and thriving on uncertainty, focussing on the development of the entity against an infinite timeline.[6] It is not about the resources, the financial capability or the relevant structures in place, though these all assist the process. Resilience is not something that can be achieved by any one organisation acting in isolation[7], there is a need to understand the supply chain and the customer focus. In essence it needs to by dynamically aware of Porter’s five forces and adjust accordingly to maintain its survival. Resilience is holistic[8] and those tasked to develop the resilience of the organisation must be able to influence all activity at strategic and operational levels, providing an active voice in the organisation’s direction.[9] Only by understanding fully the dynamics of any particular situation or crisis can the appropriate range of activities be planned, orchestrated[10], reviewed and evaluated. The term itself was initially mentioned in the early 1960s by CS Holling on his work within the ecological concept of the topic; in the 21st century resilience has become a “hot” topic due to the fear of climate change, risk to the global fuel reserves, and the ongoing threat of over-population of some areas, risking pandemic situations of lethal pathogens. The key component of resilience is that it does not focus on one area; it is based on the capability of the system, or system of systems, to identify, respond adapt, recover and learn from a disruptive event. Holling looked at this from the point of an eco-system, how it adapted to the various situations around it, how it shrank or grew depending on the space available to it. He also analysed how the various components worked together to maintain a balance that benefitted the eco-system.


For organisations, the capability of the leadership staff to manage a complex, dynamic situation with limited information under an intense time pressure through cognitive adaptability is critical to success. The ability for an organisation to develop its own Organisational Resilience is dependent on the internal agility of the entity, the culture that is embedded within it, and the direction and guidance of its leadership function. Organisational agility is itself built upon six pillars (components) as identified by David Alberts.[11]  The six components are Responsiveness, Robustness, Flexibility, Resilience (though in his concept it may be argued that it is component resilience rather than organisational resilience that he refers to), Innovativeness and Adaptability. Just as Organisational Resilience relies on the personal resilience of the staff within the business, the agility of an organisation relies on the ability of the staff to link their resilience with actions, strength and understanding to develop the agility to support the creation of an Organisational Resilience capability.


This capability is how the organisation will approach the situation through its ways, ends and means[12]. It needs to have three key elements to enable the successful development of resilience; an understanding of where the organisation wishes to head towards (The Endstate), the journey, or strategy, the company is going to take to develop its resilience (The Ways) and finally how it is going to resource the journey (The Means). By building the information gathering and subsequent analysis capabilities, supported through effective change management and organisational leadership structures, of an organisation, the ability to identify, prepare, react and adapt will be increased, providing a higher level of resilience to manage and recover from disruptive events. Similar to business, the outlook of the Armed Forces is to see that as a nation the UK is increasingly in a state of permanent international competition, competition that can occasionally risk becoming confrontation or conflict.”[13] The similarities for the need to develop strategic influence and vision is also key for both the Armed Forces and business, to align to the direction that the UK Government is setting for the UK Home and Foreign Policies are also quite clear. Clausewitz viewed war as “nothing more than a duel on a larger scale. Countless duels go to make up a war, but a picture of it as a whole can be formed by imagining a pair of wrestlers[14].”  

Resilience and Illicit Organisations

The first issue with this consideration is that there is still not a large amount of detailed research in existence around Organisational Resilience; there is still a level of incompleteness around what it is made up of, how it should be managed and what practices need to be implemented. This leads onto the second issue; the majority of the research has been in the legal operating sphere – few articles have considered how to build a resilience model for an illicit organisation, then how to unpick it to destroy that model that was developed. If the collaborative understanding of resilience within the legitimate business world in fragmented, the level of knowledge around the illicit business world is very limited.


Consider applying all that has been identified to the situation with Illicit Organisations; it is time to learn how the military and legitimate business builds it resilience and remains capable to operate when faced with multiple threats, then reverse engineer this approach, which can help identify the key components to target within an illicit organisation, with the right tools, to start to dismantle its resilience capability to function. It is key to note that no entity will remain static; just as businesses will seek to develop new products, illicit organisations will seek to adapt to the “grey” market, either mixing legal and illegal activities into a “hybrid” business model in the aim to obtain greater market share by reducing overheads, time or regulation to name a few areas. Through better understanding of their business models, hybrid approaches and potentially temperamental supply chains, there is an opportunity to target these various weaknesses within their resilience framework. The absence of regulation and governance may allow them a level of flexibility and drive down operating costs; at the same time there will be a lack of financial support if the market crashes or the supplies are late, or if customers stop buying their services. While the concept of Organisational Resilience is a holistic approach, it is important to understand that there is an individual aspect within the illicit groups, especially those that seek to conduct acts of subversion or terrorism. Attempting to apply a broad brush approach to these organisations is destined for failure; the examples of the UK military in Iraq and Afghanistan is evidence of this. Crime, illegal operations and terrorism are complex phenomenon to unpick and prevent due to the multi-factored input that can create them. This is where a greater understanding of the elements that contribute to organisational resilience can help; by being able to focus not just on core activities but also those that sit on the fringes, the security services may be able to start impacting on the resilience capability and longevity of such organisations.


This blog entry has aimed to raise the question about how to use a better understanding of organisational resilience to assist in the deconstruction of illegal organisations. By understanding the factors and how they are interdependent within an organisation, specific targeting of certain factors may result in a detrimental effect on other areas. There are several methods that businesses and security services can achieve this, though it will be a protracted experience as illicit organisations, similar to legitimate businesses, will seek to learn and adapt to potential threats that it identifies. Having worked closely with security organisations to develop a capability within Iraq and Afghanistan to destabilise, reduce and then dismantle illicit organisations within the complex operating environment, it became apparent that several of the tools being used had their origins in business change processes and tools. This was particularly apparent in the information and intelligence gathering activities, which, for industry, would not be very dissimilar to stakeholder engagement, mapping and business analysis activities. What has become very apparent within other research is that the analysis and effective processing of information into intelligence is poorly conducted within UK industry; this regularly results in lost productivity or failed programmes.


As these organisations may be implementing a hybrid business model, this approach may require a blend of financial, legal, security and political activities to slowly unpick one element at a time, helping to unravel the Gordian Knot that organised crime has become for nation states. Current business is fighting a confrontational campaign against illicit organisations which seek to destabilise the market for their own benefit; rather than operating in silos, businesses and security organisations, similar to the those entities within the failed or failing states, need to work closer together, across all spectrums of commerce and information gathering, to build their own resilience, and also to target and reduce the resilience of the illicit entities that are operating across the globe. The requirement to understand the organisational resilience framework within businesses and how to reverse engineer it to deconstruct an entity is crucial to increasing the pressure on illicit organisations and impacting on their illegal activities. By stripping away the components of their resilience, security services can improve their targeted interventions, being able to focus on factors that may cause maximum impact to the organisation but require minimum resources to implement. As the majority of resource into organisational resilience has been focussed on assisting legitimate organisations prepare and survive, there is the need to conduct detailed research into this area, either on the streets of major cities in the UK or examine the war-torn suburbs of failing nations. Either area will start to identify key components that illicit organisations require for their resilience; components that become the vital ground for security services to disrupt in order to deny these organisations the ability to function effectively.


[1] MoD JDN 2/07 (2007) Countering Irregular Activity within a Comprehensive Approach, DCDC. P.1-1.

[2] JDN 3/11 (2011) page 1-1.

[3] Farell, S. (2015) The Guardian: Nearly 157000 had data breached in Talk Talk cyber attack, dated 6 Nov 2015.

[4] Thomas D., (2015) Financial Times: TalkTalk warns cyber attack costs could could rise to £35m, dated 11 Nov 2015; dated 11 Nov 2015.

[5] JDN 3/11 (2011) 1-1.

[6] Newnham (2012),

[7] Seville et al (2010) p.2

[8] Newnham (2012), p.3

[9] Newnham (2012)ty, p.4

[10] BDD JDP 0-01 p.1-11.

[11] Alberts D. S.,(2013) “Agility, Focus and Convergence: The Future of Command and Control, The International C2 Journal, Vol 1: 1.

[12] Jermy S., (2011) Strategy for Action: Using Force wisely in the 21st Century, Knightstone Publishing, London, p.18.

[13] Houghton N., (2014) Chief of Defence Staff Speech, RUSI, published in JDN 1/15: Defence Engagement, MoD, p.iv.

[14] Clausewitz C., (1997) On War (abridged), Wordsworth classics, London. P.5




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21/07/19 Squared Apples Presents ORM3 Framework


Five years in development, members of Squared Apples have recently circulated the Oraganisational Resilience Management Maturity Model (ORM3), presenting it at the Resilience Association in London, and then the Business Continuity Institute in Utrecht, Holland.


The framework has been the culmination of a PhD research programme, analysing lessons from UK military, international business and UK heavy industry.  During the research, individuals from UK military, industry, local government, international practitioners and the BCI were consulted on their thoughts about the absence of an Organisational Resilience framework. Key to the development of ORM3 was the regular engagement with the Resilience Association and, in its latter stages, discussions with the Resilience Center in Telford.


Working together with the Resilience Association and the Business Continuity Institute, Squared Apples has been able to hoild open discussion forums around the organisational resilience domain, building greater awareness of the need for resilience to move from the shop floor to the C-Suite level. Research in multiple countries has demonstrated that the majority of failures of large businesses are down to strategic leadership miscalculations, leading to financial, performance or reputational damage; normally all three. By understanding that an organisation is a system of systems, and therefore the resilience approach needs to follow a similar approach, then we can begin to build a greater awareness and capability of how to build, embed and sustain a resiliecne culture across an organisation.


Further information is available on the model in the slideshow featured in the Whats New section, which gives a high level of the research approach and the components of the framework. If you wish to discusss the framework in detail, please contact us here




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09/04/2018 - What is the Cost to Community Resilience of Poor Strategic Leadership?


The current situation within the halls of power of Westminster is constantly demonstrating two warring parties who are losing situational awareness of what is actually happening across the UK. As the Brexit question continues to shatter the fabric of communities, depending on whether you are "in" or "out", there is an increasingly apparent trend of poor strategic leadership decisions now returning to haunt the ministers that made them; there is also the failure to admit them. Is this a failure of moral courage to accept mistakes and address the issues at hand?


Austerity policies have caused a number of issues that have resulted in the environment to create increased violent crime. The impact of these issues have decreased the resilience of the communities across the UK and the ability to provide adequate security and local intelligence gathering. These issues are:

  • Reduction in community centres;
  • An over-stretched, under-resourced and under-funded NHS, with some trusts not having enough vehicles to cover critical activities;
  • Ongoing poor pay and support for teachers, resulting in children being poorly educated for the workplace;
  • Limited emotional resilience support for teachers and young people;
  • Decrease in police on the streets (21000 personnel), resulting in a reduction in community engagement and a loss of local intelligence networks;
  • Reduction of the Armed Forces capability, impacting on national resilience and ability to respond to critical national threats;
  • Failure to build a way forward for the next generation, resulting in an increase in the younger population seeking to find other ways;
  • Eroding of the UK's international standing within key influential organisations, such as the EU, The Commonwealth, the G8 and NATO;
  • A rapid increase in the number of children living in poverty;
  • A continuous attack on local councils to reduce funding, which in turn leads to a deconstruction of social support frameworks;
  • Increasing council taxes, pushing more families into poverty; and
  • An increase in the homeless on our streets.

If we were to look at this situation through another lens we may see things differently. Applying the framework that the UK military sought to apply in two Resilience building campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan, we can observe how these issues would be treated in combat. Using the guidance of Templar (Malaya), Patreaus (Iraq) or McChrystal (Afghanistan), if you are fighting a counter insurgency, the issues listed above are the things you seek address quickly through the provision of resources, as well as to provide the host nation its own integral capability to fight the lure of the insurgent.


This is not a situation just for the Middle East; this approach was also used in Northern Ireland to help stop the ongoing slaughter during the OIRA / PIRA insurgency campaign. What it does demonstrate though is that the current UK government, across all parties, have lost sight of the bigger picture, with the majority of focus being spent on Brexit. Discuss.




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20/10/2017 - Building a Business Continuity Framework


The British Standards Institute identified that 0ver 43% of SMEs had no IT continuity plan, while the Charterer Management Institute indicated that the average cost of severe weather disruption was approx. £52k. The CMI also highlighted that 86% of UK business owners recognised the importance of a business continuity framework, though only 63% had one in place. Of those individuals that had a Business Continuity framework in place, 87% indicated that when activated it reduced... the impact of a disruptive event. If you’re looking to build a continuity framework within your business, follow these tips;


• Build an initial business case to identify what are the key components of your business that needs protecting, the cost if operations are disrupted or lost, and the available funds you have to initiate the development of a continuity plan;


• Invest in your staff capabilities and development rather than outsourcing the development of your continuity plan; 80% of your continuity plan being successful relies on your staff knowing what to do and when. If they have been involved in its development they will provide a far greater agile edge for your company during disruptive events;


• Conduct an indepth risk analysis and SWOT to understand what disruptive events, positive and negative, may impact on your business. A good Business Continuity framework is the outcome of a holistic approach of adaptive leadership, an inclusive organisational culture and a shared understanding of disruptive events and available resources;


• Your risk analysis needs to conduct a full analysis of all risks, including your supply chain, staff capabilities, internal structures and organisational frameworks;


• Build a natural level of redundancy within your structure through the integration of business continuity activities into of all business activities; business continuity is fundamental to building resilience. Resilience is cultural, supported by business processes such as risk management, business continuity and resource management;


• Utilise business intelligence to build situational awareness to create the relevant responses needed; this will enable the organisation to effectively prepare, react, recover, learn and improve from disruptive events;


• Develop the capability of Red-Teaming and regular review of your business continuity framework within the organisation at all levels; build a culture of consented dissent to build capability and avoid potential crisis events;


• Develop a strong leadership model to support your staff during disruptive events and create the feeling of empowerment to enable rapid response and decision making during disruptive events;


• Build a level of understanding within your customer base and supply chain to identify key operational elements to keep going in order to release resources to manage disruptive events; and


• Develop a culture of learning lessons; both from yourself and from others to support your business development.




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10/09/2017 - Building Organisational Resilience


In the current global market place, the political, financial and cultural pressures being placed upon the modern business personnel are often draining, pulling physical and emotional strength to the limit. Individuals try to juggle their priorities - work, family, friends, interests, in a bid to obtain a balance. Often the pressure of all these can generate their own self driving pace, which rapidly becomes overwhelming and potentially destructive. This in turn removes the effectiveness of the individual in their business role, resulting in a reduction in both personal and organisational resilience.


As a thought leader in the area of organisational resilience, Squared Apples has offered some tips for building your resilience to these pressures that exist in the workplace. Whether as a business or an individual, these tips can help if you are experiencing a significant disruptive event at work, or just in life in general.


A number of resilience experts describe resilience is defined as the ability to bounce back or recover well from change. This is not totally accurate; this definition is more based within the discipline of Business Continuity rather than Resilience. Rather than bouncing back, organisations, or individuals, with a high level of resilience seek to take advantage of the situation and thrive while their competitors around them struggle.. So what are the characteristics that these organisations or individuals possess that enables them to react and adapt to their situation quicker and more effective than others? Squared Apples research into organisations with a high level of organisational and staff resilience, such as the military, emergency services and financial institutions points to following key characteristics:


Vision and Purpose

Organisations with a high level of resilience have identified a clear sense of purpose, values, direction of travel, which is aligned with the high-level purpose, mapped through a number of established goals which are aligned to the strategy. The organisation has a strong learning lessons framework, effective governance and well developed problem-solving skills.


Belief and Confidence

When organisations invest in strong governance frameworks, enhanced skills development and the design and implementation of a competence framework, its workforce become more effective, thus building resilience. Individuals feel competent, they have effective strategies for coping with disruptive events and are able to cope better with stress. Managers and individuals have strong self-esteem, believe in the organisation and focus on their skills and abilities. With a lessons learned framework, the organisation develops a learning and growth mindset. When things go wrong, the leadership ask themselves, “What did we learn from that?”


Strong Social Support Framework

Organisations that develop strong business and personal relationships with others generally create a stronger resilience framework. By having good supportive commercial relationships, organisations understand that seeking support can help the organisation, industry sector or individuals overcome adverse situations, rather than trying to cope individually. Organisations can also provide collective support to others, but not at the expense of self, during difficult situations; a good example of this was the collective decision of the staff of the John Lewis Group to sacrifice their 2008 bonus payments in order to save one of their major outlets. Organisations build and sustain themselves as they understand that if they are not strong they are can’t support other industry partners, or, in the worst case, their own workforce.


Agility, Adaptability and Flexibility

Organisations that develop a high level of resilience have an inherent agility within their corporate framework, obtained through workforces and structures that are flexible and adaptable to changing situations which are beyond their control. The agility also reaches to the decision-making process, enabling wicked problems to be managed through dynamic response, crisis management and early engagement. As an organisation there is a clear understanding of capability, resources and the critical components of the company to maintain momentum. These organisations cope well with change because they are optimistic for the future due to the preparation they have engaged in; they see the opportunity to thrive as their competition struggle, rather than the threat that the change may bring.


Build Team Ethos and Sense of Empowerment

As a manager, or a leader within an organisation, you can build your resilience with these tips:


·     Develop positive attitudes and emotions within your teams early;


·     Spend time getting clarity on a sense of purpose, team objectives and organisational goals;


·     Develop contingency strategies for potential disruptive events and practice them regularly. Use discussions, table top exercises and exec study days;


·     Establish, build and sustain a supportive social and professional network; be unafraid to share ideas across the business sector to build trust early;


·     Ensure that you look after yourself through exercise, rest, and healthy eating. As the leader / manager, you set the example for the team;


·     Create time to do team building events that strengthen understanding and the team ethos; and


·     Recognise and develop the strengths within the team; do not be afraid to invest in individual and team CPD events; this builds trust within the team as well as enhancing their capability.


These are a few ideas to spark discussion and informed debate on the building of resilience across the UK private and public sectors. Please feel free to leave any thoughts / comments below.


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23/12/16 - Is the Resilience of the Union Threatened by Brexit?


As Northern Ireland now seeks to lodge a formal challenge to the extraction of the UK from the EU and Scotland, under Nicola Sturgeon, explores the option of another independence referendum, does Brexit pose the biggest threat to the resilience of the United Kingdom?


The 23rd June 2016 saw the UK, as a nation, vote to leave the European Union. On closer examination however, the figures do not tell the true story. Only England and Wales voted to leave, with Northern Ireland, Scotland and Gibraltar voted to remain. The result of Brexit resulted in social and political divisions becoming highly visible, the senior leadership of the UK police forces reporting an increase in racist attacks within the southern counties of England and a change in political leadership. For approximately three months the nation remained leaderless, with key political decision making processes placed on hold, priority given to the preparation and implementation of the Brexit decision.


Now Scotland and Northern Ireland seek ways to remain within Europe, risking the splitting of the Union. Brexit was supposed to offer a choice for the UK, to demonstrate democracy and the ability of the nation to forge its own destiny within a modern Europe. Instead, Brexit has become the greatest threat to the survival of the Union, a threat that is becoming more tangible by the day as political parties and devolutionised nations now move to forge their own destiny, potentially separate to that of England. As the tidal wave of emotion now settles, the political and social shockwaves now become very apparent, with the United Kingdom becoming dis-united about the Brexit decision.


Please feel free to leave your thought on this topic below; remember that this is a public website seeking to promote considered debate on the subject of resilience. Please write your comments accordingly.


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