Tuesday, 2 December 2014

Organizational resilience: Creating more value for BC practice

Resilience is fast becoming an industry buzzword which reveals underlying changes in the way practitioners view business continuity and other ‘protective disciplines’ such as emergency planning, risk management and cyber/physical security. From the development of clear boundaries which separate disciplines in the last decade or so, work is now underway to bring these fields together into a framework of organizational resilience. However, more than just thinking about it merely as the sum of ‘protective disciplines’, organizational resilience is thought of as a strategic goal that must be driven by top management. The quality of resilience is rooted in a series of capabilities that allow organizations to get through bad times (continuity) and thrive in good/changing times (adaptability). Organizational resilience involves a coherent approach ‘from the boardroom to the storeroom’ that requires strong governance and accountability among other ‘soft’ factors.

In the UK, this development in thinking culminates with the recent launch of the new British Standard 65000 (BS 65000) which outlines the principles and provides guidance behind organizational resilience. This parallels the development of global guidance on organizational resilience or ISO 22316 which is due on April 2017.

The Business Continuity Institute realises the value of BS 65000 and the thinking that comes behind it. It affirms its premise of strengthening the collaboration among ‘protective disciplines’ in order to create a coherent approach to achieving resilience. Business continuity as a discipline has resilience at its heart and the BCM Lifecycle explicitly relates to building resilient organizations. In participating in the ongoing development of organizational resilience, the BCI makes a positive case for the ‘protective disciplines’ and enabling top management buy in into our work. It also makes practitioners responsible for resilience more visible to top management, taking their work as a matter of strategic importance to the organization.

The BCI sees itself as a constructive partner in developing organizational resilience. The latest Good Practice Guidelines address organizational resilience and its relationship with BC. Our colleagues in the BCI such as Deborah Higgins MBCI, as well as our members, have been participating in the development of BS 65000 by representing the views of practitioners. Institute events such as the recently concluded BCI World Conference have also touched upon the various aspects of the organizational resilience debate.

From the thought leadership side, the BCI is committed to developing the literature behind organizational resilience and create resources that will be beneficial to the general practitioner community. Our recent working paper ‘Conceptualising Resilience’, written months before the launch of the standard, is an introductory view of then existing literature in organizational resilience. We are aware that this work has barely touched the surface of this field and we are committed to producing more work that delves deeper into the subject.

More importantly, the BCI 20/20 Think Tank – which now has working groups in the UK and Australasia – is considering how organizational resilience will impact future BC practice. We have had several fruitful meetings this year and work is underway to produce research output in 2015. This serves to complement existing literature and encourage debate leading to better practice.

We believe that resilience is more than just a buzzword and it may possibly herald changes in the way we practice our profession in the future. It is essential therefore that we remain at the forefront of these changes and discover how these developments will create more value to our work.

Patrick Alcantara Patrick Alcantara is a Research Associate for the Business Continuity Institute who joined after finishing a Masters in Lifelong Learning with distinction from the Institute of Education (University of London) and Deusto University.

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