Emma Ylivainio

By Emma Ylivainio


An organization’s resilience – or flexibility in response to change – refers to the organization’s ability to operate flexibly in unexpected circumstances. Resilience also refers to being agile and having the capacity for continuous learning and self-development. In this blog post, we’ll go through some of the aspects of resilience and discuss how they can be used as indicators in organizational development. We’ll also tell you how to carry out our resilience analysis, which helps you to chart your organizational strengths as well as areas in need of development.

Resilience has been a hot topic during the pandemic. It refers to an organization’s ability to anticipate, prepare for, react and adapt to change and sudden crises in a way that allows it to stay operational – and sometimes even thrive. We find ourselves in a situation where change has now been forced upon most organizations, whether we’re talking about remote work, customers suddenly disappearing, restrictions brought about by the exceptional circumstances, or having to redesign one’s entire business idea. Now that every societal structure has been put to the test, we may have noticed those features in our organizations that either advance or hinder adaptation. The question is, what should we do about them?

A resilient organization can be recognized by its ability to stay operational, to recover quickly, to adapt to new situations and to develop its modes of action while keeping an eye out for coming changes. All these features have always been important, but they become highlighted in crises and global economic fluctuations, in particular.

Aspects of organizational resilience

The adaptability and flexibility of an organization is influenced by several factors, such as

1. the organization’s decision-making process

2. The rate at which messages are communicated within the company

3. How well the employees are prepared for change

To discuss these points, we created a model comprising altogether seven elements of resilience, described in more detail below

This central element features the prevalent organizational attitude towards the surrounding world, change and internal working methods. The attitude the organization has towards change is one of the most important factors affecting resilience.

The management culture and the promotion of self-direction have an great impact on situations in which it’s important to make quick decisions or act fast. The management culture and possibility for self-direction are, in turn, greatly affected by the traits of the organization and vary depending on whether the organization is a public actor, a big international company or a start-up.

A vision that’s been created to stand the test of time will also carry the organization through changes. The purpose of an organization or a five-year objective help to make decisions and act as a compass in unpredictable circumstances.

Adaptivity refers to the agile nature of internal processes and to the staff’s ability to adapt to new situations. While having agile processes in place is important, an organization increases its chances of carrying out a successful change if it is also able to give support to individuals.

Openness builds trust and creates an organizational culture that allows for a multitude of voices. Good planning can also increase the effectiveness of communication across the organization.

Agile innovation can help an organization move on from change situations. Continuously honing one’s services and products creates customer value that helps in overcoming crises. The questions is: Is innovation part of the everyday operations of the organization or something it practices only now and then?

The risks organizations’ operations present can be identified with tools such as risk analyses and scenarios. Traditionally, risk analyses are used when talking about production chains and natural disasters, but we want to use to them to assess various digital and cultural risks. Scenarios are great for creating future prospects, which can be used to reflect on the sustainability of existing processes.

We combined the elements above to create Vincit’s organizational resilience analysis. Click on the link if you want to find out more about the challenges and targets for development that your organization may have.

A holistic approach to organizational sustainability

But what do these elements have to do with business? In order to survive any crisis, an organization needs to have a clear idea about how it’s protecting its core business, but the big picture matters as well. For example, adopting tools that increases transparent communication builds trust across the organization and promotes the idea of being in it together. Adapting decision-making to be more agile, on the other hand, allows the organization to make quick changes when a crisis hits or prepare for future events using scenarios. Resilience stems from learning from one’s mistakes and from the ability to change – it’s important to remember that making one change doesn’t make the organization resilient, just an organization that has changed.

A resilient organization isn’t lulled into believing that digitalization doesn’t affect its industry or that consumers’ interest in responsible trade doesn’t impact its production processes. Instead, the organization prepares itself by listening to quiet signals or even by leading innovation development in its sector. It understands that all these things are required to maintain its competitiveness. All in all, the greatest value lies in identifying those areas that, during a crisis, weakened the organization in the first place.

Resilience as an indicator of future success

As the world we know is in turmoil, it’s easy to start talking about change and survival. Those organizations that are most likely to be able to renew themselves can be recognized by their courage to let go of the old, their ability to connect innovation and strategy, their willingness to embrace digitalization, and their mission, which serves a higher purpose. Now’s the time for every organization to take a moment to think about what these things mean for them.
To help with the process, we’ve developed a resilience analysis, which includes questions related to the various elements of resilience. The test will reveal the type of organization that most resembles yours and gives you insight on your organization’s strengths and areas of improvement. There is nothing permanent except change – so why not take the chance to explore your ability to take on new challenges!

Let's do the analysis

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