Brian Sims

COVID-19 “changes perception” of organisational resilience

ACCORDING TO the latest Business Continuity Institute (BCI) Crisis Management Report – which is sponsored by International SOS – the COVID-19 pandemic has changed the perception of organisational resilience at the senior management level. Indeed, the survey results show that there has been an increase in the level of education on resilience issues as well as an increased appreciation of the importance of organisational resilience as a discipline.

Business continuity professionals are aware – and understand the importance – of the concept of organisational resilience. However, this truism doesn’t apply to everyone within an organisation. Through the years, and through different pieces of research, the BCI has often reported on how difficult it is to engage top management when it comes to understanding and, consequently, implementing organisational resilience.

According to ISO 22316:2017, organisational resilience is “the ability of an organisation to absorb and adapt in a changing environment to enable it to deliver its objectives and to survive and prosper”. Research has shown that if an organisation develops its crisis management structure around the principals of organisational resilience, it’s then far better placed to survive during and after a crisis event.

Another interesting result from the report is how top management engagement and appreciation of crisis management has improved as a result of the pandemic. In some organisations, the pandemic has pushed the level of top management engagement down to exercises. Professionals are using the momentum to ensure that this new appreciation remains in place in the long run even after the pandemic is over.

Poor crisis management

In the past – and as evidenced by several BCI research reports such as the Horizon Scan Report – many professionals have highlighted that the ‘siloing’ of information, lack of collaboration and an underappreciation of the importance of organisational resilience has led to crises being poorly managed. In some organisations, it was also questioned as to who the crisis management champion should be. According to some, the CEO isn’t suitable for this role.

When it comes to top management involvement during a crisis, the BCI Crisis Management Report shows mixed results. While some organisations have reported varying degrees of input and trust from senior management, others mention that management has a high degree of trust in their tactical and operational teams and only requested to be informed of decisions made.

In some cases, senior management have taken on the decision-making role due to incumbent working practices and/or a lack of trust in the ability of individuals and/or departments to make their own decisions.

Crucial factor

How organisational resilience is perceived by top management – and how it’s embedded within a company’s culture – is a crucial factor in how effective the response will be in the face of a crisis. This encompasses different elements such as trust, collaboration and communication.

The BCI’s Crisis Management Report shows that a given team’s ability to interact with other functions and the ‘network’ culture is one of the key factors that enables the organisation to endure a crisis effectively.

*The BCI’s Crisis Management Report is now available to download by visiting the website 

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