Back in October of last year I wrote about the need to stop debating the meaning of resilience and just try to build the capability as we each perceive it. As Liisa Valikangas exhorted
“resilience is not a strategy; it is a rehearsal. In fact, it is a constant practice.”
I was reminded of how simple it could be to actually start on this journey by two recent blog posts. The first is another reference to the the CARRI blog, where they suggest that resilience (in a community context) is about managing change.
In the four years these guys have been exploring the concept of resilience they moved from the old school thinking that defined resilience in terms of “Anticipate, Limit Impacts, Respond, Recover.” to a broader understanding. You could change the word ‘community’ to ‘organisation’ in this passage and still get excellent guidance.
“If we think about it, we could shorten that to “Manage Change.” A resilient community tries to understand what the future world may look like, so that it can anticipate what changes it may be facing. A resilient community assesses itself, to see where it is in terms of vitality, resources, and strengths and weaknesses. It tries to buffer itself against the threats it may face, and evolve in a manner to take advantage of opportunities the future affords.
A resilient community does this as one, involving as many in the community as possible, and from all sectors. It thus builds its internal connections, so that when unexpected adversity arises, it has the ability to rapidly respond and recover – to cope, adjust, adapt. Thus, in a very real sense, community resilience is all about managing change.”
The second blog post was from management guru Rosabeth Moss Kanter. She was talking about what we need to do to get value from our values. Many organisation have words that they bandy around and claim these are their values – but too often they are just words on a page. In many cases resilience is just another one of these words.
Kanter suggests that values need to be aspirational. They have to signal our long-term intentions and guide thinking about the future. To achieve this the meaning and application of the values needs to be discussed with staff, suppliers and all our business partners.
“In short, it’s not the words that make a difference; it’s the conversation. Frequent discussion about organizational values can be engaging and empowering. The organization becomes a community united by shared purpose, which reinforces teamwork and collaboration.”
Simple ideas that anybody can start to apply.
A resilient organisation has to have a sense of community – it needs to have shared values, and it needs to aspire to being resilient.
If you want to advance the cause of resilience in your organisation (or community), express it in simple terms such as improving our ability to manage and adapt to change. An idea that is easy for people to grasp and build on makes it easier for them to be engaged in the conversation.
Engage in the conversation with all your staff, stakeholders and partners. A conversation is not just publishing plans, posters and policy statements – timely advice given the annual deluge of talking at people that can accompany BCAW.
When your conversations have established that shared understanding of the resilience you aspire to – rehearse and practice the collaboration in your day-to-day problem solving.
Resilience is a journey, not a destination. And a journey of a thousand miles starts with the first step, or more precisely, it starts from where you are currently standing.