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City of London Central London

Learn Now. Recover Resilient.

09 Nov 2020


While we continue adapting and evolving to the uncertainty that the pandemic is bringing, there are so many other matters affecting how we try to carry on with our lives and our livelihoods; the impacts of leaving the European Union still loom, societal division hits the headlines alongside community resolve, recession continues to impact on bottom lines and food on the table, and global politics always keeps us guessing…

It has often been said that there are opportunities in all of these events, there is no guarantee however, that these opportunities are going to be easy to take. What we can try to do is to learn from what is happening in our businesses and our lives and try to make sure the opportunities we can take, will create more robust businesses for the future; turn “lessons identified” into “lessons learned.”

In the IoD’s response to coronavirus restrictions returning to England, Jon Geldart, Director General of the IoD said of the Government response to the pandemic so far, his hopes that, “gaps in government support must be sorted at long last.” We have all felt where there have been areas for support to be stronger, now these have to be acted upon.

This learning and recovery process isn’t something that should be left until a situation or disruption is over, it needs to happen in tandem; as much as everyone is responding to changes on a continuous basis nowadays, we can’t take our eyes off the long-term recovery. If we can build our own resilience into that recovery, we will all be that much stronger against disruptions in future.

In trying to make our organisations stronger, it is important to understand what we do that we can’t stop; a lot of us are realising that our priorities aren’t what we thought they were. As board members, directors and leaders we have the strategic oversight and authority to be able to put our resources where they need to be, but have you spoken to your teams to check that they agree? Have they had what they needed, where they needed it, when they needed it? There’s nothing to say they have to agree, but it is important to understand and to communicate any differences, the reasons why, and what needs to change moving forward.

Business continuity is a process around being able to carry on as much of our priority activity as possible when disruption occurs, and it looks at impact on some key areas:

  • People
  • Space
  • Connectivity
  • Data
  • Suppliers

Whether the scenario is a group of staff contracting food poisoning at a staff party or public transport disruption, the potential impact on our organisations is a reduction in the number of staff available to us; what are the immediate, key priorities that we have to maintain to some degree, and how?

Of course, every organisation is unique and will have their own unique risks. We need to understand how these have changed over time so we can embed the learning and resilience into our recovery and evolve stronger.

Some organisations have statutory duties to consider how resilient they are but being resilient also makes business sense; if we’re more resilient, the impact of a disruption will be lessened, and we can recover faster.

Resilience also protects our people and ourselves.

In a practical sense, the same resilience principles can apply to our personal lives as our organisations. What are the key things you depend on at home and what would you do if you lost access to them at 8pm on a Sunday evening? You’ve identified the key suppliers for your business during your Brexit preparations, but who are the key suppliers to your household and how would you contact them if you needed to? Where’s that torch (and batteries) you put away “safely,” so you can conserve your phone battery to call ‘105’ (if you’re in England, Scotland or Wales) to report that your electricity’s just gone off?

For so many people, 2020 has had an unimaginable impact on their lives.

Writing the words “personal resilience” makes it feel like a cold and heartless concept however, the impact is anything but. We must take the time to reflect and process what has happened to us over recent times, but we must also make that the acceptable norm. People will do that in their own way though, and as leaders we have to be open to that and provide the opportunities. Some of us are “lone wolves” in our business but from the sole trader to the CEO of a global organisation and everyone in between, we must find safe coping mechanisms that will protect our own wellbeing and that of those around us. There are people who need formal, structured, professional support, some will need a cup of coffee and a chat, some will just need a “thank you” or a “hi, how are you?” As leaders and as people, can we do that?

Stay safe.

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