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A global study ‘Organizational Resilience: A summary of academic evidence, business insights and new thinking’ has been published by BSI in partnership with Cranfield School of Management.

The report consolidates half a century of management thinking and over 180 academic papers into a single coherent approach. BSI commissioned the report in the wake of finding that less than one third of CEOs are confident about leading their firms to long term success.

According to the study conflicting management advice has left senior executives reluctant to intervene, with the subsequent organizational paralysis leading firms ‘to potentially sleepwalk into disaster’. 

The study highlights the benefits of pairing agile thinking with robust systems. Successful firms do not look to achieve ‘zero risk’, but rather experience ‘zero trauma’ from business setbacks, adapting to ensure future success. The study also sets out a clear framework for adopting organizational resilience good practice across a business. Effective leadership is essential for implementation according to the report, with executives urged to manage the tension between defence and progression, consistency and flexibility.

Three new concepts are described in the report: The Five Phases of Organizational Resilience, The Tension Quadrant, and the 4Sight Model.

Professor David Denyer, author of the study commented: “Great businesses are built by leaders prepared to take the bad with the good. They recognize the tension between consistent defensive behaviours that stop bad things happening, and progressive, flexible ideas that allow the good to prosper. Put simply, senior leaders must manage the tensions between control, action, performance and innovation if organizations are to be truly resilient – and this requires paradoxical thinking.”

Howard Kerr, Global CEO of BSI, added: “Today’s volatile business environment creates strategic tensions to which the appropriate response is rarely clear. Top executives interviewed for our report recognise that preparing for the unexpected is essential for long-term success. The Organizational Resilience Tension Quadrant identified in this report, provides leaders with clear guidance on how to take measured risks to unlock success.”

Obtain the report (registration required).

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