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  • Joshua Wilson

Focusing on Organizational Resilience - carefully tending to your team

Our B Cognition Labs organizational assessment looks at the three critical metrics for understanding how your organization is doing in a comprehensive way. This post looks at metric number three, Organizational Resilience.

Organizational Resilience, or OR, is about growing your organization thoughtfully. It’s a complex system that needs to be observed, tended, and nurtured, as an ecologist might steward a native forest. Part of this stewardship includes setting and communicating a strategic direction for your organization, and other parts have to do understanding how your organization interacts with its environment. All of it includes thinking about how your organization is designed with respect to the work it does.

To assess your Organizational Resilience score, we ask the following sorts of questions:

  • has your organization adapted as external conditions have changed?

  • do you have a strategic planning process in place?

  • are all staff familiar with the current plan?

  • where is your organization on the organizational maturity scale?

  • what organizational design choices have been made, and what consequences do these choices imply?

  • do you have succession plans in place?

  • what, if any, organizational tensions seem to be at play?

  • are people burned out?

  • if you needed to quickly change your organizational identity, how might you go about that process?

When we talk about Organizational Resilience with people, we find that most organizations understand strategic planning, setting goals, and putting succession plans in place. But they miss the opportunity to step back and look at their organization as a system of interconnected parts, trying to understand where things are working, where they aren’t, and wondering about how to make tweaks in the organizational design that can shift things slightly one way or another.

For example, one client grappled with staff burnout. Although there were no explicit requirements that staff work long days, be on call 24/7, work on the weekends, and even check in over holidays, people felt they had to be present all the time. Our client tackled the issue from the perspective of Organizational Resilience. They asked themselves if there was something about the way they were organized that led people to be driven to work too much, and what they might do to build in some simple and effective pressure relief valves. Another client looking through the lens of Organizational Resilience noticed that, while there was an audacious strategic plan in place, many if not most staff didn’t know about it. Their question was then one about not just communicating the plan to staff, but wondering if they could engage the staff in the creation of the plan in the future, so they felt an integral part of it.

Of course, a resilient and healthy organization needs more than Organizational Resilience to succeed, but without Organizational Resilience it won’t last long. We can help you understand your Organizational Resilience score and develop strategies to deepen it. To learn about the other metrics we think are required, see Humanity and Tactics.


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