Resiliency is a word being thrown around a lot in this particular crisis for personal and organisational development. There are many interpretations but let’s focus on the real fundamentals: how does nature makes organisms resilient? As many of you know we follow the science and we have looked to evolution and underlying natural patterns to explain many things*. Nature has to build resiliency – or rather only the resilient survive. So how does nature make organism resilient and what can we take away for business and personally:
- Redundancies: this is also something structural engineers know well. You need to have redundancies – you can’t rely on one thing only. You need to be able to do things without some part of yourself or your diet. We can rely on multiple sources of food; we can lose a finger and still survive – we can even lose an arm (albeit makes life difficult). But we can’t lose a heart or a brain – they are our weak spots and why they are strongly protected.
For businesses, are there other ways to earn income? What can you survive without?
If you’re reliant on one thing you have a clump risk – if that goes everything goes – can there be alternatives? What do you do well that can be transferred to other areas?
- Elasticity: we have elasticity in many ways. We can be active for 2 hours a day or 22, or longer if really necessary. We can survive without food for long periods of time. We can run slowly but also faster. These are all examples of elasticity. What is interesting in business is that many businesses have aimed to reduce elasticity in recent decades – squeezing the highest productivity our of employees leaves less room for elasticity, minimising costs and resources, reduces elasticity, just-in-time storage reduces elasticity. All of these things sound good for profits (which are good) but make a company less elastic and more at risk for crisis situations.
For businesses where can you stretch, where can you allocate alternative resources.
For individuals where can you stretch – if you have more time due to lack of commuting can you contribute to something else.
- Stability: this sounds like the opposite to the above but isn’t. Stability helps plan and do things consistently over time. Certain things remain stable – our skeletons are stable and remain so, our basic architecture remains the same. Stability is a good thing; it creates security and ability to plan. Again, interestingly, is that many businesses have promoted change as the answer to all – we have often commented that change is good but looking to nature we know that stability and change operate together and are essential because if this is balanced organisms thrive. We have spoken to many businesses and the rate of change is sometimes shocking – businesses also need stability.
Where do you have stability and where can you create stability? This is important in times of crisis.
- Adaptability: and finally, we come to adaptability which everyone is touting as the answer to all. Obviously, adaptability is crucial to survival. Human beings have been shown to be incredibly adaptable, able to adapt to very different climatic conditions. Animal and plants that are adaptable are also very resilient, think rats, and many “weeds”. Adaptable can mean many things for businesses from the ability of leaders to respond, to change their ways, for organisations to change structures to focus on different priorities while keeping an essence of stability. The three above will enable adaptability. Though some companies may fill the gap provided by covid19 they will not survive and become resilient if they can’t do all four. The same applies to your company. The same applies to you.
Unfortunately, nature is always right so when we think of resiliency, I’d first like you to think of the four above. There are other natural factors at play, for example, lifecycle stages which will impact the four above and also the concepts of cyclical energy…. we’ll save those for other blogs on other days.
Mental resilience is one that has been focused on by many, and is an important aspect for many individuals, but is related to the above in many ways – if you have the above four you won’t need to focus on mental resilience – but mental resilience will enable you to tap into some of the above better and make better decisions….and then then there is the whole discussion around emotional sensitivity which we will also leave to another blog for another day…
For now, hoping you have resiliency in times of crisis!
*Laws of nature always hold true and can be used to predict many things that happen in the business world – covid19 was and is a totally predictable event despite what many people are saying (pandemic has been listed as a global risk for many years).