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Is your organisation adaptable, resilient, and disruption-ready?

Authored by Mary Angove, Claudia Gabriel and Maddy Sabine. 

Organisations that are best established to respond quickly to disruption are those that have learnt from the past. We have faced the Global Financial Crisis, the rise of artificial intelligence, robotic process automation, and now, following the impacts of COVID-19, organisations are looking to the next phase of recovery and growth. This constant disruption raises an important and frequently tackled question: How can organisations future-proof themselves against the impacts of disruption? The challenge is finding the right answer in the context of your organisation.

Each disruption teaches us how to better arm ourselves against unexpected change – how to be more adaptable and more resilient. It is important that your organisation responds quickly and effectively to disruption. In doing so, you open a door to opportunity, such as protection or accumulation of market share and your customer base. So, what can your organisation do now to minimise the impacts from future disruption?

Having real-time, accurate insights into where capability sits across your organisation can help strengthen your adaptability muscle. Strategic workforce planning is critical to this. It is important to consider different future scenarios, including those that may disrupt your organisation, and the subsequent workforce impacts. Scenario modelling must be underpinned by accurate and current data, as well as a strong understanding of your organisation’s strategic objectives.

Deloitte’s Workforce Foresight Technology allows organisations to forecast more accurately while helping them to model multiple granular scenarios, aligned to industry-specific nuances. It supports long-term planning for any variation of internal transformation, or external disruption, through knowing where transferable skills and business knowledge are housed, and how this can be shifted accordingly. A major passenger rail provider is using Deloitte Foresight to generate daily supply and demand forecasts for traincrew across a five-year horizon, actionably connecting plans to daily operational needs. Since using Deloitte Foresight, the rail provider has experienced zero service cancellations due to train crew shortages.

Adaptable organisations are best able to respond to disruption at pace, while generating value. This is because the people of adaptable organisations are skilled at unlearning, relearning, creating insights and responding – at speed – to achieve desired outcomes for their customers, colleagues, and organisation.

To be a resilient organisation, adaptability should underpin all aspects of its operating model - from governance models that enable nimble decision-making and less hierarchy, to a structure and roles that enable capability to shift where it is most needed (e.g., cross-skilling in critical roles to maintain essential services).

Organisations should consider their industrial environment and how this may enable or hinder their ability to drive adaptability and shift skills. Enabling adaptability through the strategic design of industrial instruments benefits the organisation and opens up a range of career opportunities for its people.

Additionally, organisations that have leaders with the skill and interest to lead and inspire through disruption, and who can foster a culture of learning and a growth mindset, are more likely to consistently drive desired business outcomes. Leaders should cultivate an environment where team members play a role in decision-making (e.g., through minimising hierarchy). Each person within your organisation should be encouraged to  participate in activities that define and drive the purpose of the organisation. In doing so, greater connection is built between your organisation and its people, and they become more resilient to the negative impacts (e.g., disengagement) of disruption.

Designing an adaptable, purpose-led organisation, together with building well-informed workforce models that are underpinned by an accurate view of capability, enables an organisation to be resilient in the face of disruption. Consider, 

  • Do you know what capability is needed, and where? Do you know how to pivot your capability to adapt to disruption?
  • Do the components of your operating model enable adaptability?
  • Are your leaders equipped to inspire their people to adapt in the face of disruption?