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The organizational resilience movement

Some research and insights have a short shelf life, while others continue to gain color and context. In each issue of Deloitte Insights Magazine, we look back on research we published and ideas we pitched, and evaluate whether they’ve stood the test of time.

What we said then

“Resilience is not a destination; it is a way of being. A ‘resilient organization’ is not one that is simply able to return to where it left off before the crisis. Rather, the truly resilient organization is one that has transformed, having built the attitudes, beliefs, agility, and structures into its DNA that enable it to not just recover to where it was, but catapult forward—quickly.”

The essence of resilient leadership: Business recovery from COVID-19, Deloitte Insights, April 2020.

What we say now

So, based on what we’ve learned from navigating through the onslaught of disruptions caused by COVID-19, geopolitical tensions, and concerns about an impending global recession, is resilience a way of being, or has it proved to be a means to an end—a way for organizations to weather the current storm?

There’s a parallel to be drawn in the quality movement: Today, quality is embedded in the fabric of every organization, virtually a nonnegotiable expectation from all stakeholders. It’s a way of being for 21st-century organizations.

Yet in the second half of the 20th century, quality was a competitive differentiator and something that needed to be worked at through explicit levers such as statistical quality control, total quality management, and the implementation of ISO 9000 standards. We needed an exercise regimen to build the quality muscle repeatedly, until it became a lifestyle.

Isn’t resilience following a similar path? In conversations with executives, in business media, and in this very publication, there’s ample evidence that leaders of organizations around the world are following an exercise regimen of resilience reps spanning strategy, supply chains, finance, systems, operations, and the workforce, with a goal of achieving resilience as a way of being—a means to its own end. It seems we’re in the midst of the resilience movement.

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Cover image by: Bruce Morser 

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