Organisational Resilience

The Dunkirk evacuation saw 300,000 allied personnel rescued over an eight-day period, thanks to the herculean efforts of both civilians and soldiers. It may seem an extreme comparison to the situation in which housing associations currently find themselves regarding COVID-19, but the underlying theme of resilience very much applies.

Organisational Resilience is an organisation’s ability to adapt to change, ensuring both the long-term viability of the business and the safety of staff, customers, and stakeholders. It’s a way of thinking that can be measured, developed, and instilled in the culture of the organisation.

In Breakfast Briefing #8, headed by our resilience lead, David Lister, we discussed how you can improve your organisational resilience and pull off your own Dunkirk.

Action plan – Part 1

When implementing a successful operational resilience plan, the goal is to continue operations as close to normal as possible. This means ensuring staff can work from home so they can fulfil their usual remit, and allowing staff who must visit properties for reasons such as emergency repairs to do so safely and securely (i.e. with PPE).

Bear in mind that this initial stage of resilience is necessary, but it is not sustainable. It requires an all-hands-on-deck mentality, with every area of the organisation doing its bit to get things up and running and minimise disruption. The IT department, for example, may find themselves with an enormous workload, as they battle to get everyone working remotely. Consider how long this goodwill will last and what the cost might be to individuals and the operation at large.

Action plan – Part 2

Once you’ve stabilised the business, you want to start thinking about the future and adapting to the new environment in which you find yourselves.

Start thinking about a strategy for returning to the workplace, and consider the environment in which your business will operate and how to adjust your operations accordingly. Consider your staff, service users, and stakeholders; and ensure any plans you make and the actions you take thereon are formed with these three fundamental groups in mind.

Remember, we’re in Phase 2 – Resilience – of McKinsey’s roadmap here, so there will be more pressing issues afoot, such as those outlined in Part 1 of the action plan. But it’s better to start thinking about these things sooner rather than later in order to accelerate decision-making and make the best possible judgments going forward.

Resilience v Value

Finally, you need to consider whether to prioritise resilience or value for money (VfM). You may have focussed on providing the best value for money before the crisis, but now that it’s hit, the scales have arguably tilted toward business continuity and longevity. The regulator will no doubt have its say, but among staff and customers at least, resilience likely wins out.

It may even be that VfM has no choice but to take a back seat. In a pandemic-hit world, procuring PPE is essential; yet, we have no control over this particular supply chain. Where will it come from? When will it arrive? What will it cost? These questions become all but obsolete in the face of absolute necessity.

Stress test

There are five fundamental areas you need to consider to ensure resilience in your organisation. These are:


As part of our Resilience Health-Check Assessment, we have developed a toolbox that can be used to assess resilience maturity for each of the five areas:

1. Business continuity

  • Business impact analysis
  • Risk assessment
  • Testing & awareness

2. IT disaster recovery

  • IT DR policy
  • Back-up plans and recovery
  • Testing programme

3. Risk management – enterprise and operational

  • Standard risk registers
  • Escalation of key risks
  • Mitigation & contingency plans

4. Corporate governance and regulatory compliance

  • Compliance policy & reporting
  • Business impact analysis
  • Risk appetite understanding

5. Supply chain resilience

  • Contracts, inc. business continuity plans
  • Contingency plans
  • Partnerships

Contact us

If you would like a copy of our more detailed briefing pack, or to know more about our Health-Check Assessment service, contact

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