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In the first article in a three-part series looking at ‘people and resilience’, Paul Kudray explores the professional resilience perspective: what do we think we should be doing?

Is there a danger that resilience professionals might not know exactly what the ‘people’ need?

The resilience world is awash with information telling us what it all does and doesn’t mean.  Each and every day, something’s posted with a ‘new’ perspective on what organizations should - and could - be doing. They happily tell us what is not being done and what the risks are.

One thing it indicates; our profession is experiencing an unprecedented ‘boom’ time. Like the proverbial Phoenix, we are rising from the ashes (or, as in personal experience), from the office under the stairs where ‘emergency planning’ – as some of us were once known - used to reside!

Pushing the resilience boundaries

Resilience is pushed everywhere (and rightly so) in a strong desire to educate the global economy, industry, commerce and communities; advising them what a quality value resilience is.

Before you put indignant finger to keyboard because I’ve said resilience is the new ‘emergency planning’, please read on for a few moments more…

I know resilience, business continuity management and organizational resilience are not just emergency planning. But, in the ‘old days’ (and I’m not even referring to when I had hair; it’s closer than that) resilience really did mean something else to the powers that be and ‘emergency planning’ – certainly within the first responders - was the be all and end all; the icing if you will, on the continuity/resilience cake.

(One of) my former line managers insisted in calling it emergency planning long after we changed the concepts of resilience. Some managers don’t want to adopt change; preferring the old ways, keeping things as they were.

Compare the (resilience) market dot com

You and I both know what we do is valuable. We possess a wealth of knowledge, experience and guidance that proves priceless in times of challenge and trouble. I’ve met some very talented, exciting new leaders on and offline who are part of the renaissance resilience movement; providing new ways of tackling old problems. Not afraid to challenge long standing issues.

No matter who you are, there’s a wealth of resilience advice to choose from. Some of us are avid consumers. Others may just be window shopping; maybe because they don’t quite know what they want, or because there’s just too much to take in. It would be funny if there was a ‘real’ resilience shop. Possibly next door to Selfridges or Lloyds of London:

Customer: ‘Have you got any emergency planning?’

Store assistant: ‘You’ll find that in the emergency management department. You need another floor. This is the BCM department. Take the elevator to the fourth floor. Go past the general resilience section and you’ll find the emergency planner; they should be able to help you.’

The answer’s in the slippers

Is there a danger that the resilient professionals might not know exactly what ‘people’ need and have an appetite for? We know what we think they want; but just as I thought Mrs K wanted a (cosy) pair of M&S slippers for Christmas, we could be wrong?

It’s the (decision making) people within the business who decide what to buy, not the organisation as a whole. How do we really know what each employee or staff member wants and needs individually?

Summer is coming; it’s time to remove some layers

To ensure we cater for everyone, we may need to provide a wider range of products and services and start to adopt a consumer mindset to really hit the spot. In order to get full and total buy in from everyone (not just the purse holders) we need to strip resilience down from its often heavy, dark winter clothing and offer a version as it could look which lay people can resonate with. So people from the board to the post room can connect with it.

Are you all in? Or out?

Simply put; we need to ensure we talk in a language that suits the people, not just the big people within the organization. Likening resilience buy-in (as opposed to buying) to a personal shopping expedition, it’s only when we understand something that we can know we want and need it and become less afraid of committing to the exchange and partnership.

Not to do, means the disengaged – potentially the larger percentage of any workforce – who don’t care whether their organization survives; particularly if it means the demise of a boss they don’t like, or a corporation they feel has mistreated them, will not be ‘all in’ when the proverbial hits the fan and your organization might end up ‘all out’ as a result.

The author

Paul KudrayAn international leader in business resilience consultancy, training and coaching; Paul Kudray, MSc FICPEM CBCI AMBCI, is an ex-emergency services commander who finished an exemplary 32 year career in the UK healthcare sector, working for the NHS - culminating in 7½ years as the Director of Resilience for one of the world’s largest ambulance services, NWAS NHS Trust. He now works with private and public sector clients around the world, training, advising, coaching and mentoring them at the highest levels about emergency and business continuity management. Paul's company is KCLContact Paul at or via LinkedIn 

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