Organizational Resilience: It’s a Journey, Not a Destination

In 2017, David Denyer, a professor at Cranfield University, defined organizational resilience as the ability of an organization to anticipate, prepare for, respond and adapt to incremental change and sudden disruptions in order to survive and prosper.1

Five years later, this definition is more relevant than ever. But the key is to define what it means to you and your organization.

As the risk landscape has become more dynamic, organizations are increasingly facing simultaneous or a succession of critical events. In fact, in a recent commissioned study conducted by Forrester Consulting on behalf of OnSolve2, nearly three-quarters of respondents experienced at least two types of incidents over the past 18 months. For example, let’s say a hurricane on the East Coast changes direction and causes unexpected flooding that impacts your branch offices in the Midwest. You prepared for the hurricane and had a plan in place; but were you able to pivot to address the unexpected impact to your business several states away?

Effective organizational resilience relies on careful planning, clearly defined rules for mitigation and response, and the ability to improvise in the moment 3.

Obviously, every organization wants to be agile enough to mitigate the risks to their people and property. But often, there’s confusion about where to start and what the next step (or ten steps) should look like.

If we take a step back, understanding organizational resilience first requires understanding that it is also inherently dynamic; it can and will mean different things to different people within your organization. Every leader—whether focused on business continuity, communications, physical security, IT, etc.— will see organizational resilience through a unique lens that’s formed by their role, priorities, and comprehension of the current and future risk landscape. So, it’s essential that any organizational resilience conversation be a collaborative one. That’s because it’s a continuing journey and something an organization must commit to working at (and refining and improving) over the long term.

Too often, the impulse is simply to add another piece of software. But that’s short-sighted. What’s really needed to strengthen organizational resilience is embracing a holistic approach that combines a modern, integrated technology platform with a shift in mindset organization-wide. Every department must have an understanding of how their people and their work support overall corporate objectives, and, just as importantly, be aligned with the top-level goals of agility, flexibility and, ultimately, resilience.

Modern Critical Event Management for Enterprise-Wide Agility

One of the questions asked most often by organizational leadership and their teams is: What can set us on the right path to being more resilient?

This is where critical event management enters the conversation. That’s because, when done well, critical event management promotes stronger organizational resilience by design.

But what does critical event management look like when it’s done well?

Successful critical event management requires a combination of proactive tactics and reactive capabilities that align all departments and mitigate negative impacts from events before, during and after they have occurred. The key components of effective critical event management enable and encourage continuous improvement through the following capabilities:

  • Proactive risk awareness — Know about threats sooner
  • Cross-functional coordination and communication flows — Keep all stakeholders on the same page
  • Integrated technology and systems — Remove silos that thwart real progress
  • Post-event analysis — Learn from what went right AND what went wrong

Each are essential for helping an organization realize the best possible outcomes during not only a crisis, but also during the inevitable hiccups of daily operations.

More Time to React—More Confidence in Your Response

The OnSolve® Platform for Critical Event Management is a modern, integrated platform that optimizes and centralizes all of the above capabilities, leveraging powerful AI and data science that drives seamless communication and incident management. The technology delivers the most important information quickly, with the irrelevant data automatically filtered out. Cross-functional teams have a better understanding of the critical event during the entire lifecycle. A better understanding of the crisis drives better management and monitoring which, in turn, means that communications and response teams are better able to inform and protect people, places and property.

The OnSolve Platform also provides easy access to crisis response and business continuity plans on any device with a user-friendly interface. Informed decisions guide effective action—leading to faster response times, shorter recovery times and consistent actions, all of which combine to strengthen the stability and resiliency of the organization as a whole.

Remember, organizational resilience doesn’t happen overnight. It takes work and practice to become good at responding to crises, requiring a deep understanding of your priorities and vulnerabilities. But by taking the right approach, your business can learn lessons from every situation and empower stronger responses for the future.

Charting Your Path to Organizational Resilience

An organization simply cannot over-prepare. You should be having the organizational resilience conversation because it's a posture—a way to make better decisions that drive better outcomes. It starts with adopting an organization-wide mindset that emphasizes being agile, curious and adaptive in thinking about and approaching risk. Don’t be afraid of asking questions and analyzing your organization’s strengths and weaknesses. An organizations’ people, processes and technology often mature at different rates, and it's important to understand where your organization’s leaders believe themselves to be on the technology maturity scale. After all, to determine the best path to your desired destination, you must know your starting point.

1   Denyer, D. (2017). Organizational Resilience: A summary of academic evidence, business insights and new thinking. BSI and Cranfield School of Management.

2  “Failing To Plan Is Planning To Fail,” Forrester Consulting, October 2021

3  “Building Organizational Resilience”, Suarez and Montes, Harvard Business Review, 2020.

Where is your organization on the path to organizational resilience? Take this short self-assessment to find out.


OnSolve® proactively mitigates physical threats, allowing organizations to remain agile when a crisis strikes. Using trusted expertise and reliable AI-powered risk intelligence, critical communications and incident management technology, the OnSolve Platform allows organizations to detect, anticipate and mitigate physical threats that impact their people and operations.