Tag Archives: transition

7 features of resilient organisations

Rop Hopkins writes in his book “The power of just doing stuff” about how the transition to more sustainable lives can come from, well, just doing stuff. Not waiting to be asked, not asking for permission. In tune with the idea of “do first, apologise later, if needed” which is often touted as the way to get things done in overly bureaucratic situations.
the-power-of-just-doing-stuffA section in chapter one about resilient communities resonated strongly with me and echoes much of what I have read over the past few years regarding organisational learning and what makes organisations better places to work. Indeed better places to be. Here’s Rob’s list together with my comments about what learning “trend” each heading could be linked to.

  1. Diversity – cultural, gender, age and any other diversity leads to the status quo being challenged, a more creative workplace and new ideas being introduced.

    “…diversity is associated with increased sales revenue, more customers, greater market share, and greater relative profits.” 1

  2. Modularity – with this Rob means to not let one failure bring down an entire operation. I find this similar to Dave Snowden’s Safe Fail idea which suggests that more can be gained by letting wild ideas prosper while having a clear method for pulling the plug if it turns out not to work. Without blaming or punishing anyone. Read more about this at: http://cognitive-edge.com/blog/entry/5492/7-principles-of-intervention-in-complex-systems/
  3. Social capital – “social networks and vibrant communities that show trust, leadership and the ability to respond to challenges together are essential for resilience” says Rob (bold highlights are mine). Social networks and vibrant communities is the mantra of Jane Hart who has championed social learning within organisations for many years. Trust is essential for any network to really come to life – you don’t share what you know if you don’t trust the other members of the network. Leadership as opposed to management is a clear trend and one that is increasingly in demand by increasingly stressed workers.
  4. Innovation – can anybody say that innovation is not required for organisations today? The trend here is innovation leadership – that innovation efforts can be led in a particular direction with a greater guarantee of success at the end.

    “…you have to be able to innovate. It’s a core skill these days” 2

  5. Overlap – related to modularity above, overlap refers to the need to move away from silos. The safegrounds of middle management, they serve to steer information flows and to disempower the people doing the work. The silos don’t necessarily need to be dismantled, opening them up to new ideas and letting information flow will be a great start to bringing life back to pats of the organisation.

    “…in order for a company to work efficiently, decisions need to be made across silos.” 3

  6. Tight feedback loops – in order for iterative improvements to be made and performance and engagement to be more ikely, feedback must be given on the work done. At frequent intervals. This is known as Agile HR or more simply, coaching leadership. Recent studies have (apparently) shown that Swedish managers in particular are not good at giving feedback and following up on work done.
  7. Ecosystem services – an organisation must think about the effects of it’s operations on the surrounding ecosystems. What effects do we have on our supplier’s environment? And our customer’s? On our own? This is of course Corporate Social Responsibility or CSR.

So in a world where change is becoming the norm, resilience would seem to be synonymous with success.

What changes can you see on the horizon? What possibilities do they bring?


1: “Does Diversity Pay?: Race, Gender, and the Business Case for Diversity” p219, C. Herring, University of Illinois at Chicago. Found at: http://www.uww.edu/diversity/resources/does%20diversity%20pay.pdf

2: http://timkastelle.org/blog/2013/05/heres-why-you-need-to-build-your-innovation-capability/

3: http://www.fastcompany.com/1839317/build-your-business-smash-your-silos