As Mike Tyson, the former world heavyweight champion once said, "everyone has a plan - until they’re punched in the face".

And what’s true in the boxing ring, is also true in organizations; whether it’s a global financial crisis, geo-political tension, trade wars, climate change, cybercrime, technology, or aggressive new competitors – events impact strategies, the next big disruption is never far away, and the only certainty is change. And nowadays, it is happening faster than ever, exposing the weakness of slow-moving operations. In practical terms, if your market is changing every quarter, how can any business case justify a change initiative or decision that doesn’t deliver results in six, nine or 12 months or longer? By the time you’re ready to implement, the world has already moved on.  

So while the pandemic was (maybe) a once-in-a-lifetime event, in reality it was simply the most recent shock in an ongoing cycle - albeit bigger, and more sudden than most. And when it struck, the chaos that it created was instant. Markets disappeared. Business models broke. The world turn upside down. But amongst it all, people adapted. In fact, the "new reality" was up and running within weeks. 

There’s no doubt that certain industries have been more seriously affected by the pandemic than others. But even within specific sectors, there have been clear winners and losers. So why have certain organizations emerged stronger than others? The answer lies in the concept of resilience.

As a single global firm, with ongoing projects in 49 countries and nine industry sectors, BearingPoint can bring a unique perspective, and a very clear understanding about the key factors that equip organizations to successfuly deal with change. Based on our practical experience from literally thousands of client engagements we have defined five fundamental characteristics of resilience. How your organization performs across all five of these characteristics is an accurate measure of your potential to deal with the unexpected, embrace change, and ultimately enjoy sustainable success.  

The five characteristics of resilient organizations are:

Empowered people

Where the organization is truly focused on empowering its people, for example through new ways of working, competency development, outcomes-focused approaches and improving the overall employee experience.

Understand the complete customer

More than just paying lip-service to customer-centricty, the organisation demonstrates a deep understanding of all customer dynamics, combined with the organizational agility to flex and re-align its value chain to their needs.  

Organise data as a competitive advantage

Differentiating themselves by leveraging internal and external data, to understand how, when, and where change is happening – and using insights to drive real time discussion and action.   

Tech-driven agile business models

Making smart choices about technology, and fully leveraging the investment to enable agile and effective organizations through automation, operational effectiveness and digitalisation

Governance designed for fast decisions

Structures, hierarchies and processes that promote and empower quicker decisions on investment, resource allocation, and change, to enable organizations to fully capitalize on opportunities.

Of course, recognizing the issue and understanding these key components of resilience is only half the battle. The real challenge is turning recognition into meaningful action: How can you become a resilient organization?   

The short answer is, applied expertise. The importance of topics such as people, customer, data, technology, and governance is nothing new to most organizations – these are top priorities for most C-suites. However, the difference lies in the ability of organizations to actually make things happen in each of these priority areas together, using a unified, integrated and coherent approach strategy centred around improving overall organizational resilience. This requires a broad range of very specific expertise, which is not always present.

At BearingPoint, our philosophy is based on "doing" and "delivering" rather than "talking" or "advising". Drawing on our direct experience of working closely with hundreds of organizations across many different vertical markets before and during the pandemic, we have been able to develop methodologies that enable clients not only to identify their "resilience needs" but also to define and implement the necessary change across each of the key "resilience characteristics".

For example, one of our clients - a world-renowned luxury goods brand - has continued to thrive even during the height of the pandemic. The key to its success has been two-fold:

  • firstly, the concept of "change-readiness" (or what we’re calling resilience), is now deeply embedded throughout the organization;
  • and secondly, it has been highly focused on "living out" their strategies in each key area of the business: making decisions at speed, by using data to understand market movements; empowering local teams to create new types of relationship with its customers, despite lockdowns and travel bans; driving sales growth with innovative digital storytelling, combining ecommerce with virtual sales and customer management; developing new skills and recruiting new talent to continue building an empowered and highly motivated team.  

Similarly, another BearingPoint client - a large regional wholesaler – was able to reap the rewards of its agile model, in taking full advantage of changing customer demand during the pandemic lockdown. In particular, the crisis magnified the importance of strong and accurate financial targeting. By shortening the budget cycle by around six weeks, the finance department increased efficiency and enabled faster decision-making, more effective allocation of resources, and a greater emphasis on achieving ROI within narrower time frames.   

The specific challenges are always different – for every industry, and each client. And nobody yet knows what the next global crisis will look like. But we do know that it will come. And we also know that the organizations that continue to thrive will be those that truly recognize the importance of organizational resilience – and take action to make it happen.        

Would you like more information?

If you want to get more information about this insight please get in touch with our experts who would be pleased to hear from you.