By Dr. Myles Sweeney & Declan Kavanagh
In Psychology, Personal Resilience is a concept that has suffered from being subsumed in other concepts, but Organizational Resilience is still seen as important by both Leaders and academics alike, in terms of planning and making preparations for market, system & ecosystem shocks; however, academics are in agreement that Resilience is seen to best effect when it is evident in organizations in terms of built-in levels of Capabilities, Redundancy in Resources, Connectedness beyond immediate market, etc. It is in large part, subsumed in the concept of Integrativity that is central to Dynamic Systems Maturity Theory (DSMT) which encompasses all of the features associated with both Resilience and Agility – a combination that is touted by everyone, but is only offered in a singular normative framework and process by DSMT as operationalised through OrgCMF™.
Of the many definitions touted for Resilience, DSMT is most congruent with those that are holistic, and accommodate its higher-Level response patterns, as in the following first example from a Psychologist for Personal Resilience and then a second one for Organizational Resilience:
“Resilience is the integrated adaptation of physical, mental and spiritual aspects in a set of good or bad circumstances, a coherent sense of self that is able to maintain normative developmental tasks that occur at various stages of life” (Richardson, 2002).
“Resilience is the ability of an organization to anticipate, prepare for, respond and adapt to incremental change and sudden disruptions in order to survive and prosper” (Denyer, 2017, p.5).
A 2021 Global Study by ODTI with the University or Groningen (Masters) found that that Organisation/Business Resilience in times of Disruption is both Predictable & Actionable.
Denyer’s paper offers a summation of research on the subject and suggests that this points to Adaptation and Innovation as the best strategies to produce Resilience in times of market disturbance.
While Adaptation & Innovation reflect OrgCMF™ Capability Maturity Levels 5 & 6 resp., he also uses language that really is Regenerative (Maturity Level 7) when he talks about “creating, inventing and discovering new markets”, and again, DSMT can be seen to bring greater definition in the area and refers to the ability of organizations to re-invent themselves to address market shifts.
It is no exaggeration to say that everything that Denyer highlights, throughout his 42-page paper, as important towards building Resilience into an organization, is represented in the Phases of Capability development through OrgCMF™. As you might expect – high Maturity organizations are high Resilient organizations; but critically, what DSMT does is to align everything within a normative systemic learning process to build in an intrinsic & sustainable manner, the critical combination of Resilience and Agility.
It is important to note that – as outlined in other papers in great detail – the features of the most Agile organizations as detailed by Hamel and Zanini (2017), map into the DSMT systemic process as well. Also, of course, not only does DSMT organize critical features into a maturation process, it also adds Regenerative methodology to thwart the quite natural and ever-present tendencies towards degradation of both of these features, through the newly-defined process of Inversion that plagues a high percentage of organizations. This is expressed in Resilience patterns, because although this is not dealt with in research papers, in reality, organizations build or learn Resilience into their system in many ways that are both good and bad, and they map diagnostically onto the Maturity hierarchy, as captured in the following Table with some explanation below.
1a Organizations and Capabilities simply get aggressive and demanding;
1b Organizations will fold quite tamely with Leaders playing the “its just not worth it anymore”;
1c Organisations will seek shelter in some relationship with a benefactor and this might lead to dependency.
1a, 1b & 1c are the expressions of the 3 Habituation patterns of the Inversion Zone, and DSMT would suggest that these Responses to Troublesomeness (a comparable concept of 'Emotional Stability' and also in the Personal Dynamic of the OMI) are predictable from diagnosing prevailing functionality in the system through the model.
As with all of the Habituated Zones of Maturity, the developmental expression of the above Habituations should be built into the system, so that e.g., circumstances may arise when Aggression or the application of Pressure is the right course of action; some unit(s) of the system will have to be sacrificed; Subsidization such as Pandemic Payment or borrowings, etc., will be required; etc., and it is important to have contingency planning and capacity in place for all of the different Levels of response.
2a Organizations will be decisive because a Singularity such as the Leader is the source of action and, the effectiveness of the response is dependent on the quality of the Leader, but there is an inherent rigidity in this pattern which is likely to be detrimental to the organization at some point.
2b Organizations will apply great energy from a number of perspectives throwing everything at it and hoping something works but this approach will not succeed all the time.
3a Organizations will seek a collective harmonious response which is typically slower than ideal.
3b Organizations will have an emotional response pattern that will lead to confusion.
4a Organizations will see trouble as a Learning opportunity and/or have a good deal of training and development done that will help the people and systems to cope.
4b Organizations will have embedded standard Process and Procedure to keep the activities going through the turbulence.
5a Organisations have a capacity for a dynamic response pattern by everyone.
5b Organisations have a dynamic response pattern systemically from people and process and procedure to keep the system adapting to change and maintaining Stakeholder Satisfaction.
6a Organisations have Innovative response pattern through which Individuals and teams act
6b Units of the Organisation system are Autonomous and turn adversity into advantage.
7a Integrative Leadership is reflected in Intrinsic Trust, so that the market looks to the organization to set an example of response to Trouble.
7b Regenerative Leadership means that the system can re-invent itself either in part or in whole in times of crisis, as well as buy its way out of trouble through e.g., M&As.
Any Organisation can identify its current Resilience to Disruption by Assessing its Capability Maturity, and can build Agility and Resilience by building its key capabilities and their respective Maturities through the Development Phases to The Higher Levels of Maturity (5-Competitive, 6-Advantage & 7- Leadership).
Organisations who when self-Assessed measure their Capability Maturity at above Level 4 on a 7 Level Normative Maturity Scale, demonstrate a level of Agility and Resilience that allows them to survive todays and anticipated VUCA (Disruption). The higher the Maturity Level, the greater the Resilience & Agility and the stronger the confidence to weather any period of future VUCA.
Organisations who when self-Assessed measure their Capability Maturity at below Level 4 indicated that their capability Maturity Level and Performance degraded during the recent VUCA period and their confidence to deal with future VUCA was low indicating low resilience and limited Agility
51% of Organisations are trapped at Maturity Level 3 or below, thus explaining a significant contributor to the Historic High Change Failure rates (70%+ Burnes 2016). Though this Survey finds the number is less at 35%
27% of organisations reach Maturity Level 4-Operational (Often referred to as Bureaucratic) and fail to progress to higher levels.
Only 22% of Organisations achieve Level 5 and above and attain system level Agility implied by Hamel (2015??)
Larger Organisations are more likely to rate Human Dynamics at the bottom 3 maturity levels with a mean of Maturity Level 2 for approximately 55% of this population (30% of total participant population). Though not surprising that Emotion, Cognition, Personal and Interpersonal Dynamics are lower for large organisations the mean of Maturity Level 2 (Critical) suggests some significant risk factors exist for these organisations.
Larger Organisation should as a minimum complete Triage Level Assessment on the 4 Human Dynamics often associated with ‘Cultural’ deficiencies, but not exclusively.
For those organisations that are aware of potential shortfalls in the Human Dynamics then Diagnostic Level Assessment on some or all 21 related Micro Capabilities (Constructs)
Self-awareness amongst the top levels of management that they likely see the Organisation in a more positive light than the lower levels and that Resilience and Agility may not be as they might have expected.
Intrinsic Organisation resilience building is a process of Organisation Learning & Development. As opposed to ‘Cut & Pasting’ ‘Best Practice’ which has inherent risk of failure, we now build the Organisation Systems internally through the phases of Development defined in Dynamic Systems Maturity Theory as applied in the Organisation Capability Maturity Framework’s 7-level normative Maturity Model. This will assure sustainable traction in the actions taken to build Organisation Resilience.
What we now know from both research and practice is that there is a direct relationship between the Maturity Level of an Organisation, Team, Function or Capability and its level of Resilience to disruption. We also know that if an Organisation, Team, Function or Capability measures at Maturity Level 3 or below, it has limited or no resilience so the Target Maturity Level must be a minimum of Level 4 (Operational) or above otherwise performance will degrade quite quickly in times of Disruption and Dynamic Change.
We also know that at Maturity Level 5 (Competitive) there is a level intrinsic Resilience withing the System (Organisation, Team, Function or Capability) and the higher the maturity the greater the level of Organisation Agility, Innovation and potential to exploit any Disruption or Dynamic environment.
Discuss and Define the Organisation System, Sub-system or element for consideration as it relates to building intrinsic Resilience. This may include exploring potential VUCA in the Organisations environment and assigning probabilities to assist with Prioritization. (Output is a ‘Problem or Opportunity Statement’)
Define & Configure the relevant Capabilities whose Maturities should be Assessed to understand the existing levels of resilience, strengths and constraints.
Run the Capability Maturity Assessment.
Analyse the Assessment Report Results and identify those priority Capabilities that require development towards your agreed target maturity levels.
Create a Resilience Building action plan and execute that plan calibrate the actions as guided by the Maturity Assessment Report to sequentially build Resilience through the intrinsic learning process of the system.
Periodically re-assess maturity to assure target Resilience goals are being achieved.
Denyer, D. (2017). Organizational Resilience: A summary of academic evidence, business insights and new thinking. BSI and Cranfield School of Management. Organizational Resilience: A summary of academic evidence, business insights and new thinking
Richardson, G. (2002). The Metatheory of Resilience and Resiliency. Journal of Clinical Psychology, 58, (3), 307-321.