By Jas Mahrra, on 25 June 2013
Dan Fox, ISRS Associate Fellow reports on the latest developments for a Resilience Standard
Can We Standardise Resilience?
At first glance, the title of this post might strike many as one of John Rentoul’s famous Questions To Which The Answer Is No (#QTWTAIN). Resilience, after all, is about flexibility and agility in the face of change. Any sort of ‘standardization’ would surely contradict such a process. But a surprisingly nuanced debate that has taken place within the International Organization for Standardisation over the last two years has established a way forward for guiding organisations in their quest for resilience.
In fact, reflecting resilient attitudes amongst the national Principal Experts responsible, the original effort at a standard, ISO 22323, was abandoned at the end of 2012 and a new project started under ISO 22316.
‘Societal Security – Organisational Resilience – Principles and Guidelines’ has been a hotly contested and much misunderstood topic over which much debate has been expended. The problem has lain in trying to reconcile more traditional business continuity operations with a contemporary understanding of resilience. That is, a recognition that organisations must not prepare to simply survive and continue in the face of crises, but learn from them and use them to improve and evolve.
As the team responsible moves towards a Working Draft of 22316 over the coming months, the focus should be on those elements of an organisation’s capabilities that help it to transform in this way. These can include, but are not limited to:
• Refining established, relevant skills within the organisation
• ‘Unlearning’ current skills or habits that are no longer relevant and may be counter-productive
• Developing new skills
• Ongoing interaction of an organisation’s competencies with new technologies
• Learning together within the organisation, across teams, disciplines, departments.
• Gathering and assessing relevant data
In our complex, networked 21st century world, adaptive capacity will define an organisation’s success as much as its financial, human and cultural capital. ISO 22316 is set to be a good starting point for those seeking to grasp this opportunity.
Dan Fox was founding co-ordinator of ISRS, is a current Associate Fellow of the Institute, and serves as the UK Principal Expert on organizational resilience to ISO.