Rethinking Organizational Resilience

An organizational framing of resilience is primarily connected to internal purpose and vision. Thus, meanings of resilience can are grounded in differing ethical or moral frameworks – economic metrics, social impacts, or public goods. And in fact, these meanings of resilience can be mutually exclusive.

We are living in turbulent times. At a micro-level consensus of purpose and vision is difficult to achieve within organizations. And at a macro level, even more so in an increasingly divided and uncertain world.

Nevertheless, we also face common challenges across organizations that are increasingly universal -- economic disparities, climate change, and now a Post-Covid 19 era.

If we want to address these shared challenges, we must reconsider resilience as a shared concept. What, in fact, are the essential characterizes of a resilient organization? How do we facilitate valid and reliable communication to inform a shared vision? What external and internal threats require organizations to become more resilient? Can organizations balance a need for stability, often steeped in tradition, with a need to be resilient and quick to adapt to rapid change? What are some strategies for leaders of organizations aspiring to be more resilient?

These and many other questions require our attention as we aspire for a sustainable future. Perhaps the most challenging question is: to what extent do social systems have emergent properties that confound our efforts to understand and lead organizations?