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Akhilesh Gulati

Quality Insider

Resilience in a Recovering Economy

10 tips for building a more resilient culture

Published: Thursday, October 15, 2009 - 13:48

Isn't it the economy that's on everyone's minds? When will the economy pick up? Will we be able to survive until then or will we too become another company that used to exist? How do we ensure a stronger position when the economy turns around?

Alas, if only we had a crystal ball. Nobody does, but many of us have common business sense and the fortitude to act on it. It's called resilience.

Let's explore how an organization can build a resilient culture:

1. Understand environment
2. Evaluate weak spots
3. Examine the organization's value system
4. Look at how your business is spending its time
5. Change your business attitude
6. Protect and enhance your business
7. Take control
8. Build relationships with those around you
9. Live above the line
10. Review your performance


I discuss these below, one by one.

Classic business sense says that we need to listen and understand the environment we operate in. It not only allows us to plan to respond to emerging customer needs, but to also create coping strategies.

Strategies require an evaluation of our weak spots (e.g., SWOT, or strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats analysis). By examining pressure points and the associated discomfort they cause, this can facilitate the changing of your processes to mitigate the pressure, the pinch, the bottlenecks, and the inefficiencies.

Is working under pressure and stress a part of your organizational value system? Are your values defined? Does everybody in the organization understand them? In most organizations, these are tacitly stated. With no "internal blueprint," decisions are focused locally and do not stimulate growth and strength. This might be an example of a weak spot.

Examining an organization's value system might lead to the discovery that its people are spending time on things they do not have control over. This then becomes a stimulus for doing things differently and taking a different approach. It is amazing how much organizations are able to achieve if only they take the opposite stance—if only to see things with a different perspective. Look at how your business is spending its time. Also check the pace at which your business operates. Is it always in the expediting mode? Is it always in the laissez faire mode? Operating at a healthy pace is important in protecting and enhancing your business.

This change in business attitude is an excellent technique in building resilience, especially critical in today's business climate. When you choose to make every situation a positive one, customers and employees notice it. Doom and gloom do not help build business. Skills and attitude does. Change your business attitude.

This translates to taking control, a fundamental skill of resilient people and organizations. You might not be able to control the environment, but you can choose how you respond to it and behave within it.

Whether the economy is good or bad, on an upswing or a downturn, it is always good to build relationships with those around you. Organizations do not operate in isolation; it is a collaborative effort. One cannot go it alone. Today's social media technology can allow us to take this collaborative effort to new heights.

It is interesting to note how people are not willing to be accountable for their own decisions and actions. Blaming is so easy. But resilient organizations create a culture where people understand that accountability and responsibility are some of the most important ingredients of a successful organization.

Feedback, metrics, performance review, and evaluations—all let us know the organization's mood and attitude. An organization that not only measures itself but also takes steps to act on the necessary changes, builds strength, resiliency and excitement. Learn to review your performance.

While organizations are in a somber mood in this uncertain economy, a strategy for building resiliency will not only ensure survival in the recovering economy, but also lead to thriving in a recovering economy. Attitudes are contagious, and a resilient attitude draws or builds resilient customers. Where do stand in this economy? Are you ready to lead in the recovering economy?

We would like to hear from you. What is your organization doing for resiliency in this recovering economy? Are attitudes changing? Are there lessons learned for your marketing department? Are there lessons learned for the quality department? How is your organization trying to build a resilient culture? Is your organization particularly good at any of the 10 areas noted above?

We would like to hear back from you. Write to us at gulati@pivotmc.com


About The Author

Akhilesh Gulati’s picture

Akhilesh Gulati

Akhilesh Gulati has 25 years of experience in operational excellence, process redesign, lean, Six Sigma, strategic planning, and TRIZ (structured innovation) training and consulting in a variety of industries. Gulati is the Principal consultant at PIVOT Management Consultants and the CEO of the analytics firm Pivot Adapt Inc. in S. California. Akhilesh holds an MS from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, and MBA from UCLA, is a Six Sigma Master Black Belt and a Balanced Scorecard Professional.