BOOK: The Organizational Resilience Handbook, by Graham Bell

The Organizational Resilience Handbook: A Practical Guide to Achieving Greater Resilience
Graham Bell, Kogan Page, 2020

I read a fair few books on the topic of resilience. Some are more pacey than others. This was one of those. I read the opening pages of The Organizational Resilience Handbook from behind my mask on a TFL train and was quite struck by the poignance of the author’s note in the opening pages, focused, as it was, on resilience thinking during a pandemic. He wrote about the speed with which the COVID crisis developed for businesses, forcing new models and ways of working, as employers and employees in different sectors grappled with the impact of shock government measures. He noted that the often overused word ‘unprecedented’ now had a new precedent, as the magnitude and long-term significance of the crisis began to emerge.

“This is no short-term event or one with only localised impact,” he wrote. “The societal context within which every organisation operates has been changed forever by the 2020 pandemic, but what is particularly useful for students of organisational resilience is how the scale and velocity of this crisis can help us better appreciate the strategic nature of the subject and also to recognise how we can best contribute to the demands of post-crisis learning.” And as organisations rush to re-establish themselves post-crisis, this guide can deliver the tools and models to help them plan for and deliver improvements in resilience capacity.

The Organizational Resilience Handbook was published in August, when the country-wide lockdown was still in place, and the author’s note written just before publication. The bulk of the book’s 304 pages are not focused on pandemic planning, but the concepts of resilience are of course the same. With countless case studies (Mercedes Formula One, the National Health Service, Alibaba, BP, Boeing) models and approaches, this practical guide shows that success is as much to do with innovation and the speed with which new products are brought to market as it is with having the ability to deal with unexpected crises. Such topics as security, safety, e-commerce, emerging technologies, organisational learning, compliance, business transformation and customer experience are all covered.

As a consultant and trainer specialising in organisational resilience and the assessment and mitigation of business risks, Graham Bell tackles each topic in a practical rather than abstract way. When he is not writing, Bell delivers a qualification course on organisational resilience regulated by Ofqual, is a Fellow of the Institute for Strategy, Resilience & Security at University College London, and of the Institute of Strategic Risk Management. He is also a member of the BSI Committee tasked with the revision of BS 65000 on Organisational Resilience. His three decades of experience in international roles across the manufacturing, telecoms, transport and energy sectors give this book powerful context and relevance.

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