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How Resilient Are You? Ten Questions to Inform Your Business Continuity Planning and Resiliency Building

November 16, 2020
By Kathryn Llewellyn & Jonathan Wackrow

As the pandemic reaches new milestones in Europe and the US, and the aftermath of the US election exposes the depth of partisan divides, members of the business community increasingly find themselves charged with fostering continuity, calm and empathy during times of protracted unrest and volatility.

Looking ahead to 2021, this entropy will only increase. Surges in new COVID-19 cases, logistical challenges to widespread vaccine distribution, and growing polarization and distrust as governments around the world take divergent paths to ease the pandemic’s impacts mean that businesses will be forced to continue responding to and planning for problems we may not know exist today. Even once the pandemic and its immediate fallout are behind us, simultaneously defining and navigating the new social contract and ever-changing threat landscape will require unprecedented agility, adaptability and resiliency.

To counterbalance the abstractness and unpredictability of this future landscape, organizations should focus on managing risk based on vulnerabilities intrinsic to their operations, rather than as-of-yet-unknown triggering events. In other words, adopting an “inside-out” rather than “outside-in” perspective can help businesses take a more strategic and scalable approach to business continuity planning and resiliency building.

Before companies can begin to adopt the inside out approach, they first need to understand what resiliency means, and where potential gaps or vulnerabilities lie within their unique business operations.

Resiliency encompasses an organization’s ability to recover and rebound from severe and acute impacts to core facilities and infrastructure, personnel or technology systems, as well as chronic stresses that build over time—often outside the organization’s physical boundaries. In addition to being able to restore and rebuild infrastructure and maintain critical operations, an organization must also cultivate and maintain engagement with and cohesion among diverse employee, investor and consumer bases.

Drawing upon learnings from our client base and our practitioners’ experience, Teneo Risk will be publishing a series of pieces, focused on all aspects of “inside-out” resiliency building as the pandemic, global markets and political theaters play out. Our goal is to help you develop and enhance a culture of resiliency.

To begin, we offer a few “diagnostic” questions. Mindful of the inevitable changes in public health and political spheres in the days and months ahead, these questions focus instead on your internal operations and business footprint. These questions will help identify potential needs and vulnerabilities to serve as the foundation for “inside-out” business continuity and resiliency planning:

  1. What parts of your business operations would be most impacted by acute shocks and chronic stresses?
  2. Which types of acute shocks and or chronic stresses would be most likely to impact each of those business operations?
  3. What resources and processes does your organization have in place to proactively monitor potential acute shocks and chronic stresses?
  4. How reliant are your business operations and risk mitigation and recovery plans on external third parties?
  5. What resources and processes does your organization have in place to respond to potential acute shocks and/or chronic stresses?
  6. What resources and processes does your organization have in place to communicate with employees and other key internal and external stakeholders in the event of an acute shock or chronic stressor?
  7. What functionalities, people and assets do you view as mission-critical in the event an acute shock or chronic stressor disrupted operations?
  8. What governments, regulatory and legal entities preside over your business operations and supply chains?
  9. Who—within the organization or externally—is responsible for activating and carrying out the business continuity plan?
  10. How thoroughly are your plans documented and communicated to the individuals charged with carrying them out, as well as to employees and other external stakeholders?

There are no right or wrong answers to these questions; rather, the fact that you have answers at all means you may already be ahead of the game. These answers will inform your organization’s priorities and next steps for building and augmenting your business continuity plans and resilience.

The views and opinions in these articles are solely of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of Teneo. They are offered to stimulate thought and discussion and not as legal, financial, accounting, tax or other professional advice or counsel.

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