What is organisational resilience?

Organisational resilience is the ability to survive a crisis, and thrive in a world of uncertainty.


Resilience is a strategic capability. It is more than just about getting through crises.
A truly resilient organisation has two other important capabilities - the foresight and situation awareness to prevent potential crises emerging, and an ability to turn crises into a source of strategic opportunity.

Tools & resources for measuring organisational resilience

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    OrgRes Tool

    A quick online assessment tool to give you a snapshot of your organisation's resilience. It uses 13 questions, each relating to one of the 13 indicators of organisational resilience.

    Find out more

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    Benchmark Resilience Tool

    We offer a range of services using the BRT organisation-wide survey to measure resilience and begin the process of growing and embedding resilience into your day-to-day business.

    Find out more

Through in-depth case studies of organisations of different sizes, sectors, and ownership structures we have discovered that organisational resilience consists of 3 interdependent attributes and 13 indicators of resilience. These build business as usual (BAU) effectiveness as well as robust and agile response and recovery from crises.

Leadership and culture 

These indicators identify the adaptive capacity of the organisation.

Networks and relationships

These indicators identify the internal and external relationships fostered and developed for the organisation to leverage when needed.

Change ready

These indicators identify the planning undertaken and direction established to enable the organisation to be change ready

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    Strong crisis leadership to provide good management and decision making during times of crisis, as well as continuous evaluation of strategies and work programs against organisational goals.

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    Staff engagement

    The engagement and involvement of staff who understand the link between their own work, the organisation's resilience, and its long term success. Staff are empowered and use their skills to solve problems.

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    Situation awareness

    Staff are encouraged to be vigilant about the organisation, its performance and potential problems. Staff are rewarded for sharing good and bad news about the organisation including early warning signals and these are quickly reported to organisational leaders.

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    Decision making

    Staff have the appropriate authority to make decisions related to their work and authority is clearly delegated to enable a crisis response. Highly skilled staff are involved, or are able to make, decisions where their specific knowledge adds significant value, or where their involvement will aid implementation.

  • Innovation and creativity

    Staff are encouraged and rewarded for using their knowledge in novel ways to solve new and existing problems, and for utilising innovative and creative approaches to developing solutions.

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    Effective partnerships

    An understanding of the relationships and resources the organisation might need to access from other organisations during a crisis, and planning and management to ensure this access.

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    Leveraging knowledge

    Critical information is stored in a number of formats and locations and staff have access to expert opinions when needed. Roles are shared and staff are trained so that someone will always be able to fill key roles.

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    Breaking silos

    Communication and collaboration within and between organisations to enable innovation, shared understanding, and common purpose.

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    Internal resources

    The management and mobilisation of the organisation's resources to ensure its ability to operate during business as usual, as well as being able to provide the extra capacity required during a crisis.

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    Unity of purpose

    An organisation wide awareness of what the organisation's priorities would be following a crisis, clearly defined at the organisation level, as well as an understanding of the organisation's minimum operating requirements.

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    Proactive posture

    A strategic and behavioural readiness to respond to early warning signals of change in the organisation's internal and external environment before they escalate into crisis.

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    Planning strategies

    The development and evaluation of plans and strategies to manage vulnerabilities in relation to the business environment and its stakeholders.

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    Stress testing plans

    The participation of staff in simulations or scenarios designed to practice response arrangements and validate plans.

Resilient to what?

Each organisation has their own 'perfect storm' – a combination of events or circumstances that has the potential to bring that organisation to its knees. For a financial system, the worst nightmare might be sudden loss of customer confidence creating a snowballing 'run on the bank'. For other organisations it may be the failure of a key supplier, contamination on the production line, a disgruntled employee wreaking havoc, etc.

Organisations sit within a larger system

While our research focuses on the resilience of organisations (businesses, government agencies, institutions etc), an organisation sits within an ecological like system and resilience is required at all levels of this system.

No organisation is an island.

The resilience of an organisation is directly related to the resilience of the other organisations on which it depends (customers, suppliers, regulators, and even competitors). An organisation is also dependent on and also contributes to the individual resilience of its staff and the resilience of the communities that they live in. Similarly, an organisation's resilience is directly related to the resilience of its sector, and the sector's resilience is intertwined with the resilience of the nation.

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