Keeping up with an evolving strategic risk landscape

Keeping up with an evolving strategic risk landscape 

By Erica Seville

The insurance sector, like many others, is at an interesting juncture, as the nature of the strategic risks facing the sector evolves and anticipated time-frames for change shorten.  At first glance, it is a sector populated by well capitalised, established and large incumbents.  It is a sector selling products that consumers need - and are likely to need more of in the future.  And yet, for all those positives, one also gets the sense that this is also a sector ripe for potential disruption.

Last week,  Resilient Organisations Executive Director, Erica Seville, presented at the AON Hazards Conference.  The theme for this year’s conference is apt - (R)evolution of Risk.  As our climate, society and technology changes at an ever-increasing rate, insurers face particular challenges to understand and price risk effectively.  This, coupled with growing expectations from customers requires that insurers shift gears for how they think about and manage risks.

None of us has a crystal ball.  Odds are, the changes that occur will not be the ones we are expecting.  We know that traditional ways of managing risks aren’t very effective at dealing with left-field events (the unknown unknowns).  To deal with these sorts of risks, we need to focus more on shoring up the key attributes that grow resilience in an organisation: building a solid foundation of good leadership and culture throughout our organisations; focusing on buildings networks and relationships that provide support and buffering during times of turbulence; and fostering an organisational attitude and posture that is proactive and positive towards change.  There is no rocket science about these three fundamentals – they are talked about in just about every management textbook.  But all too often good practice isn’t common practice.

The innovation, creativity, and adaptability that will be needed to keep up with our evolving strategic risk landscape needs to be built now. This is a timely reminder for us all to think about how our own organisations measure up on these fundamental aspects of resilience.

Mental Health Awareness Week coaching special

Resilience coaching special offer

We know that being the business continuity or resilience champion in an organisation can be both personally and professionally challenging. In acknowledgement of Mental Health Awareness Week, we are offering a special on our one-on-one organisational resilience professional development coaching. Connecting with others and sharing problems (and successes) can be a key part of managing your own wellbeing.

Our coaching and mentoring programme is an opportunity to build your (or your team’s) resilience understanding and capability and offers a safe space to troubleshoot and strategise on how to achieve change in your organisation.

EarthEx 2019

Earth Ex 2019: Testing resilience planning

Want to test your resilience planning? Have a go at Earth Ex 2019.

This web-based exercise takes you through a Black Sky hazard scenario, testing your readiness and response plans. We recently did it and even though resilience is our core business, we still found it useful to test our planning and thinking. Earth Ex is free and can be done at an organisation, team, or individual level. It is open until 31 October 2019.

For us, the exercise highlighted the need for personal preparedness as a tool for strengthening organisational resilience. For the scenarios in this exercise, having home emergency supplies of water, food, and a contact plan for our families were critical to enable us to support ourselves, others, and our business.

The Earth Ex 2019 scenarios are severe but realistic and well presented. They are applicable regardless of your location. The exercise highlights the linkages between lifeline services and the cascading consequences when key services, such as electricity, are interrupted.

Aside from the obvious resilience preparedness benefits we also found it was a good team event. An opportunity for sharing ideas, reviewing our plans and refreshing some of the office emergency food supply by using it as snack food during the exercise.

Earth Ex 2019 is hosted by the Electric Infrastructure Security Council and sponsored by the Resilience Shift. A Black Sky Hazard is a catastrophic event that severely disrupts the normal functioning of our critical infrastructures in multiple regions for long durations.

Register your organisation or team for the Earth Ex 2019 exercise

The link between diversity and wellbeing: a no-brainer for NZ organisations

The link between diversity and wellbeing: a no-brainer for NZ organisations

By Ellie Kay

As the ResOrgs diversity and wellbeing champ, I have often written on, well, diversity and wellbeing. When it was suggested that I think about writing a blog, though, I wasn’t really sure where to start. Sure, my colleagues have become accustomed to my regular, tome-length diversity and wellbeing emails, but these had all previously come at a time where I was feeling particularly introspective or considering the way of the world we live in. But when faced with a blog, it was suddenly an “Oh” moment. What to talk about? What to consider? The potential for this piece of work to go further than my regular rambling to my colleagues suddenly felt a little intimidating, and there was a little pressure (self-inflicted, of course) to get it “right”. (I won’t even go down that particular rabbit hole, what it even means to be “right” can wait for another day).

My first question was one of focus. Diversity or wellbeing? However, it turns out that sometimes you really can have your cake and eat it too. A recent article on Stuff caught my eye during this conundrum of mine, and linking the use of te reo Māori at work to increased job satisfaction. Better job satisfaction, as we all probably know, has been linked to increased wellbeing. I mean, it just makes logical sense that people who wake up to go to a job they find fulfilling have better wellbeing than those who hate their jobs, right? As is the case with many Stuff articles, I was left wanting more and, interested in the link between diversity and wellness, I tracked down the original report to see what the deal was.

Here’s the low-down on the research. In New Zealand, supportive firm culture (e.g., work flexibility) has been positively linked to job satisfaction. Previous research has noted that this is due to employees receiving something that is considered both rare and valuable. To cut a long, thoroughly interesting report short, the use of tikanga Māori, that is, Māori practices and customs (such as powhiri), and te reo Māori is significantly linked to job satisfaction in organisations. These organisations also experience better employee engagement. Furthermore, the organisational resourcing of tikanga Māori, not surprisingly, led to increased cultural wellbeing.

But wait, there’s more. Organisations that use te reo Māori and tikanga Māori also report having better relationships with their customers. On top of the internal benefits of organisational use of tikanga Māori and te reo Māori, external relationships also prosper. However, it seems that this is not well recognised by organisations. Although around 70% of organisations report some use of te reo Māori internally, only 45% of organisations report using the language some of the time, a lot of the time, or all of the time. That number drops when looking at the external use of the language and drops again when considering the use of tikanga Māori. When looking at the demographics of those organisations who used te reo Māori and tikanga Māori, a few things stood out. Small, private sector organisations have the lowest engagement with tikanga Māori and te reo Māori and, not surprisingly, Māori organisations used Māori language and tikanga Māori the most. Those organisations who viewed English as the standard or only language of New Zealand were also significantly less likely to use Māori language or tikanga Māori. Conversely, organisations that saw te reo Māori as an integral part of culture in New Zealand were significantly more likely to use the language.

Let’s just focus on te reo Māori here for a second. We are on the cusp of Māori language week here in good ol’ NZ. Māori language week in 2019 runs from the 9th – 15 September (Mahuru) and is a good chance for us to think a bit more about the use of one of New Zealand’s official languages. But why is the use of Māori language so important? Well, because it links to our identity. Everyone loves the haka and it’s a proud moment to see the boys in black complete this fearsome challenge to their opponents before every game. It’s in our national anthem. Heck, Māori design is even used by our national airline. We’re well known for it. And if we use tikanga Māori and design like this, then we need to respect and acknowledge the culture that gave us these gifts, these taonga. If we recognise Māori language and culture as part of our identity, and if “doing the right thing” is important to us, then there is a responsibility to be agents of change in normalising te reo Māori in our country. We have a role to play.

If you’re new to this other language rodeo and don’t know where to start, here’s some tips:

  1. Promote te reo Māori as “good for business”, and champion the language with your employees. Employees that use Māori language, as we’ve just heard, report higher satisfaction and greater wellbeing.
  2. Campaigns to increase language use within organisations should highlight that you don’t need to be Māori to speak Māori. Māori speakers have a love of Aotearoa and of the language. A perception change is needed to remind that te reo Māori is a language for all New Zealanders.
  3. Start small. Providing specific, small, practical ways that organisations can use Māori in the workplace is a great way to start. This could be something as simple as a new word per week, with a challenge to work it into the conversation between colleagues.
  4. Reduce feelings of embarrassment (or whakamā). Trying is as good as perfection when it comes to revitalising the language. Think about conservation – every bit contributes, and it doesn’t have to be perfect.
  5. If you’re not sure of a meaning, or you don’t know if you’ve got the emphasis right on a word, check out Māori Dictionary. Seriously, it’s a lifesaver.

If you’d like to learn more about Māori language, head over to Mā Test yourself to see how many of these words you already know. You might surprise yourself.

Board’s Role in Crisis

Calling all board members and CEOs - A Board's Role in Crisis

  • Have you been on a Board of Directors or a CEO of an organisation that experienced a crisis within the last 10 years?
  • Do you feel you learned from that experience?
  • Would you like to share your experience to help others facing crises in the future?
We’d like to talk to you!

We are particularly interested in talking with Chairs, Directors and CEOs of organisations that provide of essential community services such as food, water, health, energy, communications, transportation, and banking.


1-2 hours of your time to meet with you at your convenience to gain your insights and professional experience on the role of the Board in times of crisis.


Please contact Erica Seville, [email protected] or +64 (0)21 456 706.


The aim of this project is to create a guide for Boards of Directors to use in preparation for and in times of crisis. It will summarise the experiences of boards who have navigated through crisis, considering what worked, what didn’t, and what they would have done differently. All lessons will be confidential, and not attributed to any one person or organisation.

The focus will be on critical infrastructure organisations, and aims to extract lessons learned on the role, behaviours, and leadership of boards. We are looking to interview individuals to capture different perspectives on the board’s role in crisis, including Chairs of the Board, Directors on the Board, and CEOs of critical infrastructure organisations who have faced significant crisis within the last 10 years. This may include experience of natural disaster, reputational risk, health and safety incidents, cyber-attack, public safety concerns, or any other crisis.

This research is a collaboration between Resilient Organisations, QuakeCoRE, and the New Zealand Institute of Directors.

Resilient Organisations’ researchers are leading this project. Resilient Organisations Ltd is a research and consulting group passionate about building future fit organisations ready to adapt and thrive in any environment. The Resilient Organisations team are world leading resilience experts, who have worked in resilience enhancement for 14 years. They are the experts in translating cutting-edge research into practical real world advice for organisations, communities, and businesses of all sizes.  To find out more visit

This project is funded by QuakeCoRE, which is a Tertiary Education Commission funded Centre of Research Excellence focused on transforming the earthquake resilience of communities and societies.  QuakeCoRE does this through innovative world‐class research, human capability development, and deep national and international collaborations. QuakeCoRE’s vision is of an earthquake-resilient Aotearoa New Zealand where thriving communities have the capacity to recover rapidly after major earthquakes through mitigation and pre-disaster preparation informed by internationally-leading research excellence.   To find out more visit

The Institute of Directors is partnering on this research to share the findings with the broader governance community. The Institute of Directors in New Zealand connects, equips and inspires its more than 9,000+ members, to add value across New Zealand business and society. Through thought leadership, our extensive network, professional governance courses, events, and resources the Institute of Directors mission is to inspire and equip people in governance to add value across New Zealand business and society.  To find out more visit


EARTH EX - Global resilience exercise

The virtual multi-sector global resilience exercise EARTH EX opens on 21 August 2019 and remains open to participate in any time through to the end of October. The ResOrgs team have registered and will be taking part in this exercise. and we encourage organisations to register and take part.

What is it?

As a way to build resilience for large and small organisations, EARTH EX is a unique opportunity to test your response to a major power outage and better anticipate and prepare for such an event.

Our infrastructure is interconnected and interdependent. A major incident in one location can cascade rapidly and have an impact on critical infrastructure systems elsewhere, affecting their ability to function, to connect communities, provide essential services, or to protect society.

How well prepared are we as a society for such an event? How prepared is your organisation? How prepared are you?

As a multi-sector international exercise, EarthEX offers a scenario that contributes to a growing understanding about the interdependencies of your organisation and the wider impact on all of your stakeholders including your employees.

EARTH EX uses video simulations to set the scene for the exercise based around a real-world threat-based scenario.

Register at

Bumpy roads to reconstruction

Bumpy roads to reconstruction

In the latest issue of BRANZ's Build Magazine, a recent QuakeCoRE project involving researchers from Resilient Organisations, the University of Auckland and Market Economics, address the question of what differentiates the earthquake rebuilding timeline of Christchurch from other places like Kobe following the 1995 Great Hanshin earthquake and Los Angeles following the 1994 Northridge earthquake?

To find the answer, and to assist in improving the ability to resource future construction, the project team looked at the progress of restoring and rebuilding homes, infrastructure facilities and commercial buildings in Christchurch following the 2010/11 Canterbury earthquakes.

The longitudinal study of earthquake recovery in Christchurch suggested there is a delay in construction demand landing for real construction, which caused incorrect demand perception. Therefore, three essential components should be considered by the government agency and construction industry bodies taking the lead on disaster recovery for future disaster reconstruction planning:

  • A real-time, transparent, cross-sector construction information and intelligence reporting system – not using lagging metrics – that can be publicly accessible, especially for construction businesses.
  • Reduced lead time from intentions of spending to real construction.
  • Increased visibility of construction pipelines.

Read the full article

Queenstown Tourism Operators getting prepared

Queenstown Tourism Operators getting prepared

By Erica Seville (Resilient Organisations) and Trevor Andrews (Emergency Management Otago)
May 2019

This month, Erica Seville, spent an afternoon with the Queenstown Lakes district TORQUE group.  TORQUE (which stands for Tourism Operator Responders of Queenstown), brings together the largest tourism operators in the district, along with the Department of Conservation, the Queenstown Lakes District Council, and Emergency Management Otago, to collectively address the challenge of looking after up to 75,000 visitors in a major disaster.  These visitors underpin the district’s economic prosperity, but also create one of Otago’s biggest challenges in planning for a major event response.  In peak summer and winter periods, there can be up to two visitors for every local in area!

TORQUE members have committed to planning to look after their clients as well as their staff in a major event.  This includes making provision to shelter clients “in place” if necessary, and providing logistical support for moving and possibly evacuating affected people and communities.  This is underpinned by ensuring that their own staff are well prepared and trained for emergencies, and that their business continuity plans are thorough and well exercised.

In her session with the TORQUE group, Erica focused on practical strategies to use within their own organisations, and collectively as a sector, to build engagement and momentum for resilience building activities, and prioritise areas of focus.  “A well-prepared Tourism Operators sector can be a fantastic resource for the region.  They have a fleet of helicopters, 4WD vehicles, boats, and radio communications, as well as trained staff used to dealing with people and operating in extreme and often remote conditions.  There are also opportunities to leverage the skills and capabilities of visitors in the area at the time of an event.   Thinking through, in advance, how to appropriately tap into this visitor resource shifts our frame of reference from seeing visitors as a logistical challenge, to being a potential opportunity for supporting the Queenstown Lakes region during response and recovery.”

Resilience Shift Potable Water Primer published

Resilience primer for the water sector

We recently completed this primer, and the published version is now available to download from The Resilience Shift.

This primer is a brief document introducing the principles of resilience for the potable water industry. It is intended to assist those in the water industry to consider shifting practice to build the resilience of the water network.

Water is an integral part of our lives, both in its requirement for life, but also in its ability to create healthy communities. Building a resilient water network helps to enable current and future generations not only to recover from shocks and stressors but also to thrive. There is no one solution to the barriers that reduce resilience improvement efforts. This primer presents 17 recommendations to give resilience adoption a boost. These suggestions were inspired by 19 interviews with water sector operators and stakeholders and consideration of policy frameworks, advocacy bodies and academic reports.

Download the Potable Water Primer