Business Continuity or Organizational Resilience? The Growing Debate

You're busy. So a growing business terminology debate may not sound important.

But what if you had a better way to prove the strategic value and achieve buy-in for business continuity practices?

That's the potential impact of newer approaches around “organizational resilience.” And that’s why a discussion about whether the term “organizational resilience” is starting to replace business continuity management (BCM) is actually quite relevant to your day-to-day operations. What’s more, the debate itself provides some invaluable insights about ongoing thinking on business continuity topics, so in this week’s blog we wanted to share some of the key ideas.

Why Does Terminology Matter So Much?
Before trying to answer this question, let’s look at the basic definition of three related terms.

  • Disaster Recovery Plan: a predefined plan for getting back to business after a natural or human-caused disaster or disruptive event
  • Business continuity management: “a management process that identifies risk, threats and vulnerabilities that could impact an entity's continued operations and provides a framework for building organizational resilience and the capability for an effective response. The objective is to make the entity more resilient to potential threats and allow the entity to resume or continue operations under adverse or abnormal conditions.”
  • Organizational resilience: 'Resilience' is defined as an organization’s capacity to anticipate disruptions, adapt to events, and create lasting value. The concept of resilience is rapidly advancing as a practical response to the needs of an organization, enterprise or government to effectively address the combined issues of security, preparedness, risk, and survivability. Resilience is an organization’s capacity to maintain its functions and structure in the face of internal or external change or threat.1

Clearly, these terms are all related on some level. For example, disaster recovery planning is typically considered a component of business continuity management.

According to an article by Lyndon Bird of Continuity Central, however, there are some challenges with getting executive buy-in for business continuity management because it can be hard to prove the value. Bird suggests that this may be the reason some businesses are switching to a wider strategic focus on resilience—which emphasizes business “adaptability (rather than response).” Bird goes on to suggest that, “developing organizational resilience capability and the people skills needed to take control of unexpected events should be our primary goals. Good planning is still essential but not writing more compliance based procedural plans.” Bird’s ideas led to an interesting thread of reader comments at the end of his article that are worth exploring for more context and insights on the debate.

Our Perspective
We didn’t choose to highlight this discussion because we want to weigh in on the definitions or which perspective is right. Rather, we just thought it was a great example of general thinking on business survival.

Potential disruptions to business operations loom everywhere. In our highly interconnected, and fast-paced world, practically every company needs to consider potential disruptions related to local weather, natural disasters or human-caused events. They also need to consider how incidents of many types could impact their suppliers and in turn their own operations.

The ongoing survival of your business could someday depend on your readiness for unexpected events. Waiting to figure things out when something does happen could likely spell the end of a business. So the nuances in terminology are worth being aware of, so you can research and think accordingly about the approach that makes sense for your organization.

More on Resiliency to Come…
Clearly the topics of organizational resilience and business continuity are near and dear to our hearts. Ultimately, any changes that can raise awareness about the value of preparation for disasters are a good thing.

Interstate will continue to keep an eye on developments and thinking in organizational resilience and business continuity, so keep an eye out for additional posts on this topic in the coming months.


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