Adapting is key to survival - along with resilience
13 Nov 2014
By: Diane Brady
As president of the Rockefeller Foundation, Judith Rodin is less attuned to making money than to giving it away.
And yet her new book, The Resilience Dividend, is essentially a primer on how to identify and build sustainable value in any venture. That's because resilience, the ability to adapt to change and bounce back from crisis, is about more than surviving the next violent storm.
It's about creating a culture that makes you ready to withstand whatever comes your way.
In an era of ever-constant disruption from climate change, technology shifts, cyber attacks, and more, that makes resilience a key measure of who will win and lose in the global economy, she insists.
Moreover, she says that preparing for the unpredictable can yield dividends, from new products to lower costs. That argument is typically used to make the case for stronger flood defences and smarter energy grids. But Rodin sees resilience as more than a response to climate change.
It's the foundation of a 21st century career - the reason companies such as Coca-Cola, Ikea and Toyota have profited from investments in reduced water use, back-up power sources, and flexible production systems.
Rodin says there are five traits of leaders and companies that are resilient in today's world:
Awareness: Do the leaders know their strengths and weaknesses? Are they attuned to shifts in the landscape and ever vigilant about risks?
Diversity: The greater the diversity, the more likely the team can detect different types of threats.
Integration: Resilient companies foster a culture where people communicate, coordinate, and collaborate to get things done.
Self-regulation: The entity operates in such a way that a disruption or failure in one area doesn't cause the whole structure to collapse.
Rodin cites Apple as a classic example, noting that its iPod and iPhone initiatives were separate from the computer business, which allowed them to grow without destabilising the core.
A less resilient model might be, say, American International Group, which let a small financial-products team in London make risky bets that brought down a global insurance powerhouse.
Adaptability: The ability to adjust to change is the quality most often associated with resilience. Adaptive behaviour can mean shifting supply chains or closing down businesses that no longer make sense.
With The Resilience Dividend, Rodin may help investors judge who's likely to remain standing when things go wrong-and give business leaders a guide to make sure they're part of that group.