What's in a name?
Is Resilience BCM Rebranded? There’s a sentiment out there that Resilience is Business Continuity Management (BCM) with a name change. The Business Continuity Institue (BCI) partnered with Castellan and mentioned the issue in the recently published BCI Operational Resilience Report 2022. Regulation plays a role in aligning activity. However, market pressure, interest in safeguarding companies, and concerns about the supply chain are rapidly evolving resilience.
To claim that Resilience is Business Continuity renamed is missing the more significant point. In The Value Of Business Continuity, I discussed how continuity contributes to resilience. I believe resilience is broader and more in-depth than traditionally reactive BCM programs. As Shri Mahesh Kumar Jain, Deputy Governor, Reserve Bank of India, stressed in his speech, resilience enables adaption and reconfiguring when faced with shocks, going further to absorb them. BCM’s focus is to react and recover from interruptions.
Confusion between OpsRes or Org Resilience
Still, others confuse operational resilience and organizational resilience. It is entirely understandable as the two are gaining traction simultaneously. The ISO standard 22316 clearly outlines program guidance for Organizational Resilience. However, Business Continuity Management is heading up Operational Resilience efforts. Alternatively, it comes under Risk Management governance. As recommended in past blogs, I suggest aligning safety, security, risk, and business continuity teams to collaborate on resilience.
Yet, the primary design of Operational Resilience is to align technological capabilities with operational delivery. In small organizations, a business continuity professional is also responsible for Disaster Recovery. So, it makes sense that they lead or participate in Operational Resilience activities. BCM professionals often have a seat at the table for this effort in large companies, too. Many boards and senior leaders focus on Organization Resilience to mitigate risk and ensure robust recovery. As practitioners, we must understand the difference and work to educate our colleagues.
A holistic view of Organizational Resilience
The BCI’s report indicates that 78% of organizations surveyed have an existing operational resilience program. Of course, not having the survey data, I cannot validate the data sources. However, the BCI is known to be an international association. Going with this, it was unclear to the authors if operational resilience met their definition as discussed by participants. As Shakespeare wrote, there’s the rub. Although the ISO standard is published and the UK’s rule on Operational Resilience is in force, as with most implementations, the devil’s in the details. In my experience, regulations are only as good as where and when enforced.
For BCM, like in the United States, there is no singular law governing a program’s implementation. So, I expect the same will apply to Organizational and Operational Resilience. Even where regulations govern expectations, we know companies deliver on programs aligned with their industries and internal authoritative direction and control. The BCI’s paper expresses concern that BCM is not always well positioned to champion the strategic and customer-centric operational resilience approach. Finally, as with all essential programs, Organizational Resilience requires executive sponsorship. However, the designated champion’s role matters less than the individual’s authority to elevate the program.
BCM is in both camps
As I said earlier, BCM is vital to the success of organizational and operational resilience efforts. In some cases, practitioners lead the organization in program development and implementation. However, others are participants. Regardless, continuity programs contribute vital data, know-how, and insight to the success of business resilience. Additionally, with the rise of continuity and resilience in the lexicon of business leaders, there is bound to be uncertainty without transparent internal governance.
COOs and operations managers hone in on work stoppage impacts, compliance, fraud, and tolerances. Board members, conversely, want assurances that business risk is limited and the company is robust enough to withstand a crisis. All of this is to say that we can be guilty of looking at resilience from our vantage point and missing the bigger picture. The end of all of this is the customer and, to a greater extent, our world. Globally, we suffered shocks of a magnitude rarely seen over the last few years. And, it continues. BCM practices are critical to business resilience at all levels.
Life is about change
Waxing poetic for a moment, I like to step back and remind us that BCM was never static. In some ways, it is like The Little Engine That Could. The field is evolving from Disaster Recovery to Continuity, to Business Continuity Management, to integration with Resilience. How to conduct BCM is rarely 100% agreed upon by practice users or regulators. I expect that Resilience as a discipline won’t be either. Any field grows and evolves to remain relevant.
Resilience, in my eyes, is more than BCM. Although enriched by the inputs, Resilience expands practice from beginning to end of a service lifecycle (Operational Resilience) and the ability of a company to thrive after a major crisis (Organizational Resilience). It also includes risk, safety, and security in an actively collaborative way. Done well, it moves past cycles to become standard practice. As the BSI indicates, Resilience includes leadership, people, process, and product pillars.
Expanding and growing with the times
Professionals will debate, and companies will embrace what serves their interests. They will follow regulations where indicated. Regardless, disasters will continue to occur. Achieving business resilience is up to us and our ability to rally our stakeholders. The Business Continuity profession will play a significant role in Resiliences’ success.
Now, it is true that continuity takes a proactive approach in an attempt to reduce operational impacts. However, Resilience goes further in building adaptive capacity across the business. By being out front and collaborating to determine standard minimums, BCM can support the rapid implementation of a resilience framework in our companies. And this will better prepare and sustain us against future catastrophes.