Rock Around The Resilience Wheel - Continuity of Operations Through Disruptive Change

Curtis Bartell“Tis the season” we like to say: a time of hope, joy, faith, and goodness. As 2020 comes to a close we are still faced with myriad issues pertaining to public health, elections, economic duress and recovery, unemployment, and living under persistent, pendular change.

Resilience has become a popular buzzword to get through these times but is utilized to mean very different things to people looking through very different lenses. Diverse definitions are great but at some point, at some higher and comprehensive perspective, a bow must be put around a common resilience baseline. In layman’s terms, resilience is getting through disruptions and change with some foresight and planning. Resilience matters regardless of the lens you are viewing it through.

Covenant Park has coined several catchphrases over our several decades of resilience, risk, continuity, emergency management, security, and national and international planning and execution. Some of those phrases include:

  • “Resilience and continuity are blind to the catalyst”
  • Resiliency “levels the risk playing field” across organizations
  • “It’s the people, stupid” as pertains to prioritizing employee preparedness
  • We can “make any organization a priority” (regarding organizational resourcing with proper resilience considerations)

Through our particular lens, resilience is not a buzzword but an active, thoughtful, crosscutting management program based on integrated, comprehensive risk management. Another catchphrase of ours pertaining to resilience: “It is complex, but not complicated” given the repeatable methodologies we have established taking the anxiety out of eating the proverbial resilience elephant. As corporations transition towards resilience, we can unequivocally advise: you cannot be resilient using only the same old risk management constructs!

A quick search online for “resilience wheel” you will find such for finances, insurance, personal life, mental health, spiritual health, and many others. All of these are right for their requisite target issues/audiences. However, I want to invite you to take a quick “rock” around our Resilience Wheel. Our target applications apply to comprehensive corporate, organizational, operational, and governmental resilience. Our intended audiences are C-Suite Officers, mission stakeholders, senior level managers, policy makers, legislators, and managers of risk.

Covenant Park’s Resilience Wheel was developed and copyrighted in 2014 fundamentally, to create a picture of all the pieces and parts of a comprehensive resilience program. If asked what the resilience wheel depicted, I would simply say it is a snapshot of the elements and priorities of a comprehensive resilience program and the requisite mitigation resources for minimizing disruptions and managing change.

Covenant Park Integrated Initiatives, Inc "Resilience Wheel"

Our Resilience Wheel has an organization’s missions as its focal point. All missions matter, but not all missions have the same potential for destructive effects if disrupted. Understanding essential functions and the resources to fulfill them, conducting a formal risk assessment to categorize those functions and resources hierarchically to understand what is truly impactful, and finally, confirming those with key stakeholders combine to establish priorities. Then, and only then can any organization focus limited resources towards oftentimes competing mitigative plans and capabilities. Of course, there are hundreds of complex steps and proven, repeatable methodologies to successfully establish a resilience program. That is what Covenant Park has been providing since our inception.

There are popular, well-meaning “resilience” initiatives out there. One is to utilize scenario-driven planning and preparedness…unfortunately that simply cannot qualify mission importance and the continuation of functions. As stated above, resilience and continuity are blind to the catalyst. More on that another time. 

Another popular initiative suggests resilience only applies to critical infrastructures and related mitigation actions are implemented by crisis and emergency managers. No. No. No. Let me further emphasize, No. Two questions:

  1. Are critical infrastructures prioritized per mission critical functions? If not, mitigative actions are shooting at the wrong target;
  2. Does your crisis or emergency manager have anything to do with running your organization and assuring the continuation of missions on any given day?

Unless your emergency manager happens to be the CEO or other C-Suite Officer or Cabinet Official or Executive Official (in the case of governments) with crosscutting authorities and oversight, it ain’t happening. No way no how. I will dedicate another piece solely on this issue. But I digress…

Below is a verbatim qutoe from an article Jeremy Boccabello and I wrote in March of this year. The article describes the components of our Wheel using big kid words: 

“The following fundamental principles of building resilience still apply as companies work towards operating in a world in which the age-old specter of widespread disease will always be a possibility:

  1. Know what drives your value and the specific roles your people play in that.
  2. Know what threatens them, how they are vulnerable, and what it would cost you if you lost them.
  3. Prioritize the risks to your people based on this understanding.
  4. Decide, looking together at this picture, on how to invest in ways to reduce that risk.
  5. Achieve your goal of continuing to drive value in an ever-changing environment.

A new paradigm is emerging in which both the public and private sectors are implementing measures to protect their workforce to keep doing what they do. Each sector faces different challenges depending on the environments to which their teams are exposed. But the path towards a more resilient world will be achieved by integrating a new level of sustaining our people into the way we do business.” 

Resilience matters. Let the Resilience spirit ring! ***

About the Author

Curtis Bartell is the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Covenant Park Integrated Initiatives, Inc., a small consulting firm in Fairfax, Virginia. He is also owner of Covenant Park Preparedness Systems Integration, LLC. Both firms provide some of our nation's thought leadership on and practitioners of organizational continuity and resilience and are leading new markets as an end-to-end preparedness systems integrator. Covenant Park provides comprehensive, integrated preparedness planning and capabilities for clients which includes support to multiple global commercial corporations and national level federal organizations. Mr. Bartell served as a past President of the Mid-Atlantic Disaster Recovery Association (MADRA), a regional network of resilience professionals. Mr. Bartell has served on multiple, interagency national and international level policy and planning organizations during his 20 years in the federal government and over 15 years in the private sector. More info...