“A good half of the art of living is resilience.”
Alain de Botton
A good half of the art of business is resilience, as well.
Here’s how the need for resilience may show up:
- All information you’re monitoring looks good. Things seem to be going well, overall.
- Oh, maybe there’s one small thing that’s a little off-course, but it shouldn’t be a big deal, not after you make a few tweaks and tucks. It’s NOTHING to worry about.
- Time passes. Things change, even if almost imperceptibly.
- Suddenly, and seemingly without warning, you’re facing potential disaster.
That little problem you weren’t worried about?
It was a big one.
The situation blew up. Now you’re sunk.
Or are you?
This is when resilience – if you have it – can be a business-saving skill.
For those who struggle with resilience, what causes the problem?
And it’s human nature.
No one wants to think about what might go wrong.
But putting your head in the sand is never a winning strategy, in any business, profession, or situation.
And denial only increases stress (and the mess, if it happens) instead of getting rid of it.
If you’d like to grow or improve your resilience, start with the following five ideas.
They may even save your business during challenging times:
1. Stretch your thinking.
You’ll be more prepared to respond to any unexpected situation if you consider what might go wrong, long before something happens.
Just by considering a wide range of possibilities, and mentally rehearsing what you, and the people you work with, would do to address these situations improves your ability to respond effectively.
You can “try on the future” with scenario analysis. In the simplest possible version, here’s how you do it:
- Consider the best possible case, the worst possible case, and the most likely situation to arise
- Stretch your thinking even further in each direction. Take into account an EVEN worse possible outcome, and an EVEN better possible outcome.
Now, having considered a wider range of possibilities, the “most likely” scenario is now likely to be different…and probably more accurate…than it was when you imagined the future as a simple extension of the past, or present.
2. Pay attention to critical details.
Track key indicators of possible change to improve your ability to predict what might happen, before it happens.
Look at it this way: you’re improving the crystal ball you use to predict what will happen in the future by virtue of being more aware of signs of changing circumstances.
To use examples in nature, animals, who are tuned in to very subtle signs in their environment are far better than humans are at predicting and being ready for some natural disasters when they occur.
Dogs and cats, for example, can often tell when an earthquake is going to happen, and they often start to act different.
This New York Times article addresses birds’ ability to anticipate and prepare for dangerous storms: Birds Have Natural Ability to Survive Storms.
Similarly, you can discover and track early warning signs of possible change in business.
To do so, start by identifying the highest risk aspects of your business.
Then brainstorm details or related trends that you could track to give you early warning about the very changes you worry about now.
Having advance notice about what may be happening as change occurs in its sometimes subtle early stages may enable you to take actions to prevent or minimize the impact of changes ahead, if very challenging things are starting to occur, or make the most of good situations, if they are starting to take shape.
3. Strengthen the processes and systems that must work.
Improve the core processes and systems of your business, if needed.
Make sure they are strong enough that your business could rely on them, if needed, to ride out an emergency for a while, should it occur (we who live in California think of being earthquake-ready, for example).
And if that emergency never occurs…and hopefully it won’t…you will benefit from faster, easier, more cost-effective processes for getting work done.
An immediate benefit is that improvements are almost guaranteed to lower your costs and improve your profits.
4. Create an emergency plan and resources for your business.
This one is easy to wave off, but it could save your business, and it could save lives, too.
Encourage your employees and friends of the business, such as your customers, suppliers, and colleagues, to make themselves emergency-ready, too.
Here are links to pages on the FEMA website that tell you how to create business and also family preparedness plans and then implement them:
Find small ways to practice resilience.
Treat resilience-building like a game, if you can.
Your business…and your life…could depend upon it.
The odds are that your efforts ahead of time will have beneficial effects, sooner and later, that are far beyond what you might expect…even if that rainy day never comes…and also, when an unexpectedly sunny one does.