Introduction – Resilient Thinking: Protecting Organisations in the 21st Century


As we make the journey through the world of resilience together, we are going to look at organisations as vulnerable entities. And we’re going to try to direct our focus firmly away from ‘stovepipe’ or ‘silo’ thinking. Business continuity, security, health and safety, emergency planning, disaster recovery, and so on, are all different elements of resilience. That’s my view and I’m sticking to it. When an organisation is targeted, or an accident happens which affects it, the impact is not just in one area, at one time, at one level and aimed at one function, and your mindset needs to be as flexible and dynamic as the threats you face. Think in stovepipes and your organisation may well go up in smoke; go beyond frameworks and mental constraints and you may have a chance of coming out the other side in one piece, and, with some luck, you could end up in better shape than when the stuff hit the fan in the first place.

So, if you want to get through to the other side of whatever it is that may befall you or your organisation, it’s time to be a little bit radical. Only a little. Don’t tear up your current plans; they may need a little tweaking, or even just some effort to make them practicable. Don’t throw away your checklists; they might be useful if you test them out. Do throw away rigid mindsets, adherence to the ‘I’m a risk/security/safety/continuity/disaster recovery expert and my method is best’ waffle and the belief that all resilience functions are different and separate. I’ll quite happily argue with any number of consultants, advisers and niche managers about this, but in the end (and hopefully by the time we get to the end of the book you’ll agree), I’m right and only by thinking will you achieve your resilience aim and avoid any number of terrible scenario developments.

One last point before we start the book in a little more detail. Please don’t listen slavishly to the stuck-in-the-mud so-called ‘experts’ who’ve been in their business for years and have ground out a reputation through endless and repeated contributions to continuity, risk, security and safety journals. There are a lot of people who are qualified only through experience, rather than through capability, and the fact that they have been overseeing and writing plans for years means nothing if their plans are junk. Also, please don’t think for a moment that I expect you to agree with everything that is written here – these are my thoughts, views, concerns and suggestions and they are here to stimulate your own thoughts, ideas and suggestions. As that well-known liberal thinker George S. Patton once gently whispered, ‘If everyone is thinking alike, then somebody isn’t thinking.’

You’ll find that I repeat throughout the book that it is important to be a thinker. Why? Because for me thinking is everything that makes professionals effective and the lack of it is what makes organisations, large and small, ineffective.

So, there are some thoughts to start with. I hope that you can see from this Preface that my approach to resilience is that not much is ruled out, and everything is ruled in. Unpredicted, natural and malicious events have a habit of ignoring the best-laid plans, deflating egos and having impacts way beyond their often humble beginnings. If nothing else, I hope that Resilient Thinking makes you think carefully about the things that you can do to maintain organisational viability. If it does, I can retire happy – and so will you.