Since the Brexit referendum in June 2016 boards (across all business sectors) are still struggling to fully understand Brexit and the related impact on their organisation, given uncertainties and limited available information. With the event ever looming the prospect of Brexit ‘fatigue’ may hit sooner than Brexit itself. This begs the question; ‘can boards and organisations be doing more’? In short, the answer is yes.
Brexit is just another business disruptor
Put simply, Brexit is another potential business disruptive event and in essence this is what business resilience is all about. Brexit does represent a systemic, multi-faceted and complex risk but being resilient isn’t just about adapting to the minor 'easy' risks. International Organization for Standardization (ISO) describes resilience as 'a company’s ability to absorb and adapt to unpredictability, while continuing to deliver on the objectives it is there to achieve'. Resilience itself views business disruptors as being neutral (could materialise into an opportunity or a threat). Therefore, resilient organisations look for growth opportunities hiding in the unknown and have strategies to exploit them.
Business Resilience at a glance
Resilience requires your business to evolve continuously, protected from shocks, while at the same time being able to adapt and maintain competitive edge. Resilience can be measured and therefore support the identification of weak points for management intervention. Some of the key characteristics of resilient businesses include:
- Your business has visionary leadership that has invested wisely in resilience;
- Resilience is built into operating models and change management systems;
- Integration is part of your business DNA;
- You see beyond the bounds of your business to the extended enterprise, including third parties; and
- You continuously measure and monitor resilience against key metrics.
Tension can exist between being resilient and being agile and sometimes protection comes at the price of agility. Balancing these two needs can be challenging.
How to tie business resilience into Brexit planning?
Resilience can be seen as a management discipline which can be further supported by frameworks and external Industry Standards such as ISO 22316 / 22301. These frameworks should be designed, implemented and managed in line with your organisations desired resilience state. There is no correct level of resilience, similar to risk it should be reflective of business objectives and wider operating environment.
Through business resilience and business continuity disciplines your business will have already garnered huge amounts of valuable information which should most certainly be used to assess Brexit considerations and issues;
- Similar to planning for business disruption scenarios, create 'Baseline Assumptions' around Brexit and facilitate scenario workshops with key stakeholders to work through potential impact assessment and response strategies to specific worst case scenarios. Planning for the worst means all other outcomes are an advantage. Some example assumptions could include increased business chain complexity, negative regulatory changes, cost base increase and 3rd party (outsourcing) EU passport impacts.
- Using the baselined assumptions start to 'Analyse' your business against them but when doing so ensure to leverage key information already documented in your 'Business Impact Analysis' and 'Business Continuity Plan' such as critical activities, locations, 3rd party dependencies (including outsourcing), staffing requirements and end-to-end business recovery planning.
- Develop a 'Brexit Action Plan' using the collated information and baselined assumptions to reduce ambiguity which will result in a more robust Brexit response strategy. Incorporate the fundamentals of your Business Continuity Planning expertise (Plan, Do, Check Act) and share across the wider organisation to increase awareness and ultimately increase response capabilities.