Financial and Monetary Systems

In a polycrisis, how can businesses build the resilience to thrive?

The motivation for organizations to invest in resilience programmes is fueled by their strategy.

The motivation for organizations to invest in resilience programmes is fueled by their strategy. Image: Unsplash/charles_forerunner

Andrea Willige
Senior Writer, Forum Agenda
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  • The 'polycrisis' of recent years has disrupted businesses and forced a renewed focus on resilience.
  • A new survey from PwC explores how organizations are building resilience programmes in the face of a continuously turbulent risk environment.
  • It finds that companies are increasingly using their resilience programmes as a source of competitive advantage, not just to weather the storm.

If the series of crises the world has faced over the past three years has taught the business world one thing, it’s that resilience is vital. And at this time of continued uncertainty – often termed a 'polycrisis' or 'permacrisis' – being resilient doesn’t just mean being able to ride out the storm. Resilience must extend from merely surviving to thriving, despite – or maybe because of – the turbulent times we live in.

A new survey by PricewaterhouseCoopers of over 1,800 business leaders has now explored how organizations are building resilience, so they can continue to succeed. Almost 9 in 10 respondents stated that resilience was one of their most important strategic organizational priorities. And investments in resilience are no longer just driven by fear or regulatory compliance, they are made to develop competitive advantage.

What drives investments in resilience programmes?
For many organisations, investing in resilience programmes makes good strategic sense. Image: PwC

So how are business leaders going about establishing resilience to keep their businesses agile in this time of polycrisis?

Have you read?

Here are the main takeaways from the research.

Good resilience programmes depend on integration, accountability and solid principles

1. An integrated approach to resilience programmes is vital

Close to two-thirds of businesses have had resilience programmes in place for more than five years. However, these have often been developed in silos across the organization. PwC’s survey finds that businesses are now moving to integrated approaches to resilience which are centrally coordinated and built holistically around the requirements of the organization.

Programmes need to be embedded into every aspect of the business, including corporate culture.

Taking this integrated approach enables organizations to identify and respond better to risks as they emerge, enabling a faster, more effective recovery. What is more, they are better equipped to identify the business opportunities that arise out of disruption – and which will take them beyond just recovering.

Infographic displaying statistics on resilience programmes.
Companies need the right leaders to drive resilience programmes. Image: PwC

2. Accountable leaders and a solid skills base

More than 9 in 10 of the businesses surveyed who have resilience programmes also have a C-level sponsor for them. In a third of companies, this is the CEO, underscoring the strategic importance of the programme.

Despite this central sponsorship, the responsibility often does not rest with a single person. For example, only 1 in 10 firms had appointed a Chief Resilience Officer. Without dedicated accountability, organizations may struggle to fully integrate resilience into their entire business, the report suggests.

Another stumbling block is a lack of professionals with the right skills to support an integrated resilience programme. This can only be achieved by investing in training and development to build those skills within the organization. For 57% of organizations, upskilling future leaders is one of their top priorities.

Figure showing the global risks landscape: an interconnections map.
Businesses will continue to face turbulent times. Image: World Economic Forum

3. A panoramic view of the business, underpinned by tech

As integrated resilience programmes become the standard, businesses will need to determine the core elements of resilience that are most important for their organizations. Critical business services and their interconnections both within the company and across its wider ecosystem need to be mapped before the firm can set its required level of resilience. Those organizations who are best at coming back stronger from a crisis are those with a “panoramic view” of their risk landscape, the report stresses. This allows them to better anticipate risks and act with greater confidence.

For close to 60% of the business leaders surveyed, there is a clear recognition that technology will be the linchpin when it comes to establishing this holistic perspective and ensuring that resilience programmes continuously evolve.


How is the World Economic Forum fostering a sustainable and inclusive digital economy?

Looking at the World Economic Forum’s latest Global Risks Report 2023, economic, geopolitical and environmental volatility are set to continue challenging businesses’ resilience for the next decade. While the cost-of-living crisis and geopolitics will dominate the risk landscape for the next two years, it will shift markedly towards environmental concerns such as mitigating climate change over the next decade.

Fortifying resilience programmes and ensuring that the organization can stay agile will therefore remain fundamental as disruption continues to shape the global economy.

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Financial and Monetary SystemsEconomic GrowthBusiness
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