An ‘R’ Word Worth Focusing On

It appears that unpredictability is the operative word these days – from weather to politics to economics – the status quo is being challenged. With some of the blatant errors made by the many pundits in the media, a critical eye and ear on what we see and hear is certainly in order. Nothing new here. Throughout all this, it seems that everyone wants to talk about an ‘R’ word, so I will add my voice to the discussion:
My ‘R’ word is Resilience: Resilience is defined as the ability to recover from, or adjust easily to, change. Resilience addresses the fact that there will always be disturbances to the status quo, both positive and negative. As a Prostate Cancer survivor, the concept of resilience has taken on more importance for me. We all experience those surprises in life that challenge us and ‘test our mettle.’ Whether we are talking about disturbances in our health, unexpected weather or other emergencies, or our business, increasing our resilience helps us move through these challenges more effectively and helps us gain more from the experience.

While resilience is perfected through dealing with challenges first-hand, one can learn a lot from the experience of others. Developing resilience requires forethought and consistent effort. From a business perspective, whether you are experiencing rapid growth or you are facing a slowdown, you can use the same strategies to build resilience. Here are some examples:

Always keep an eye on that point on the horizon you have chosen as your destination.

  • Be the drama settler. You can’t ignore rough waters or changes in the wind and currents. You can, however, keep your employees focused on what is important.
  • Assemble a group of trusted advisers that you can talk with and gain perspective from, and meet with them consistently.
  • If you choose to alter your destination, do so reasonably, realistically and rationally from the point-of-view of opportunity versus fear.

Know what the key indicators are that tell you how your business is doing, and stay on top of them.

  • Clear and concise cash-flow reporting that not only tells you what you have, but what is coming, and how accurate your projections were last week.
  • Useful and timely financial statements including P&L with ratios and comparisons that show performance of different departments or business units.
  • Accurate operational reports that show results and trends in sales cycles, duration of projects, timely delivery, quality, customer service and satisfaction.

Leverage your resources, making sure you get the most out of the people, processes and technology that you have.

  • Create and maintain consistent, documented processes, checklists, training aids, etc.
  • Develop methods to share knowledge and information resources as effectively as possible.
  • Make sure your employees are properly and consistently trained.

Strengthen your relationships with your customers, suppliers and employees.

  • Invest in consistent face time.
  • Always communicate with clarity, honesty and openness.
  • Follow through in all that you do.

Reduce your dependencies.

  • Leverage your own knowledge, skills and capabilities so you can focus on leadership and strategy versus tasks and firefighting.
  • Diversify your customer base.
  • Find additional suppliers and outside resources.

Stay vigilant.

  • Keep up on market trends and technology changes.
  • Seek new markets for existing products and services.
  • Watch for new competitors or changes in existing ones.

And don’t forget to develop your own personal resilience by making time to:

  • Stay healthy (in all ways).
  • Enjoy your family and friends.
  • Reflect on life and keep things in perspective.


  1. Susan Janssen says:

    I also think we strengthen our resilience by refraining to engage in two of our otherwise favorite activities: complaining and explaining.
    We weaken our position, personally or professionally everytime we say that things shouldn’t be the way they are (ie: complain) or justify our action or omission when things don’t turn out (explain). When we approach a situation without complaining or explaining, there’s actually room for response-ability.

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