Resilient in times of crisis: Adaptive or rather agile?

Resilienz Unternehmen
Companies must be able to react ever faster in the face of crises and rapid, disruptive changes. As with people, resilience plays an increasingly important role in this. But how can they achieve it?

How companies can position themselves for the future

 In a world characterised by crises and rapid changes, the concept of resilience is also gaining more and more importance for companies. But what does resilience mean in this context and how can the concept, which originates in psychology, be transferred to it? If you read up on the subject on the internet, two terms quickly come to mind: Adaptability and innovative learning culture.

Taking external factors into account

From these terms, it is not far to the buzzword agility. For a long time, agile working was seen as the magic bullet for making a company so crisis-proof that it could react adequately to the rapid changes so typical of our times and thus remain fit for the future. In the meantime, this way of working has lost its nimbus of being a universal remedy. What remains, however, is the need to adapt quickly to new circumstances in order to be resilient. But how can this best be achieved? This is where the topic of adaptive organisation comes into play. A one-sided perspective from which an agile way of working is introduced usually does not lead to the desired improvement. Instead, in the sense of systemic thinking, all systems, internal complexity as well as external circumstances such as competitors, market changes, wars must be considered and taken into account.

Resilient through a change of perspective

The decisive factor is therefore a change of perspective to the meta-level, i.e. a view from the outside of the company and its influencing factors. From this changed perspective, other possibilities arise and potential for improvement becomes visible. However, it is a fallacy that this potential can only ever be exploited by introducing an agile way of working. It is important to find the right means for your own organisation.  Because just because a method such as design thinking was the perfect solution approach for a topic, this does not mean that this approach will be the means of choice the next time. If we return to the initial question, it can be said that agile and adaptive are not mutually exclusive; rather, agility is a building block for creating an adaptive organisation.

However, the change from a classic or agile to an adaptive organisation can only succeed if it takes into account not only the external but also the human factors such as corporate culture, communication and the employees.

Balance between structure and flexibility

It is important to develop a balance between structures and flexibility. This is the only way to create a protected framework in which new creative spaces can open up and solutions can be found. In this way, a company can change sustainably and, in the spirit of resilience, protect itself against external influences. This process is never complete. Only when an organisation continues to develop is it protected in the long term against the disruptive influences of the outside world.

The conclusion to be drawn from the question of agile or adaptive is therefore that agility is usually part of an adaptive organisation, but its methods alone are not always sufficient; companies must always keep the big picture in mind when making adjustments and changes.