Smaller Organizations’ Resilience in Focus

Even before the full ramifications of the coronavirus were evident, BSI research shows that confidence in the resilience of smaller organizations had faltered for the first time since 2017. Harold Pradal, Group Commercial Director at BSI, explains.

Towards the end of 2019, BSI published its annual Organizational Resilience Index, the third such survey of business leaders worldwide. The study could hardly have been more timely, coming just a few weeks ahead of the COVID-19 pandemic, as it highlights key challenges that influence the long-term ability of an organization to survive, thrive and prosper.

Overall findings

The Organizational Resilience Index provides a powerful, data-driven insight into what 805 global company bosses see as their own business’s strengths and weaknesses.

The Index finds that, across all sectors, Innovation, Horizon Scanning and Adaptive Capacity have the greatest impact on Organizational Resilience, but that relative performance in these areas has declined over the last 12 months.

Overall, it also reveals that business leaders are struggling to adapt to the introduction of new technology amid political and economic uncertainty. Those surveyed in the report identify technology as both the greatest opportunity and the most severe threat to their success.

The challenge ahead for growing organizations

Now, of course, the further impact of COVID-19 threatens to deliver some sobering outcomes for many smaller organizations.

Every part of the small business sector has been affected by the coronavirus pandemic, with damaging impacts felt right across the globe. Many firms face a cashflow crisis, having geared up for growth and therefore higher levels of activity but then suddenly losing business and being forced to apply the brakes.

Disrupted supply chains, site closures, halted production lines and a reduced cashflow are very different business challenges for the leaders of smaller organizations, highlighting the constant need for them to question how resilient they really are.

Alongside helping them to manage and mitigate varied risks, organizational resilience can strengthen their ability to grasp opportunities – because even in a crisis, opportunities can still arise, for example, for some healthcare, technology and food organizations during the coronavirus pandemic.

Looking beyond recent events, smaller organizations will continue to play a key role in economies around the world, generating employment, adding value and contributing to innovation. They will benefit enormously from greater insight into just how resilient they are.

BSI’s Organizational Resilience Index

BSI’s Organizational Resilience Index can provide deeper insight by indicating small business’s performance in the key aspects of resilience, and then by highlighting the impact of these aspects on the sector.

The responses of leaders from smaller organizations have enabled BSI to benchmark the resilience of their organization through the impact of – and the perceived performance in – 16 core elements of their business, ranging from Financial Aspects to levels of Community Engagement.

Note that this is a ‘relative’ study. Leaders may well think all 16 core elements have an impact on their business, but they do not see them as having an equal impact and have ranked them accordingly. Similarly, they perceive variations in performance between the 16 elements, again resulting in a ranking.

Using the rankings, we can gauge organizations’ resilience in two ways: first, and most obviously, by seeing in which core elements they perform relatively well; second, and perhaps more significantly, by focusing on how well they perform in the elements that have most impact on their business.

Top five resilience ranking for smaller organizations

Top 5 OR small business

93 of the 807 organizations surveyed identified their area of operations as being a small enterprise

Leadership and Adaptive Capacity are seen as having the most impact in maintaining Organizational Resilience in the small business sector.

The ability of organizations to adapt to change, however, has fallen for the first time due to market turmoil. The Index suggests that an increase in the disruptive effects of technology are the driving force behind the Adaptive Capacity agenda, and this long-term term trend seems certain to continue.

Strong leaders are needed to adapt strategy to changing conditions – staff engagement,
clear direction and business performance are now valued more strongly than innovation
and political acumen as key leadership skills. At times of volatility, resilient leaders of growing organizations recognize the value of investing in a culture that instills a clear strategic
purpose alongside the trust and tactical freedom to take the most effective route.

Where are your strengths and weaknesses?

It falls to small business boards and individual leaders to build organizational resilience at both a strategic and operational level. There are tools to help, from industry-specific standards to broader certifications for disciplines such as business continuity management and information security management, as well for Organizational Resilience itself.

To find out your firm’s relative strengths and weaknesses – and how you compare with the organizations behind the BSI Organizational Resilience Index – complete the BSI Organizational Resilience Benchmark tool, a simple questionnaire located online at

This tool will present your results in a spider diagram. It will allow you to compare how you perceive your performance in the 16 core elements against the overall benchmark results.

If, in light of your results, you want to investigate further through a more comprehensive comparison against others in the survey, please contact us at