If your organization aims for longevity, resilience is a muscle you want to build.

I know resilience has been a hot topic in recent years, and for good reason – it can make or break an organization. This is true during times of disruption or when things are calm. As we enter the heart of Q1, it’s a great time to consider where your business falls on the resiliency scale and whether there are opportunities to improve.

Last year, SAS interviewed more than 2,400 senior executives across industries and around the globe. By diving into the five resiliency rules, we developed a deeper understanding of what executives are doing right – and what they could do better. Here are five common misconceptions about resiliency to help you benefit from these insights as well as the truths about how it really works.

Myth: Resiliency is expensive
Truth: Resiliency is a strategic investment that can save you money

If you’re under the impression that resiliency is just an expensive form of insurance, you couldn’t be further off. In reality, it can help you streamline operations and save money in the process. In fact, in our survey, 74% of the executives we polled said resilience helped them with sales and marketing, and 74% also said it had positive impacts on customer acquisition and retention.

Take the Jan Yperman Hospital in Belgium. The administration was having difficulty keeping track of inventory, and they had a hunch they might be overordering. They launched a data strategy to analyze the location of hospital assets – from heart monitoring devices to wheelchairs – all in real time. And they quickly saw results. Suddenly, the staff no longer had to search for equipment: They knew exactly where to find it. And they discovered their hunch about inventory was spot on. The hospital was overordering by 10–20%. With information at their fingertips, they’re now saving their staff time (and headaches) and cutting costs by only ordering exactly what they need. And just as important, their new access to insights allows Jan Yperman Hospital to turn on a dime, which is really what resilience is all about.

Myth: Resiliency is only relevant in times of crisis
Truth: Resiliency is a skill set that will serve you through ups and downs

Let me dispel any notion that resiliency only goes into effect during disruptions. The reality is that resilience is not just a safety net to help you get back on your feet. It’s actually a set of skills and capabilities that can help your organization excel in both bad times and good.

We all remember how toilet paper was in short supply early in the pandemic. To help manage the chaos and stabilize their pipeline, Georgia-Pacific looked at the problem with a sense of curiosity (another of our resiliency rules). They ultimately turned to analytics to optimize logistics and boost productivity. Not only did they strengthen their supply chain, but they also improved efficiency by 10% and saved money in the process. And their commitment to data and analytics didn’t end with the pandemic – they’ve continued to use these strategies to stay efficient and competitive ever since.

The same is true for many organizations that are applying resilience as an ongoing strategy for growth. The takeaway here is that resiliency has benefits that go way beyond survival. It will actually help your organization thrive – and even get ahead of the competition.

Myth: Resiliency is only for the big guys
Truth: Resiliency is achievable for every size organization

No matter how big or small your business, resiliency is available to you. Now, it’s true that larger organizations may have an easier time with some of the pillars of resilience (in our survey, innovation success was 48% for larger companies versus 34% for smaller ones). But there are plenty of ways small businesses can embrace the resiliency rules and even outpace the big ones. For instance, we found that smaller businesses were blazing the data and analytics trail: 61% of executives in companies with 101–500 employees use data in decision making, compared to 45% of their counterparts in companies of more than 500. That’s no small difference.

Small companies also find it easier to be fast and agile – another of our resiliency rules. With fewer layers of approvals and red tape, pivoting to a new plan looks very different for an organization of 300 than for one of 3,000. The same is true for growing the collective curiosity of your organization and using it to develop new ways of solving problems. So, just because your business is small, it doesn’t mean it can’t be as resilient as the big guys – or more so.

Myth: Equity and responsibility are too much of a hassle to build into my operations
Truth: Equity and responsibility are critical to long-term resiliency

Equity and responsibility make up another key resiliency rule. And they're far from being just “nice-to-haves.” Infusing equity, responsibility and strong ethics into your organization's operations is nonnegotiable, especially in the era of generative AI and other evolving platforms. Not only do these elements boost inclusivity and protect vulnerable populations, but they ultimately enhance organizational reputation and trust.

And we know that high-resiliency executives are prioritizing these areas. In our survey, 93% focused on responsible data use, 94% on data quality, 91% on trustworthy AI and 85% on upcoming data and AI regulations. As one of our CEO respondents said, "If you want to be resilient ... It needs to be very clear in your mind how equity and resilience are related. You need to open your eyes and think very deeply about where you want to go and how to get there."

Myth: Resiliency is leadership’s concern, not mine
Truth: A well-rounded resiliency strategy includes every employee

Resiliency is definitely not just the CEO’s “problem.” In reality, it’s a set of competencies that all employees can excel in. It can certainly start at the top, with C-suite buy-in and deployment. But it should extend to every staff member. In fact, the higher-resiliency executives we polled understood that growing a resilient organization starts with cultivating the right culture and mindset in the staff. So, encourage your staff to be curious about problems instead of fearing them. Innovate solutions through trial and error. Move quickly and embrace failing fast. Build ethics into solutions. And, of course, lean into data and analytics to help you do all the above. These pillars will help you survive – and thrive – in 2024 and beyond.

Want to learn how to make your organization more resilient? Read the full report and take our resiliency assessment.


About Author

Gavin Day

Executive Vice President of Corporate Programs, Office of the CEO

As an Executive Vice President within the Office of the CEO, Gavin Day helps define and execute SAS' long-term goals aligned to its vision to be the most trusted analytics partner on the planet. He oversees a multifaceted organization that includes the SAS Office of Public Readiness and Corporate Planning; Corporate Programs and Strategies; Alliances and Channels; Consulting; Technology Partnerships; and field and technology enablement.

1 Comment

  1. I enjoyed reading this report and believe that this path can help the successful stability and growth of a business. We have been blessed with tremendous growth in the last three years. We have had to look in the mirror and make some decisions. Luckily we made some good ones but we didn’t know what to call them. Thanks for sharing.

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