As we create laws and procedures and assign titles and tasks, we lose the point of preparation. We might get lost in preparation and never leave our old world behind. If the point of growth is to prove our resiliency, we might forget the critical focus of life is adaptability. What are we preparing for?

A friend gave me a journal which can supposedly bring a semester’s worth of sustainable happiness. In this log, we are asked: What is a problem you feel proud of solving? Honestly, I got stuck on this question, since the nature of my work asks me to dig into the issues confronting corporate progress (business continuity) and find solutions to the unsolvable.

Do these two words: problem and solution, go hand in hand? It seems like a problem only feels like a problem when it feels unsolvable or when you can’t grasp the direction you should go toward. Once different ideas come to mind about how to mold this stuck issue to our personal understanding of the situation, anxiety tends to decrease, and our powerful self agency increases.

You can be proud you shaped this concept into something you understand, can use, and manipulate. You are compliant to the situation. An issue also becomes a problem when you grasp on to it so much it either increases or decreases your power over the situation. It can bring feelings of free-falling, swimming against the current, or drowning.

Instead, could we not look at problems as things we are not proud of solving but rather as events we can observe within the open palm of our hands. If unforeseen events fit comfortably in our palms, we approach them with a learner’s perspective, a witness, an observational stance. I’m not advocating for letting big problems just snowball down the mountain, but rather, I’m suggesting we observe their place within our feeling of “how can this be right for me?” and molding this new reality.

When we are preparing continuity plans, risk analysis, and SOP, we are preparing for change and transformation. Through time, unpredictable events happen to everyone. Having a resistance to change is a symptom of our dependence on controllable habits built around preparation and structure. In this article, I will demonstrate how we should shift to a corporate culture of adaptability.

Babies are born resilient, but through time as we emphasize certain habits (compliance), we tend to be erasing the innate resilient abilities of humans by bringing attention to methods and systems rather than versatility. Adaptability changes the story toward a forward-thinking future. Stay tuned to be part of the conversation on how our corporation can become humanitarian agents, our habits get in the way, and possibly how spirituality can become a part of corporate setting.

Is Preparation Needed? Preparation For What?

You’re off to a good start.

In business and risk management circles, we emphasize careful preparation based on rate of return, data forecasting, and research. SOPs are built to guide employees and responders through steps which lead to somewhat predictable outcomes. Lots of energy is placed on “what if?” scenarios, environmental predictions, or doomsday resiliency.

I have found, having an emphasis on preparation rather than building adaptable frameworks keeps people docile and in line, instead of building their skills to adapt, be creative thinkers, and ask questions.

To be in the moment, to bring your knowledge and the trust of your employer in your abilities, and your sense of openness to new experiences, can transform your perspective, and the result of your labors. Isn’t that the point of life? To be surprised and to learn within unexplainable situations, we rose to the occasion.

When we plan a vacation, we try to have everything in order. Most of the time, we do not have a contingency plan in place for a rerouted flight. We simply plan based on our top goal: to get away, to spend time with a loved one, to be in the sun, or experience something new.

A friend recently planned a cruise vacation from the U.S. to a Caribbean Island. She had recovered sufficiently from long COVID and needed quiet, warm weather with her husband.

She drove from Canada to the U.S. port to take her away at sea. When she got to the departure, the cruise was rerouted to visit eastern Canada instead because of an adverse weather pattern. Could she have been prepared for this crazy change of plan? When she returned, she explained she adapted to the changes and tapped into her resilient nature.

This friend is a seasoned continuity manager with more than 30 years experience in the corporate world. Not for one minute did she dwell on the broken plan, rather she reminded herself of her goal: To get away, and to find ease after such a long battle with a terrible disease.

She reported being grateful the cruise boat was half empty and she could swim, eat, and enjoy the company of her husband on a luxury boat. Her preparation was useful since it brought her to this new experience. Her adaptability is what saved her vacation, not her resiliency.

Resiliency would have asked her to grasp onto the idea a disaster was happening, the risk of loss was great, a plan had to be followed, and her successes would be determined by her ability to reduce negative consequences.

Instead, she chose the path of adaptability, which enabled her to observe herself gaining from this change in the plan, not her goal.

Let’s not kid ourselves, she would have loved to feel sand under her feet and see palm trees. It’s the same in the corporate world. We also hide the fact the point of our preparation has everything to do with finance and reputation. Corporations that really want to be future-ready are corporations that are ready to engage in the navel gazing business of “why should our communities care that we are the ones providing our goods and services.”

If our plans are simply to save ourselves from financial ruin, then let’s make that clear. If our corporate resiliency is based on saving our image, then it’s time to change our corporate cultures to one which emphasizes true adaptability, DEI principals, and the needs of our people.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Heidi Ahrens

Heidi Ahrens is a self-described concept architect who utilizes her background in education, group facilitation, and spiritual understanding, to bring awareness to the fact that being a humanitarian asked to investigate corporate resiliency is risky business. Ahrens has visited more than 20 countries, ran her own outdoor website, raised two determined daughters and has been described as a teacher, artist, coach, and creative thinker. She would rather be exploring hot humid places, drinking coffee with her husband, or being deployed supporting the American Red cross, rather than struggling through winters, and indulging her different-abled (DEI) mind.

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